First because if you tell me I have no friends simply because my data is not on your platform, you’re not getting it. I am the landscape, you are the map. And the map does not get to say what reality is, just what it thinks it looks like.
So I would like Facebook, Amazon, Flickr, Plaxo, LinkedIn, Google and all of you out there, to sign my Terms of Service at the same time I am signing yours. True communication is, per Habermas, based on symmetry, a situation where there are no power differences interfering during the exchange. We will have to mutually agree on how you may use my data, and how I may use your services that are based on that data. You have your rules for using your service, well I have mine when it comes to adding my data to your service.
Second because I want my tools to become smarter, a lot smarter. And it is only me that can provide the context and data that allows tools to be smarter. I need to be in control of my data for you to let your tools be smarter. I need to be the owner of e.g. my favourites/wishlists and preferences for you to really give me good recommendations.
Because I am holding back right now, as I don’t get to keep control over my data. I am willing to share a lot more data about myself and my actions, a whole lot more. If you think I am exposing a lot of myself already, think again. It ain’t half of it. It ain’t ten percent of it. And of that small percentage your service only has access to a small fragment.
I am prepared to share a whole lot more, as indeed I already do in each and every conversation I have with other people. But only within trusted circles I define, context specific and situation aware.
That is how my tools, i.e. your services, need to become smarter: granularity in trust, and context specific and situation aware permissions. So I can increase the richness of my conversations. Having control over my own data is the number one prerequisite for it, otherwise I won’t play.
With Facebook applications and the OpenSocial initiative by Google et al openness ‘is now the new black‘, and the new sine quae non of competition in this space. Let’s take that one step further. You’re opening up your system’s structures, now do the logical next thing: let me control my own data, and let me set the rules of how you can use that data.