Tag Archives: Hacking Happiness

Data Custodianship and the New Information Economy

By Marc Dresner, IIR

I’ve been thinking’and writing’a lot about privacy lately,
and it’s occurred to me that the term may actually be a misnomer when we’re
talking about the collection and use of data about individuals.
John Havens, author of
Hacking H(app)iness: Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking it CanChange the World,’ summed it up quite well in a presentation at TMRE’s sister
event, The Future of Consumer Intelligence, back in May.

‘This is not about privacy; it’s about
 ‘ John Havens

‘This is not about privacy, which is a preference; it’s
about control,’ said Havens.

Havens’ voice is one in a growing chorus that contends the
Internet economy in its current incarnation’specifically that of data in exchange for services’is fundamentally broken.

Data Slaves Rise Up

Peter Vander Auwera

In July, at the Shopper Insights in Action conference, Peter Vander Auwera, Co-Founder of SWIFT’s Innotribe, who’s written and spoken
extensively on the subject, warned of an impending ‘revolution of the data slaves.’

Vander Auwera’s talk drew on a variety of thought leaders,
all of whom have called for and/or predicted the emanation of a more
egalitarian model. 
For instance:

  • -         
    Jaron Lanier, author of ‘Who Owns the Future?‘ envisions
    a new information economy where people are paid for each instance in which
    information about them is used for commercial purposes.

  • -         
    Internationally renowned security technologist Bruce Shneier even compares the Internet economy to a Feudal system, but Shneier also
    believes a technological way out is inevitable

New Model: The Respect Network

some of this may seem a little fantastical, I wouldn’t dismiss it because to
varying degrees it’s already happening.

Havens in his
presentation advised keeping
an eye on the personal cloud/personal vault industry. (Forrester covers it.)
He also referenced The Respect Network‘billed as ‘the world’s first global,
private cloud network and peer-to-peer data sharing service”as the poster child
for the emerging model:

  • People get paid directly for access to their
  • Provides a centralized, secure private repository
    for whatever data the person wants stored’social media data, photos, credit
    card data, shoe size, etc.
  • Direct peer-to-peer transmission (no
  • Pick and choose which data you want to sell
  • Decide who you want (or don’t want) to sell it
  • Visualization software lets the user look at and
    think about their own data in novel ways

Note: Great WSJ blog on this topic with details about The Respect
Network model. See http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/06/25/network-lets-you-sell-your-data-for-cloud-storage/
the form, you can expect to see more options for consumers to exercise
greater control over the collection and use of their data.
But for now, I think the distinction between privacy and
control is an important one, because the privacy movement shouldn’t necessarily
be construed as blanket opposition to the sharing of consumer data or rejection of the use of that data by

Data ethics will be the new
‘ Jer Thorp

Another speaker from the FoCI conference in May, JerThorp, made a great analogy when he predicted that data ethics will be the new

Thorp is Co-Founder of The Office for Creative Research and former
Data Artist in Residence at The New York Times Co.

He advised companies to start thinking not in terms
of data ownership, but data custodianship
and to position themselves as ‘data ethical,’ which entails:

1.       Informed consent

2.       Transparency around how
the data will be used

3.       The option for people to
have their records terminated (aka ‘the ability to be forgotten’)

If calls for
privacy protection’at least with regard to commercial activities’are really just
an expression of people’s desire to be informed and consulted, then the
solution would seem to be to involve people in the process.

Thorp said he’s had discussions
about consumer data ethics with a lot of companies, and it’s the older,
established corporations that seem most receptive to the concept because ‘they
understand that customer distrust is an untenable proposition.’  


Executives at start-ups, in
contrast, ‘aren’t listening because they have an exit strategy for two years out,’
said Thorp.


In any event, people
may not have to wait for legislators to catch up. The market may sort it out.

Companies that don’t institute ‘data ethical’
policies and practices may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage as
consumers take their business to a rival that has recognized the opportunity.

And like any
market with a large unmet need, expect a variety of new entrants to come to the
rescue with commercially available solutions designed to help people manage and
control their own data.

Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.

Hacking H(app)iness Reveals Quantified (Whole) Self

Consumer Devices and Apps May Unlock Door to Measuring Unconscious Emotions

Marc Dresner, IIR
John Havens is on to something
that marketers and consumer researchers should pay close attention to, because
the implications for insights work are huge.
This trend gets to the very essence of consumer intelligence and it may be the wave of the future…only it’s happening now.
John Havens
The research isn’t
being conducted by consumer researchers; this research is being conducted by
consumers, themselves, for themselves.
Havens’author of ‘Hacking H(app)iness:
Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking
it Can Change the World’ and founder of the H(app)athon Project–is on a
mission to help people objectively take
stock of their lives using data they collect about themselves, and to then adjust
their behaviors, lifestyles and priorities according to what those data tell
‘Hacking H(app)iness involves using the devices and
technologies we interact with every day to track, understand and
optimize every aspect of our lives’
‘Hacking H(app)iness involves using the devices and technologies around
us that we interact with every day to track, understand and
optimize every aspect of our lives,’ Havens said.
‘We don’t always know how we are feeling,’ Havens remarked. 
‘The data we can collect about ourselves on our smartphones, using apps and through other devices can serve as a proxy for our emotions and help us to improve our overall ‘wellbeing’ and quality of life,’ he added.
‘We don’t always know how we are feeling’Data
we can collect about ourselves on smartphones using apps can serve as a proxy
for our emotions.’
It’s based on the science of
positive psychology. After all, Havens is about hacking happiness, not misery’a thoroughly noble pursuit to be sure.
But after conducting an
interview with Havens for the Research Insighter podcast series, yours truly
has honestly been preoccupied with the potential applications and implications
for consumer researchers.
So I hope you’ll  forgive me
if I focus less attention than I should on the potential benefit to mankind and
more on the possibility that consumers may figure out a way to harness Big Data
before those of us in marketing do.
Self Improvement…Gamified?

You’re probably familiar
with the ‘Quantified Self’ movement taking the healthcare and wellness
industries by storm.
It’s generally associated
with using sensor technology in smartphones and wearable devices (think Fitbit)
to track and analyze physiological and other health-related data: heart rate,
blood pressure, exercise, etc.
Now, ‘quantified
selfies’ will tell you that monitoring one’s own blood pressure, pulse and the
like barely scratches the surface of the quantified self movement.
And they’re right.
The Quantified Self movement is in many respects the gamification of self improvement.

In many respects, the Quantified Self movement this is the
gamification of self improvement.
Some devotees’there are clubs
of them sprouting up all over (New York has a ‘chapter’)’monitor their
cognitive functioning, blood oxygen levels’even the quality of the very air in
the room they’re breathing.
And they don’t stop there.
Want to know how well you
sleep at night? You need not necessarily spend a night in a medical sleep
center; you can do it yourself at home in your own bed without a bunch of
clinicians watching you thrash around in your sheets from behind glass.
Not all of these data are
passively collected.
What you ate for lunch, for
example, and its nutritional content needs to be manually entered, but that’ll
get easier fast. (Watch for barcodes next to menu items in restaurants that can
be scanned to your smartphone to track your diet.)
Technology that was only accessible to healthcare professionals, the
military, law enforcement, etc., is now becoming commercially available to everyday consumers.
The point is that much of
this, Havens points out, is possible because technology that was until recently
only accessible to healthcare professionals, the military, law enforcement,
etc., is now becoming commercially available to everyday consumers.
For example, he noted there’s
an app available for download that accurately reads your heart rate by just pointing
your smartphone’s camera at your face.
devices don’t even have to be touching
us to collect this data,’ Havens emphasized.
This type of stuff was
formerly the domain of agents scoping out potential terrorists in airports.
And there are other equally
sophisticated, albeit less sexy data collection technologies that are also
making their way into the hands of everyday folks.
DIY online tracking? The data collection and analytics tools marketers
use are making their way into the hands of average folks.
I’m talking about the data
collection and analytics tools marketers use.
Think do-it-yourself online tracking’the
activity, time spent, sites visited, Google searches, etc.
What could this information
tell us about ourselves?
I recently attended IIR’s
Media Insights and Engagement conference’a sister event to the Future of Consumer Intelligence, which sponsors this blog’and I can tell you media
researchers are quite keen on getting at cross-platform media consumption data
(not just programming content, but social and any other “media,” too’all of it).
Meanwhile, Havens in his
book proposes that you and I’wearing our Joe Consumer hats’might benefit from looking
at how much time we spend playing Candy Crush, streaming YouTube videos,
Facebooking, listening to MP3s, bidding on eBay auctions, etc.
Now where am I going to get
that data?
My smartphone,
my tablet, my desktop computer…Eureka!
So what would I do with this information?
hacking is like looking at a monthly credit card statement…You can see what you truly value based on where you spent your money.
Havens compares it to
looking at one’s monthly credit card statement (something else I happen to have
access to, coincidentally).
a credit card statement, you can see what you truly value because there is a list of
what you put your money toward in the past month,’ he told the Research
you know you really like music if you see that you’ve downloaded a ton of it.
maybe it’s a lot of pornography that you’ve been downloading?
where the positive change comes into play.
you ask someone what really matters to them in life, they’ll tell you things
like family time,’ said Havens.
what if you had objective data about how you live your life? If you could track
the things that you claim’that you believe’are important to you’? he asked.
If you could track the things that you believe are important to you, on paper the actual data might suggest otherwise.
might find that actually, according to the data, we don’t really value those
things’at least that’s how it looks on paper. And we can make a change,’ Havens said.
I’m not going to suggest
that this stuff is going to make online surveys look primitive, like leaching’but
you must admit Havens has a point.
Self-reported behavior isn’t
bullet proof. 
And self-reported feelings? 

So much attention and investment is
being devoted to unlocking the unconscious emotional motivations that drive consumer
behavior in the research community for good reason.

‘My hope is that these tools
will allow people the opportunity to improve their wellbeing by making
decisions based on real data, knowing things about themselves that they might not otherwise be
aware of,’ said Havens.
Now tell me the research
community shouldn’t pay attention to this.

And click these links to check
out John Havens’ book, ‘Hacking H(app)iness,’ and to learn more about the
H(app)athon Project.
Editor’s note: John Havens will deliver a keynote titled, ‘Hacking
Happiness: How to Give Big Data a Direction’ at the Future of Consumer Intelligence conference taking place May
19-21 in San Francisco.

As a reader of this blog you will SAVE 15% on
your registration to attend the Future of Consumer Intelligence when you use
code FOCI14BLOG.  Register here today!

For more information, please visit www.futureofconsumerintel.com

Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.