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Data MYning

In January I made a few predictions about digital afterlife trends for 2010. In that post I cited a prediction by TrendWatching.com that “profile myning” would be a crucial trend to watch in 2010. “Profile myning” is an intentional word play on profile mining, the process of extracting patterns and thus business intelligence from social profiles. I’ll quote their report again here:

With personal profiles (which are the nucleus of one’s personal brand) representing an ever-greater emotional and financial value, expect a burgeoning market for services that protect, store, and, in case of emergencies/death, arrange handing over of one’s digital estate to trusted others. – trendwatching.com

Now to recent news. Last week Facebook, in a blog post called “Giving You More Control” attributed to Mark Zuckerberg himself, announced new features. The usual privacy and functional enhancements were included, but of more interest to us here they announced a new feature that allows users to download their Facebook data. Once the feature is completely rolled out, users will be able to request a zipped file of their Facebook contributions. “Your messages, Wall posts, photos, status updates and profile information” will all be included. I don’t see the download link in my account yet, but here’s what Facebook had to say about it, including a video that demonstrates the new feature:

First, we’ve built an easy way to quickly download to your computer everything you’ve ever posted on Facebook and all your correspondences with friends: your messages, Wall posts, photos, status updates and profile information.

If you want a copy of the information you’ve put on Facebook for any reason, you can click a link and easily get a copy of all of it in a single download. To protect your information, this feature is only available after confirming your password and answering appropriate security questions. We’ll begin rolling out this feature to people later today, and you’ll find it under your account settings.

I’ve got to hand it to the folks at TrendWatching.com as this sure sounds like “profile myning” to me. I’m also reminded of Twitter’s new policy for deceased users that was announced earlier this year. It allows for your heirs to obtain an archive of your public tweets. Although I have some issues with that policy, it, like the Facebook download, is a good feature that will help secure your digital content. After all, that content will become your digital legacy.

I think it’s a good move by Facebook. But, remember that Facebook deletes status updates made by deceased users as a part of memorializing a profile. Wouldn’t it be great if Facebook would share this download with your heirs? Wouldn’t it be even better if they asked you if you wanted that to happen and who should have access? That would be an ideal situation. But for now, you can make sure your digital executor has your Facebook password and is poised to request this download as soon as possible. Time is of the essence because anyone with a link to an obituary can request that a profile be memorialized.

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    One Response to Data MYning

    1. Paul Hudspeth December 21, 2010 at 8:55 am #

      Is my personal “brand” of that much value? It’s certainly of no value to advertisers after I’m gone, unless mayhaps to prey on my grieving relatives. Oh wait, I won’t have any of those. So back to what I said, of what value is my “brand” to anyone?

      The other fear I can see some people having is that their secrets get reveled after death. To this I reply loudly, SO? Perhaps your darkest secrets merely paint you post-mordem as a more colorful person than you seemed to be in Life. Besides, after the people who remember you pass, seriously, who cares. The personal “brands” (like the people in Apple’s Think Different ad campaign) who survive in the collective memory of humanity even become more colorful when the post-mordem truth becomes known. Mother Teresa had deep doubts about her faith, Florence Nightingale had syphilis, Gandhi ate two meals a day at McDonalds…

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