Personal Space

A little late to the party, I’ve been having a play with Evernote. A lovely concept, quite nicely executed, but the two usual questions arise. Firstly, will I still be using it in two weeks, and secondly, where exactly is my data?

Actually this second issue was pointed out when I asked a colleague if they had used it, and this was her primary concern and the reason it never made it out of the sandbox for her. Generally, I’m fairly uninterested about what data of mine is being stored, and where. But that depends on the data of course, in this case we’re talking a few articles about aikido, bio2rdf and a snapshot out of my office window. When it comes to storing much more pertinent information though, I too would want to get some straight answers about where exactly it is, how it’s stored, encrypted, backed-up and all-round looked after.

I’m a big fan of Dropbox, I have a personal account and the Knob Jockeys have a premium account for storing their music data (and use 90% of the fifty-something gigabytes available). By actually paying for a service, you definitely get the feeling it’s slightly more secure and safe than using a free service, whether or not that’s true is hard to know. Of course with Dropbox, our music data is also backed up by being on multiple machines, two of which are backed up onto Time Machines anyway, and so in worst case scenarios, such as the company going under, it wouldn’t be a huge problem anyway.

Any company or largish storer of data will of course have a dedicated provider, and a contract that covers unfortunate eventualities. I think it’s time that this sort of service was available for the average man and his digital photos of dogs.

Such a service would have to have the cooperation of data management services, not be the data management service. You want cold, hard, reliable storage, nothing more, nothing less. Oh, and an API so all of your other services can use it, of course.

I don’t think it’s rocket science. I’m not talking about a perfect amalgamated, semantically described data model. The digital equivalent of a little out-of-town lockup. It could work like memory cards in consoles used to – allocate a couple of slots to Facebook, one to SlideShare, three to Flickr, and so on. These sites would probably have a cache of your data themselves, but they could use your own storage for the main copy of the data, or at least a backup. It wouldn’t even have to be in a format you could understand yourself, although users might come to prefer the ones that did. Services that currently try and scour the web for your data and consolidate it could just run on your personal cloud.

Imagine using Flickr, Facebook and Evernote knowing that a copy of all the data they hold for you is also stored in your own personal locker? Now wouldn’t that be worth paying for?


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