Comic content via Tom Fishburne

Monetizing Your Personal Digital Activity (PDA): Necessary or Greedy?

The value of our PDA data to others only concerns us if they are profiting from it. Is this concern solely related to our need to protect our privacy or could it be partly driven by greed? Like selling your used car for $5k and finding out that the buyer resold it for $10k. You might say, “Damn, I could have sold it for more!” Or, you consider that the person you sold your car to most likely dedicated extra time and effort to sell it for more. Greed plays a role in defining our viewpoint in these types of situations.

Similarly, in regards to our Personal Digital Activities, we are selling, or “trading” it every day via our online transactions and interactions. If we buy something online, our activity in relation to the transaction indirectly affects the purchase price. All the data points related to the purchase, including specific personal details of the buyer, are correlated and used to further monetize the transaction. Any incremental increase in profits is potentially passed down to us as lower prices. Essentially, we are profiting too.
This process is not new; it has been happening since the beginning of time. Prior to the internet of things we were benefiting from our physical data, i.e. demographics and related activity. The information collected would be used to improve products and services and adjust prices, which benefited us as consumers.

The questions being posed around the social networks are: (a) what are the ways to control the collection and use of our personal digital activity and, (b) should we further monetize it? Like noted before, we are already profiting/benefitting in various ways from our information being used. Alternatively, there is also increased opportunities for unscrupulous usage of our PDA, both fraud and incessantly being emailed, called, and advertised to, are at the top of the list.

We might consider the potential results of limiting access to our PDA or charging an upfront fee for usage. Without being able to access more Personal Digital Activity the vendor/service provider could be limited in their ability to make improvements to products and services that would benefit us, the consumers. If we start charging usage fees, then vendor profit margins might be affected too much resulting in higher prices.

Another consideration is the process. How do we effectively control PDA usage and pricing? And, who will oversee it? Startups like Datacoup and people.io are helping consumers control and monetize their Personal Digital Activities. Soon to launch Secco Aura is enabling consumers to control and monetize their PDA via other consumers. The processes seem to be streamlined and easily maintained. They do require a certain level of participation that might reduce the overall long-term benefits.

So, is it necessary or greedy? This question will be answered differently as we humans are increasingly digitized and integrated into the IoT.