Civilizing the Personal Data Frontier


A panel at

9:30am, 13 October 2009
John Chipman Gray Room • Pound Hall
Harvard Law School

Who likes being tracked like an animal by big business, big government, and every tech hustler looking to make a buck from both? Not the developers of and . These hot new categories are both driven by a growing sense that primary responsibility for gathering personal data and putting it to use belongs to individuals — not to companies, governments or anybody else.

These tools help individuals become both the for their own data, and the primary authority for what gets done with that data.
Self-tracking is how individuals collect data about themselves, while personal informatics is how individuals organize that data, determine purposes for it, and share it selectively. Together these tools inform individuals’ relationships with themselves, with their social networks, with the organizations to which they belong — and with sellers of all kinds.

Tools for self-tracking and personal informatics are new, already becoming popular, and in need of much thinking about how personal data is gathered, stored and shared. Each panelist is either developing tools in these categories or has experience with new tools and the issues involved. Doc Searls, of the Berkman Center and ProjectVRM, will moderate the panel, and we expect discussion with participants (there will be no “audience” here) to be lively and informative.

The panel kicks off Day Two of VRooM Boston 2009. It’s a free event, and everybody attending the panel is invited to stay, keep the discussions going, and help developers already working on these new tools. It would be nice if you registered here, so we get an idea of how many people will attend; but it’s ot necessary.



  1. Kit

    Is the event going to recorded, and proceeds made publicly available?



  2. Kelvin10

    You see, we have to analyze who we should be talking to in our advertising. ,

  3. James

    Sounds awesome (does that officially make me a nerd?)
    Just a thought – have you considered longevity of data? The LongNow foundation is doing some amazing thought/work in that realm and I think it would behoove the panel to weigh data expiration and long term life.
    As well, thought I’d share this – a thinker in this realm named Brent Leary is having his Sage Summit talk on Nov 11th live webcast. It’s all about the relations between social media and customer service – relevant to your topic I think. People can register here:
    and they’re giving the ebook away for free to those who log on.
    Good luck with the presentation – I’ll be looking for updates here.

  4. Cheryl

    Thanks for sharing that. I registered for Brent’s social CRM talk at We need to learn from these methods – dwindling resources coupled by empowered customers who can talk about our products wherever they choose is something we need to deal with pronto. Is there anyone else talking at sage summit regarding leveraging social media?

  5. Joe

    Do you have any more information about Leary’s free Sage summit talk on the 11th? I’ve registered at – – but don’t know a lot of the details about his talk. I understand from his blog and twitter that he’s big into social CRM and that’s what our company needs a much deeper understanding of.

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