How Will You Manage Your Digital Self? - InformationWeek

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Software // Social
12:38 PM
Frank Gillett
Frank Gillett
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How Will You Manage Your Digital Self?

You can't keep track of all the digital content you generate. In the next five years, expect vendors to come to the rescue with digital-self services.

As an individual, you create, exchange, receive and generate a sea of digital information.

Think of your communications, documents, photos, blog posts and music. Add everything you're creating or working on at your job. Then add everything you've done on social networks like Facebook. Mix in account information, from your mobile phone company to your insurance company to online retailers such as Amazon. Layer on crucial personal information like your tax filings and your mortgage and it's overwhelming -- especially when you want to get access to this information from any of your growing collection of work and personal devices.

Managing all of this content is a growing problem for all of us. It's also a problem for CIOs and business technology (BT) organizations that must deal with individuals maintaining their own caches of digital content, including company content, using vendors such as Dropbox that the company hasn't selected and doesn't control. This will get even more complex as more new services spring up to help individuals manage their digital content.

[ Do we need more self-destructing digital content? Read This Email Will Self-Destruct: AT&T Seeks Patent. ]

Basically, the complete collection of digital "stuff" that matters to individuals is their digital self. The digital self is not just your work and personal computer files. It includes all of the complex and varied digital information that you and the organizations you deal with generate. Already, 77% of U.S. online adults report using one or more personal cloud services to store or manage their communications or content, and this doesn't even count their ubiquitous Web-based email accounts. Forrester divides this wide variety of digital information into four categories of content that make up the digital self:

Created. Content that you author such as messages, contacts, photos and presentations.

Mutual. Content and information you purchase from, create with, or share with providers.

Received. Transaction and activity records sent to you by companies you do business with.

Recorded. Records and data about your behavior collected and analyzed by others.

Challenges And Opportunities In Managing The Digital Self

Here's the dynamic. As people use more mobile devices, they worry more about losing data on those devices. And they become frustrated that more of their "stuff" -- their digital self -- is not available when and how they need it on all their work and personal devices.

These factors drive people to put more of that content online in services like Google Drive, Evernote or Microsoft SkyDrive. Workers use these services for work content, whether approved by their companies or not. But once all this content is in cloud services, people have challenges managing it, collaborating around it, backing it up, linking it with data in other services, keeping it private and secure, and generally getting additional value out of it. That's because current personal cloud services are really just storage automation services that have little content awareness and insight into what the individual is trying to accomplish.

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User Rank: Apprentice
12/20/2013 | 3:27:26 AM
personal cloud
An interesting solution is to self host your own server. Not in a tech way, with an SSH command line terminal, but with a high level of abstraction that turns the server into a main stream device, into a personal cloud.

You can check, a personal Cloud you can host, hack and delete that my team and I are developping.

Here is the Demo, I would love to hear your feedbacks,

Cheers !
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2013 | 2:58:30 PM
The Digital Self and the Future of Data Management
Great post, Frank. Your prediction around services for the digital self in which "providers will help individuals search, organize and manage across many digital-self services, not just one" really hit home for us. Our company, Synata, fits into that stage so we're all too familiar with the data management issues consumers are having.

We wrote a short commentary about your report. Check it out:
User Rank: Apprentice
11/14/2013 | 7:51:09 PM
re: How Will You Manage Your Digital Self?
It will be interesting to how data will be managed in the future. Social media, online shopping, email, and anything else online stores data about people. It will be interesting to see how all of that is managed or not managed by individuals.
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/6/2013 | 10:21:36 PM
re: How Will You Manage Your Digital Self?
One answer may be posting generating less digital junk.
D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
11/4/2013 | 10:17:42 PM
re: How Will You Manage Your Digital Self?
Kind of a big leap to say "... consumers moved from managing their content based on the device to a cloud-based model where the device didn't matter..." That should read "...some consumers moved," but the reality is that MOST consumers are still in hybrid mode with lots of stuff on a mix of devices (including thumb drives and backup devices) as well as lots of stuff now in the cloud. I think you're vision for digital self service and curated ecosystems have to include a way to address on-device "stuff" and accept there will continue to be a desire to keep things on device so they can be shared offline. This could be as simple as cloud-based services with offline sync.

Bottom line: something that address these challenges only in the cloud will always be an incomplete option for the real consumer audience.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/4/2013 | 5:58:07 PM
re: How Will You Manage Your Digital Self?
Small business owners, we have contact, generate a lot of information in social networks and often fail to control all the consequence of it. Gaeta, Sergio ERP Software Consultant in
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