Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ambigous Data

Usually, when I use the word "ambiguous", it means that someone was not very clear in their explanation or documentation.

Having an installation procedure that can be interpreted "ambiguously" generally means I stay up long hours to "unambiguously" explain why the server is broken.

Even worse, if the two words in the title, taken together, are applied to the results of a verification test, it means some people wasted a lot of time.

But... with one of my bosses sending entertaining tweets and posting pictures from the seminar he's attending in Dubai, and I myself looking forward to a few days in London, I find myself contemplating the chosen title in a different context...

Well, in all fairness, it needs a third word. Universal. Ambiguous, Universal, Data. Meaning that data access should be available everywhere, and be so "without us having to be explicit about wanting to access it" (in the getting-access-to sense, rather than a lets-do-away-with-privacy-sense).

Currently, roaming data fees for someone using Twitter, Foursquare, Latitude, Facebook, Layar and watch a Youtube or two, could rival the gross national product of some (non-oil-producing) 3rd-world countries. And, while mobile and location-based services are cool, I find myself reprehensive of freely using them in an environment which I know my mobile device would consider "not it's home network".

This reprehension is both direct, as I wouldn't like to pick up the tab if I used my private device, and indirect, by the sense of responsibility the previously-mentioned boss would "incur upon me" after having to pay the tab if I used my corporate device to do in London as he did in Dubai.

And yes, this is a completely unfair (and presumptive) comparison. One I take creative license on to be able to make the previous paragraph work the way it does.

But... I digress...

Thinking about this makes me wonder how much "less" the telco's would make if their revenue on data would come from pure volume rather than right-to-access. Lowering the threshold would presumably increase the volume. An economics-101 calculation might prove or disprove my gut-feeling that, currently, the restricted-access/roaming model is actually cutting them out of a huge volume of (micro-transaction) revenue.

Conversely, the lowered threshold would work it's magic on the availability of, and access to, any location-based, or (mobile) social-media, applications. Where "Layar" was the first one (to my knowledge) to coin the term "enhanced reality", once "data" would become accessible to us like, say, air, would it finally become as transparent a part of our lives like text-messaging now has? Should it be?

Are the telco's really best-served by their "monopoly" on access to data? The attitude that you need to "deal with them" (and pay through the nose) before you are allowed through the gates...

Or would they be best served becoming a silent partner? Quietly receiving the millions-upon-millions of fractional parts of everybody universally adding their proverbial two-cents ambiguously from anywhere in the world?

I know I'll be posting a few opinions from London...