It was back in February that I met Frank Whitfield, Mayor of the city of Elyria.

I had a vision of a world where economic wealth was created and then redistributed through personal data accounts, where businesses and people were both benefiting from personal data. Mayor Frank had a vision of the city and citizens – leapfrogging current technology into a future state where connectivity and technology starts with the person, creating a revolution in jobs and the next generation of entrepreneurs. Bringing us together was Youngjin Yoo, Professor in Digital Transformation at Case Western Reserve University. He was the…


As someone who spent the last 8 years redesigning the personal data economy, I thought I’ll explain some of the workings of the walled gardens of Big Tech. Only then can we have a realistic conversation of what should change.

The Wheel of Fortune in the Walled Gardens of Big Tech

Here’s how it works.

1. Personal Data

When you interact with GAFA, you generate data. Whether you search, post, buy or walk around with your phone, you generate data. And Big Tech collects them all. This is the “raw material” of the wheel of fortune.

The clever bit is where the data collected gets transformed and used. Sort of like refining oil. Then…


The Manifesto

Our mission is to give every individual on the planet a personal data account (PDA), a technology that enable individuals to share their personal data through legal contracts, and not merely consent. Our patent pending PDA technology enable the commodification of personal data into an asset that is legally owned by individuals through their own cloud-based personal data server (called a “HAT Microserver”) and shareable by them through direct consumer contract.

We see a time where the value of data is of benefit to everyone, which we call Data Economy 2.0 (DE2.0), where personal data is an asset class, owned…


It’s been a year since I stepped down to being a 20% academic and 80% CEO of Dataswift.

Vocation changes like this is weird enough as it is. At age 57, it’s weirder. In a year of a pandemic, the word weird just doesn’t cut it anymore.

I’m starting with a brag. My H-index, which is what is referred to as “penis size” for academics, is at 32. My REF output, an academic report card, is still at the 3.8 range across 3 outputs. So … my creds are still good to be an academic again once I get to…


What a weekend it was. Planning a virtual hackathon isn’t easy but the team was determined and I must say, they have outdone themselves. Under the leadership of James and Jonathan, HATLAB, supported by Dataswift, organised and managed the event coordinating 822 participants, 147 mentors, 27 original app ideas. Other Dataswift teams were out in force as well with a duty rota across the weekend and a 24hr monitoring of the platform by engineering. All deserved a shout out.

The Hack from Home mentors and partners have also been incredible. Many learnt about Personal Data Accounts, and how they work…


It’s a well worn phrase used by myself when I am asked “What do you guys do” at Dataswift. My reply is often:

“We handle the equivalent of plutonium in data”

I thought it might be really useful to blog about it.

To us, data are like elements on a periodic table. And personal data is plutonium.

Just like you can create plutonium in a reactor when uranium atoms absorb neutrons, personal data is created when bits of our data are combined in a “reactor” or place, e.g. on Spotify, on Facebook, on websites etc.

Nearly all plutonium is man…


Digital identity usage is essential in modern society because it gives real time access to resources, create ease of use of online services and greater efficiency gains for both individuals and firms.

The economic value of digital identity is substantial. The McKinsey report issued in April 2019 highlighted the potential economic value of good digital IDs for individuals and organisations, as well as the potential risks and challenges. The report found that the economic value potential for digital ID in emerging economies is the equivalent of 6 percent of GDP by 2030 and for mature economies, 3 percent of GDP…


I am currently spending time in the US, meeting various people and slowly socialising the HAT and Dataswift into the US environment.

Meanwhile, the teams are sprinting hard every week back in the UK

The commercial team is having great momentum with the Ethical Tech Alliance, matching development houses with partners that want to build on the HAT and free MVPs seem to be on the table which is wonderful news for entrepreneurs that do not have a CTO or a tech team but wish to build data rich and deeply personal applications or websites;

The product and engineering team…


Warning: this is an academic post. If you’re not interested in SD Logic, service ecosystems, service science, institutional theory and academic work in this space, turn away now :)

It’s been an exciting month for those of us designing and implementing systems. The Nobel prize winners in economics validated an approach in economics that is much more pro-active, engineering-like, design-driven and evidence based that sets them apart from past work. In other words, it’s absolutely ok for economists to also shape the future with evidence based mechanisms rather than merely reflect the past. And in shaping that future, a systemic…


The last time this happened I didn’t notice it. It was 1997, I sold my company (yeah, I have a back story) and checked in to do my Masters at the National University of Singapore. I went on to do my PhD. It was awhile before I noticed it and it was years later that I could reflect on what really happened.

I have a name for this phenomenon now. It’s called “Trading Heroes”.

Trading Heroes: first time

It goes like this. You are in a line of work and that usually comes with it a set of people whom you look up to…

Irene Ng

Group CEO, Dataswift Inc. https://dataswift.io; Professor, University of Warwick; Turing Fellow; Website http://ireneng.com

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