Value vs Values

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Data rights is a constantly recurring topic in our daily lives, although it remains an esoteric one. We know it’s an important issue to consider with serious personal pitfalls, but it’s difficult to fully understand or care about the implications of data privacy given the general busyness of our lives.

For example, the Equifax hack exposed sensitive information from over 150MM US citizens, including names, social security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, and more. Then there is the Yahoo hack to consider: The hackers were in the system for over 18 months, and sensitive information had been exposed from over 500MM users representing a total of over 3BN accounts. Yet the public response did not match the gravity of the situation and what it represented. We’re talking about the most protected data you can own: your identity.


People seem to place little value in such information, in spite of its importance. Why is that? The answer is surprisingly simple: the way we best understand value is by actually experiencing it ourselves.

This got me thinking about what I like to call: the dilemma of value vs values.

Experienced Value vs. Value Not Experienced

When we are able to tangibly experience the value something gives us, we cling to it more tightly. For example, we tend to highly value our social media profiles. They provide value to us by allowing us to connect with friends, family, and people around the world, to share our thoughts and be a part of a global conversation. Most go even deeper, providing authentication across the web and even access to quick and easy payment for goods and services.

With that in mind, imagine that our social media accounts were compromised, and we were no longer capable of accessing our own profiles. It’s no exaggeration to say that people would freak out, because something of great personal value has been taken away.

Does this mean that social media is more valuable than our social security numbers, bank account details or purchase data? Most people would instinctively answer no, but in everyday life, it is difficult to attribute value to those things unless they experience the value first-hand on a regular basis. There is something ethereal about these, yet they definitely are valuable enough to be stolen and some certainly can wreak havoc in our lives when in the hands of those with nefarious intent. As the systems converge, our credit cards are increasingly becoming linked to these profile – so the honeypot is certainly getting sweeter.

Objectively, our private information holds much more sway over our lives than social media does, but social media is instantly accessible and gives users a feeling of instant gratification. We can see its effect on our daily lives, and as a result we attribute more value to it on a regular basis. With other types of information, we don’t experience it in this same way. Not everyone looks at their bank account or checks their credit score every day, making it harder to connect with the value it provides.

By way of extreme example: there are unfortunate people in jail today who are the victims of identity theft and that can’t afford bail or decent legal representation. They get stuck in the system, and their life circumstances are such that they cannot easily (or in any reasonable time frame) be released. These people have had the value of their identity stolen out from under them.

It’s evident we need to take the security and value of our data a lot more seriously in the ever-advancing digital world.

Holding Value Accountable with Strong Values

Consider the example of purchase data — many companies offer value by promising to keep that data secure and use it to drive better shopping experiences. However, other times, they may sell the information to third-parties.

The core issue with this, is that often, it doesn’t make your data valuable to you… it is primarily providing commercial value to others. There is a famous saying: “When something is free, you are the product”. This sort of underhanded method that companies employ sometimes to make profits, certainly should go against the grain of any reasonable person’s values. When this happens, it becomes increasingly evident that the so-called “value” that companies claim to provide is entirely an hollow promise.

Giving something value is the first step, but when value is provided, it is necessary to back it up with strong values. As a society and as individuals, we have guidelines (generally achieved by social consensus) for the way we go about our lives.

We tend to align ourselves with beliefs and ideals: our values. If something has value, but doesn’t support our core values, it’s foundations are built on rot. Look at companies like Uber and Airbnb, who have damaged communities and people with their business practices. This demonstrates a negligence in caring for values, and has led to public controversy and loss of trust in these companies. In light of this, the shine of value they once provided has waned.

Value and Values Working Together

The typical consumer, knows that they should care more about values-based propositions, but their lives in this day and age are extremely busy. People won’t stop and notice an issue until a big blowout happens.

The process of values and value is a two-way street, and ideally, businesses poised for longevity should rise to the occasion and build strong values into their business model, while still focusing on providing something valuable to their customers.

Businesses know that they should provide value to consumers, but the true key for success is to merge value with strong values. Even charities, which are values-based instead of value-based, find ways to provide tangible value to consumers in order to achieve that balance.

Omaze pairs charitable giving with a chance to win various experiences with famous individuals. You could enter to win a chance to be interviewed by Trevor Noah on the Daily Show set, or join Hillary Clinton for a Broadway play, among the many other offerings that are meant to encourage promoting strong values while providing significant value.

The Shopin Difference

As we continue to move forward in our data-driven world, the concept of value vs. values will need to be more closely addressed, and the conversation should focus on how we can prevent data from being stolen and abused whilst still being leverageable to drive the consumer’s best experiences.

At Shopin, we are dedicated to accomplishing a unique path to strike that balance, providing you value from your purchase data, all the while backing it up with strong values.

We aim to bring forth a paradigm shift in protecting customer purchase data employing blockchain encryption and approach. This approach focuses on keeping the data out of the hands of retailers and companies that preyed on that information before, using it for their own gain or failing to keep it safe whilst making it more useful and accurate than ever before. That is our foundation of Shopin’s core values: that your purchase data will not be taken advantage of, and provide the best experiences.

Simultaneously, that same data will not simply sit there functionally useless. We intend to provide value to your data by driving the most personalized shopping experience to date, safely utilizing purchase data, visual AI, and user preferences to enhance the shopping experience. I encourage readers to look at Shopin’s website and explore the ways we deliver value back to your data.

Achieving a balance between value vs. values can be a great challenge for businesses and entrepreneurs, but it is one worth overcoming. As we continue toward the future, it is encumbered upon us to always be on the lookout for ways that we can align our ideas with strong values, while working to give true value to consumers.

Control Your Data Before It Controls You

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In today’s society, information is power. It holds a great influence over us, yet we often go about our days blissfully unaware of the vulnerability of the standard infrastructure. In spite of the many prominent data hacks in recent history, such as the events involving Equifax and Cambridge Analytica, the controversy surrounding them has subsided in the public forum, and many people have moved on seemingly disregarding any possible threat to their own livelihood.

Such security being compromised is a more concerning threat than something as simple as personal information being used for targeted ads, although this does not change the concerning nature of how individual data is used to gain influence over a person. Personal identifying information (pii) is disseminated all the time, through purchase data and many other forms of private information sent out into the world and used by others to shape our experiences.

One proposed idea to combat this lack of control over our data is the creation of a data privacy bill of rights that gives pii other data ownership back into the rightful hands of consumers. Regulations like this would be a step in the right direction, although it is perhaps even more important to consider the distinction between owning pii and other such data as opposed to controlling how it is utilized.

This process does not simply end at owning and controlling our online data. As has been famously quoted many times in history, with great power comes great responsibility. In the modern age, it would be virtually impossible to attempt to keep all of our data private, considering it is an integral part of managing and enhancing our day-to-day lives; personal profiling of our shopping experiences, social media, banking/financial information becomes more and more essential to interacting with exponential advances of modern technology.

Finn Lützow-Holm Myrstad TED talk – How tech companies deceive you into giving up your data and privacy @finnmyrstad

The fight to protect data and provide oversight to infrastructure to the benefit of users has been “a losing game” — data is continually generated and monitored as we use the internet, make purchases, sign up for websites and so forth. When it comes to controlling our data, this proves a difficult challenge to overcome, as there is only so much that legislation can do to ease the pressures of the overwhelming demand of such data consumption which has become increasingly available for purchase by major conglomerates. As more data is created and assimilated, the responsibility for it also becomes greater, and the thought of controlling our data becomes less accessible and appealing to the general public.

The scale of the subject makes the notion of controlling it an amorphous and ethereal concept that can be difficult to comprehend. It is for this reason that individuals on a broad scale have aversions staying current to the advances in technology and learning how to control their data, despite the importance of doing so. To be fair, there isn’t much tangible value our data can offer to the consumer directly in its current state, despite its massive value to the adtech and commercial economy. Paradoxically it has enough value to be hacked, but not enough perceived and actualized value to the consumer themselves. Furthermore, people live busy lives and it’s hard to prioritize something that has a value that is so occulted and difficult to comprehend, instead feel adequately protected by regulations such as the GDPR.

A survey by Martech Today shows that a significant portion of consumers have expressed a desire for greater control over data, although the societal standards surrounding individual data control tells a different story. How many times have you skipped over a private policy agreement, or ignored terms and conditions? Most everyone has done it. Research by Deloitte confirms this, revealing that over 90 percent of consumers accept terms and conditions without reading them. It is practically second nature for people to willingly hand over their data and let others assume responsibility for it. We must work to change this mentality to encourage individuals to take charge of their own data by proper incentive, and that path may be finally giving data tangible value back to individuals.

The Wall Street Journal – GDPR: What Is It and How Might It Affect You?

As we begin to seek control and responsibility of our own data, there is a clear requirement for the creation of a holistic data ecosystem that provides personal value to our information. The differences in experience are subtle but can provide a monumental change in security and optimal use. In the situations where a retailer uses data to provide recommendations vs times that a consumer chooses to share their own data with specific businesses, the outcome is virtually the same: a person will have their data provide them with a personalized shopping experience that benefits them. The vital difference is that in the second case, a consumer is also compensated and can be at less risk of their data being stolen or abused when the incentive to maintain users is created by limiting accessibility to PII (Personal Identifiable Information), forcing security measures to be implemented.

Developing our own data identities is about controlling our online information instead of having our data purchased and used by others to define us. In the end, it is not simply a matter of controlling our data, but realizing the value of it. Controlling our data is only the first step, and one must answer a fundamental questions: how do we standardize the value of our personal data? How do we create an ecosystem where that value can be leveraged without any of the security concerns of the past? Moving forward with this endeavor, we as a community must find the next steps for data rights and consumer relationships.