Building a personal data locker
If you were building a digital container to store your personal data, what would it look like?
Personal data being information associated with you: your contacts, your photos, the web pages you’ve visited, the places you’ve been, the messages you’ve sent and received, and so on. In short, your stuff.
Here’s my personal wish list of technical requirements:
- It has to be made of free software, of course
- It must keep my data secure, while allowing me to share it when and how I want to
- It needs to handle a range of different data types natively, and be extensible to new types, from photos to real-time sensor data
- It should be able to collect my data from many different places where it is being created and stored
- It should have a rich API, so that I can create applications which access my data
- If I want to, I should be able to host it myself, on my own hardware, without compromising my ability to access and share it
Of course, this isn’t merely an academic exercise, as my new day job at Singly is about building exactly this type of system. With a technical team including Jeremie Miller of Jabber and XMPP fame, our goal is to develop a personal data platform which meets these criteria and more.
There’s a lot of work to do, but today, you can check out the code and run a locker of your own, which can sync in data from Facebook, Twitter, Google, Foursquare, Github and dozens of other services. It’s a bit of a bear to set up, particularly if you don’t already have API keys for these services, but that’s fairly normal at this early stage of development.
If you try it, or have thoughts about what we’re doing, please let me know in the comments.