Icentered – user side centricity
Icentered is looking at my (digital) universe from a truly personal vantage point. The culture, ethics and codes of conduct, stem from a total sense of freedom, self-control and a clear notion of the value of individual distinctiveness.
I am an individual, concrete, unique, and painted in distinct colors – not a faceless user, abstracted and profiled by providers of sorts in their walled gardens. I defy any sort of categorization in interactions with peers, organizations, and service providers.
My web is personal – a web according to me. It reflects me, serves me and accommodates my fluctuating interests and needs. I am the center of my web experience; in the driver’s seat with the reins in my hands.
I have a personal context, a defined authentic personal mark. I am a micro universe of one. My personal context is the only prism through which I can intuitively converse with the world.
It is a flat world indeed, but with a big I in the center.
Whereas to corporate, process and service the world is flat, opportunities are global and digital users are everywhere, to me – the digital me, this flat world has a center point – a gravity anchor – it’s a personal I in the middle – for each and every one of us individually.
In this Icentered world a new pact of engagement terms prevails between interacting entities. Traditional top down predefined offers, dictating the order of the digital day, have yielded to me, adapted to what I need in the context of what I am doing right now. There is no ready made answer that fits people “like” me.
I am myself, across all sites, and refute the “stickiness” to a provider to hold me captive in its golden cage of coziness, because it already has partial information about me. I have control and negate patronage; I assume the responsibility to proactively manage my experience. My privacy is mine to keep, what I share is mine to decide, the level of personalization of my experience is mine to control – hide or expose at will, the responsibility to manage it is in my hands.
My context is one, harmonious and accumulated from all my web interactions. The more I interact, the more it fine-tunes and grows to reflect me and stream-line my interactions.
From an Icentered point of view the meaning of long tail economy is reversed. In a world of endless selection, Contextivity is humanizing, with each and every one of us a unique anchor point that defines our own “personal hits” – answering exactly what each one of us is looking for. It is from my point of view that I make many small transactions with many providers. I am in the center – what I choose is king!
I am free from one-sided privacy and trust management policies of providers. I hold the steering wheel in my hands – I directly manage contracts defined between providers, people and organizations that want to interact with me. The Icentered guiding principle for my interactions with the world is a virtual equivalent of “my home is my fortress” – my own personal, local, virtual precinct where I write the rules and open up the gates as I see fit.
Targeted advertisements – the holy grail of the online media industry – how do they get there? Who really profits? Everyone but me! Being Icentered I can choose what currency to use for goods I purchase. I can decide to pay money to receive a media stream or pay with my attention and select relevant to me advertisements instead.
I the Icentered am an integral part of the food chain, where my direct attention allocation to commercial advertisements is a new currency for me to use when I proactively negotiate terms with suppliers offering context based offerings. Providers of sorts share their revenues with me, as without me there is no reason for them to exist.
While parts of my interaction stream are interacted with different participants, my experience is a harmonious one, integrated all across. I no longer move from one fragmented and isolated interaction inside the walled gardens of one provider, to the next and satisfy their interests in the style and manner they dictate to me. I do not tolerate jumping between walled gardens and be obliged to explicitly fill in the gaps of contextual knowledge they have about me.
I am dynamic, constantly changing and so do my relevance and context. What is right for me now may not be so in the moment to come. With the world at the tip of my finger I no longer have to constantly be the same as you knew me the last time I visited. You can only gain my ad-hoc loyalty, for as many suitable transactions that will accommodate the transient Icentered me.
I have a complete history of my past choices, which I can provide on ad-hoc basis, at my own discretion, to whomever I wish. Being in control and able to sift through whatever is offered, right now, even if it is the first and only time I engage with a particular source as to what I want, now, is really a click away.
They claim that when I relinquish control of my private information it’s a small but necessary price for me to pay in return for a promise of being better served. How genuine is it? Is the rhetoric trustworthy? Is it indeed a small price to pay? Is this equation axiomatic?
There is an alternative.
Once I assume active responsibility for my privacy management and personalization, I become free from reliance on the good intentions and capabilities of providers, to properly treat my personal information. In the Icentered web-of-life, I am in full control of all aspects of my cyber borne interactions. I am in my natural and rightful habitat – in the driver’s seat.
The direction of “profiling” “segmenting” “filtering”… is reversed. Being an individual, I defy any categorization. I don’t really fit in any organized-for-me scheme; I am not a profile, not a user belonging to a segment, not a demographic. I no longer let concrete others decide for me and in my interest what is most suitable for me as a segmented prototype.
MY frame of reference has changed. I am no longer bound by marketing messages telling me what I should have. My trusted circle is my peers – my friends, people whose voices I listen to in the new conversations that arise all around me. I trust their opinions, ratings, reservations and recommendations because they are devoid of personal interest – we share what we like and what we dislike, we praise and condemn in a credible collaborative conversation aimed to collectively enable a more trustworthy and personally suitable web.
I am me – a full micro universe of one. It is my world and I may welcome you to it, based on your relevance to me and my interest to share. In an Icentered world I am concrete and they are abstract.
I define who I am, I pin pointedly specify what I want and I actively assume responsibility for personalizing the interactions.
I should be directly responsible and proactively manage what I share and with whom and what I keep private and from whom.
Trust relationship goes way beyond privacy assurance and automatic computer access policies. Assuring that the private information I give to providers, in exchange for a promise of a more relevant service, is not exposed to unauthorized third parties that may intrude me upon it, or capitalize on it, is beyond my control. I don’t really know what corporations do to accumulate knowledge about me even for their own purposes – do they save records? Track my movements? Follow my activities…..?
Icentered does not spell total avoidance of private information sharing, an extreme privacy maintenance of a black coat that shades me from the world to protect me. I can wear a red coat that makes me visible and conspicuous – but on my own terms.
When I am in the driver’s seat, with the wheel in my hands, holding the keys, I do not depend on the “locks” of organizations that hold my information. With my own master key I define to what extent it suits me to unlock any lock I choose, to the degree of trust I see fit.
No longer do I have to actively sift for relevant friends from a multitude of accumulated social network contacts and actively take care of portability between communities.
In the growing avalanche of social communities and networks – being able to really interact or get connected to people who are relevant to me in the prism of what I am interacting with right now, amplifies the meaningfulness of social connectivity. It empowers a new level of conversation through the binding glue of mutual context sharing. It adds meaning and relevance to my social interactions and builds ad-hoc topical social grids based on relevance to me, right now, in context of what I am doing.
Six degrees of separation are turned into a context based social graph of connectedness both within my social sphere and in its extended perimeters.
Providers cannot assure me they will protect my interests while exploiting my social sphere to enhance their offerings, hiding behind my social circle as a trusted body of reference. It is an unwelcome invasion – my social sphere is mine to share or allow access to in my name and on my behalf.
There is an alternative to the top-down patronizing formalism of providing organizations, an attitude of telling me what is most suitable for me and even how to manage my digital social life. The spirit required for igniting the movement to implement such ideas is free, spontaneous, democratic, and self organized. It can be created by a grassroots operation of a community of people like me with whom I can converse and consult.
To quote Margret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Shifting our mindset from the prevailing site centered paradigm towards an Icentered one requires a fresh look at all aspects of our web interactions’ experience.
The interacting parties
Providers and individual users do not share the same points of views and interests.
Providers strive for quick and safe profits that will ensure their return on the investment they have made for acquiring and retaining a customer. They build methods that analyze individuals as a segmented prototype, an abstracted model on whom they can apply “stickiness” methods to tie them to their site – a captive audience in their walled garden – a secluded silo confined to their corporate.
Individuals want a satisfying web experience, personally relevant and pinpointed. Instantly gratifying, a direct and relevant return on invested attention, interacting directly with whoever and whatever we want.
The inevitable result of site centricity is that our current fragmented and different experiences in moving between separated silos, impairs our natural desire for a harmonious, “I am me throughout”, experience.
Site centered forces a confinement to each site, according to the way it is built. It is counterproductive to the holistic, free, harmonious and intuitive webbing that we strive for.
Icentered empowers a one harmonious me, interacting with all of them, in my context, Webbing my way.
Privacy and Trust
Strong personalization requires intimate knowledge of the interacting individual. Efficiency in interactions requires establishing trust relationship empowering dialog parties to trust each other.
Delegation is the basis of site centered. Providers offer me to delegate managing my privacy and trust relationships to them in return for personalized services, forcing me to opt in or go away.
Proactive self management of privacy and trust, managed at the user side, by and for each user, with the key in her hands to share at will, are at the core of Icentered.
The switch to Icentered empowers my-web-of-life, a holistic in-my-context; personal, intuitive, harmonious and safe experience.
- From fragmented and isolated interactions in walled gardens of separate providers, to a holistic experience harmonized from all my web interactions, resulting in an accumulatively and implicitly fine tuned relevance building.
- From dependency on good will and capabilities of providers for privacy and trust management, to a proactive individual privacy and trust management of each user by her and in her control.
- From adapting to usability schemes that differ within each site to preserving my interaction habits wherever I go and enabling sites to upgrade within my environment.
This shift to an Icentered world view, enabling a true in-my-context solution to the attention economy challenge, moves our focus of attention:
- From providers’ motivation to improve user stickiness, to a consumers’ motivation to freely surf the in-my context web.
- From an abstraction of “user” designed to serve segmentation by a provider, to a concrete micro universe of one – I am me all across!
- From users’ interacting with networked silos, to an individual having peer to peer interactions with friends and providers.
With an Icentered approach, the Internet is turned on its head, so that I am the center of my micro-universe of one, expecting all my web interactions to become contextualized to me, experiencing the web according to me, a manageable attention economy centered on me and my needs.
The web according to me, the Icentered webbing experience, means that:
- I am at the center, at the driver’s seat, with a proactive privacy management and as an active partner to food chains and interactions around me
- My webbing is holistic, harmonious and intuitive.
- The web is presented to each of us in a prismatic way that reflects individual affinities, interests, likes and dislikes.
- It is a true web of life – accessible, free, adapted and safe.
It is based on the following core assumptions:
- I am a micro universe of one, with a distinct personal mark that sets me apart from everyone else, I am painted in my very unique colors.
- There is one harmonious me interacting with all of them.
- My context is not confined to siloed sites and disjoint social communities – I am one holistic and harmonious person all across.