Friday, February 20, 2009

Does Facebook privacy and copyright disaster call for Microsoft counterstrike?

Privacy and copyright concerns skyrocket after the facebook privacy disaster made visible to everyone what is happening with terms and conditions, those huge long pages hardly anyone reads. The solution could be close – if only Microsoft would enhance Outlook (and IBM Lotus Notes) to a global communication platform where users can own and control all their data.

Need for a communication platform

Users want, perhaps need, to be everywhere: Twitter, Linkedin, facebook, live, Digg, reddit, plaxo, high5, stumble upon, you name it. People want to find and meet friends, colleagues, potential future employers, buddies and want to communicate easily. Contacts, calendar, mail, video, pictures and publishing are the main elements of a tool of choice.

All online platforms offer some of this ‘cross connecting’ already or are heading in that direction. GREAT, this really helps. They login to my email accounts and pull the data. Still ok. There are tools to publish across several platforms. Great. Calendar integration is on the way. So everything is fine, or not?

Privacy concerns and copyright disaster

Problem is, some, if not most platforms want to keep everything, analyse it, perhaps sell it or use it with other companies. Remember that facebook disaster? Use of my pictures, my mails forever? Use of the knowledge of my contacts and network forever? What happens, if Facebook fails or what if Google buys Twitter including all user data?

Proof is easy - just remember how often you can upload you contacts, and how rare it is that you can download them!

Does anyone want a possible employer to know everything about what they have done in private time? Just an easy example: Maybe someone is looking for a pharmacy marketer – and someone has marked something in stumble-upon saying this pill is bad, dangerous and there is a free alternative. Would they still hire that person? Or is it just a matter of time that this will find it’s way into the HR departments?

So what do we need? Requirements for a communication central

A tool needs to offer to:
• Maintain ownership and control over my address book and connections
• Maintain control of my own publications and posts
• To connect all mail accounts
• To connect all social networks, platforms, etc. and search for my contacts
• Connect people with other people, sort, group
• Post same content to different platforms
• Post different content to various platforms
• Get calendars and events for my calendar

Microsoft counterstrike? The basics

Take MS Outlook for a start. Using it for all mail accounts is easy. To integrate, group, separate contacts is good, too; not very handy, but manageable and completely in my ownership. Love that. A good calendar, some item tracking, some security features. Take the small business opportunity manager and there is a simple CRM tool to your use. Nice but solid basics.

Want more? Connect Outlook with ALL online platforms Bi-directional
1. First, please add connectors (Apis, tools, plugins) to connect with ALL online platforms, to check for existing contacts, to import and export contacts. (Don’t wait for others to do that, time is precious!)
2. Then add a way to integrate events from offline to online and vice versa.
3. Now add a tool to send messages to boards and platforms as well (like you had with the tool for publishing on news forums many years ago), and a way to keep track of that.
4. Then, give it a nice surface, to copy or move posts from one to another location per mouse. Drag and drop publishing.

Why not ‘new tweet’ or ‘new entry in facebook’ in the menu? Why not tweets as special kind of inbox message? Why not copy a picture from online platform to online platform via Outlook just per mouse click?
There is much more, but you get the idea.

Communication central with privacy control and content ownership

More then ever people are in need of a communication central, making the ever changing communication manageable. Online solutions may not be the best according to the terms and conditions with which they come often.
Microsoft – and a few others like IBM – have tools already, on which these platforms could easily be built. Please, don’t try to just copy what’s going on online, wake up and use your assets!


  1. Hm. Yes, even integrating Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc. into the various messengers would be very helpful. Posting from yahoo messenger right onto twitter, posting from live messenger right onto live (without opening a browser) would be so helpful. But I guess these IT-steamships of yahoo and microsoft might not be flexible enough to do that.

  2. Yes, but please not Microsoft. Anything but Microsoft!

  3. Fine, does not need to be MS. Lotus notes?-) Have been disappointed by thunderbird and pegasus mail is not around any more, pity.


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