Way back in 1995, when our family was still new to the Web, my wife asked a question that is one of the big reasons I started ProjectVRM: Why can’t I take my own shopping cart from one site to another?
The bad but true answer is that every site wants you to use their shopping cart. The good but not-yet-true answer is that nobody has invented it yet. By that I mean: not a truly personal one, based on open standards that make it possible for lots of developers to compete at making the best personal shopping cart for you. Same goes for pretty much everything on our punch list. Those include:
- Our own way to signal our intent to buy X, Y or Z, so the market comes to us. And to do that in trusted ways that limit disclosure of private information.
- Our own terms, which sites and services can agree to, rather than the other way around. Meaning no more clicking “agree” to 10,000-word documents we won’t read and we know screw us anyway.
- Our own way to manage and selectively present our identities and credentials, revealing to businesses no more than what the other party needs to know about us, on an as-needed basis.
- Our own way to change our surname or our home address in the records of every organization we deal with, in one move.
- Our own standard way to call for service or support, rather than suffering with as many different ways to do that as there are companies to deal with.
- Our own way to express genuine loyalty , rather than suffering with as many coercive and goofy “loyalty programs” as there are companies making themselves and all their customers cope with.
- An Internet of MY Things, which each of us controls for ourselves, and which are not suction cups on corporate tentacles.
- Our own way to keep track of and and control all our health and fitness records, for the good of all those who need that data, as well as ourselves.
- A standard way for us to share our experiences with the products we buy back to the companies that make and sell those products; and to suggest improvements—and for those companies to share back updates and improvements we should know about.
- Have wallets of our own, rather than only those provided by platforms. Here’s one.
- Have real relationships with companies, based on open standards and code, rather than relationships controlled entirely by the companies we deal with, each in their own different and silo’d ways.
All of these things are Me2B, and will give each of us scale, much as the standards that make the Internet, browsers and email all give us scale. And that scale will be just as good for the companies we deal with as are the Internet, browsers and email.
I’d love to see if there is any economics research and/or scholarship on personal scale and its leverage (such as those three things provide us all in the digital world). Because it’s a case that needs to be made.
We’ll also be talking about this (and much more) at VRM Day on Monday. See you there.