We do research sometimes (you may have heard). Or at least, HATLAB does (and the rest of us just gets to learn from it 😉).
Personal data represents "a source of considerable economic utility" because it's, you know, infinitely renewable and infinitely reusable. Without oversight it tends to go all over the place, generating all kinds of content for this newsletter, and frequently the ICO and tech for good powers-that-be are frustrated by how hard it is to responsibly leverage the stuff.
How productive are the sectors that leverage this resource? The stuff's increasingly relevant in both market and consumer contexts. You could argue the effective and efficient deployment of personal data is essential to resilient and profitable business ecosystems across the whole board, both small firms seeking to position themselves digitally and medium-sized and large scale businesses for whom it is / can be new revenue and reinforced customer loyalty.
Knowing the value and utility of personal data promotes efficient choice-making at the individual level and empowers intelligent consumerism within social networks, and macroeconomic observations of data trends provide collective insights at the societal level.
But learning how these things are going to work is haaaaaard. Combining a knowledge of the regulatory environment with an understanding of the economic incentives and opportunities around data is hard. Marrying these to the role played by digital technologies and data science is hard. Understanding them with an appreciation of modern digital personhood is hard. Identifying the interdisciplinary knowledge from the social sciences and humanities, computer science, and engineering that is needed to ensure good digital technology is created is hard. Doing all of this to achieve maximum impact from personal data usage -- it's all very hard.
But it now seems that HATLAB is going to have a go. They are proud to announce that they are project managing and coordinating a research initiative that creates a simulated digital environment called DataSphere: An Interdisciplinary and user-focused digital environment for data mobility, pursued by researchers at the Universities of Cambridge, Warwick, Imperial, Exeter, and Surrey. There are expected to be 10,000 ‘netizens’ in DataSphere. Exciting.
A briefing will be held first, announcing the project and expanding on some of these listed themes. If you're engaged in this space, HATLAB is inviting partners and the date for your diary is on the 25th June at 1400 - Imperial College London.
Yours in HAT,