Category Archives: Using Digi Me

Evolution of a personal data start-up: the digi.me story

Digi.me has come a long way since 2009 – but how did our personal data journey of discovery begin?

It started life, as so many businesses do, as a lightbulb moment during a conversation our founder, Julian Ranger, was having with a board member at his innovation hub iBundle.

That colleague had a friend who had just lost three years’ worth of Facebook data after a glitch wiped his account while he was changing his password.

A conversation about what a shame it was to lose all those posts, photos and comments quickly turned into the realisation that there was nothing out there to help people back up their social media – so he decided there and then to create an app that did just that.

So SocialSafe (our original name) was born –  – a great and easy-to-use social media tool that allowed you to save information and pictures you had posted to your various social media accounts and search them and see the original comments and likes. Users could also make their own collections of content and export what they wanted, see their most popular posts and followers and much more!

Crucially, an early and key decision was for this data to be stored locally on the user’s own device, not on our company servers, ensuring privacy.

Julian hired a company to build the app, and it started getting users and traction, as well as some press from big industry names like Mashable and Hermione Way.

But, Julian being the entrepreneur he is, his attention was largely on other products and so this new app was little more than a hobby for the first year.

But then users started asking if we could include Twitter as well, and then if they could somehow view all of this data that they had gathered – and so we built a viewer that normalised and aggregated all the data together so you could look back across all your posts and photos across networks.

Next came the ability to search by date with the journal functionality, meaning you could find out what you posted on any given day across all your linked networks.

Demand came from users for back-ups for other social media networks as well, so we started adding the functionality for Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Viadeo and many more – and suddenly it became clear there was massive demand for this kind of service, where people could get their data back somewhere they could see it and then use it how they wanted.

For Julian, the defining moment came when he realised that what SocialSafe was doing was similar to what he had done for the military for 20+ years – bringing disparate data from multiple sources together, normalising and aggregating it and making it available for reuse.

With this lightbulb moment, SocialSafe started moving development towards the direction we are focused on now – which is gathering the data for the benefit of the user, but also helping them do more with it – and in the process help businesses desperate for accurate data to use for innovation and personalisation purposes too.

In 2013, Julian decided to focus full-time on building digi.me as a business, as it was clear that how people viewed personal data and how they felt about companies taking and using it for their own means was undergoing a seismic shift. He saw – as we all do – our app as an obvious solution to those privacy and data concerns.

Digi.me won the Le Prix d’Argent at the Le Web start-up competition later in the year from more than 700 entrants, and over time our Consent Access model, which is due to be released within weeks, allowing users to share their data on their terms in return for service, convenience or reward, was developed and evolved.

This impending expansion saw us change our name from SocialSafe, which was well-known but really related only to the (excellent) social media back-up element, to digi.me, which reflects the whole-person-and-life-data tool it will soon be.

Things began to snowball in 2015 as we started looking to the future, and what the personal data economy would look like in another five years. It was clear to us that there had to be a cultural shift, from individuals having things done to their data but unable to access it themselves, to becoming the centre of their connected world, back in control of their data and able to use it as they wished. That is the Internet of Me – and it is the future of the personal data economy.

Our new app will retain its social media back up and aggregation functions, but users will also be able to add their own data from other areas of their life, starting first with financials and health, and then moving on to other such as shopping.

The Consent Access aspect will then allow businesses, who want access to these rich, deep datasets that our users will soon hold, to approach them directly and offer them personalised offers in exchange for seeing some slices of that data.

Our product and profile continues to go from strength to strength, with partnerships with Lenovo, Western Digital and Evernote among others, and other exciting developments with major players in various industries including health, insurance, banking, telcos and FMCG.

So we’re very excited for the future and what it will bring – both for digi.me and ultimately for the benefit of all of our users and partners.

 

Barack Obama’s social media archive and the power of a searchable self

As America prepares to say goodbye to the first President of the social media era, the White House has announced the creation of a searchable database of everything Barack Obama and his administration posted on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest over eight years and two terms in office.

The archive, in itself, containing over 250,000 posts, photos, and videos shared by more than 100 official Obama White House social media profiles, is impressive – but the intention behind it more so.

By creating this archive and setting a challenge to the public to see how creative they can be with this wealth of data, as well as what practical uses they can find, the White House is demonstrating a keen awareness of how sharing data can benefit the public good.

We’ve been open before about the win-win situation that data-sharing creates, for both businesses large and small as well as users.

In fact it’s the cornerstone of our Internet of Me vision, where individual control starts with the gathering of our personal data in one secure place and then sharing slices of it, if we choose, for personalised services, convenience or rewards.

Data taken and taken from behind our backs, as now by ad tech companies, is widely known to be 30-50 per cent wrong, often misattributed and rarely up to date even if it doesn’t contain major mistakes.

But 100 per cent accurate and deep data, shared with permission, is a building block of innovation and personalisation – and something that is deeply desirable.

And when that’s shared for the good of all, such as health research projects, then the results can benefit us all as well.

So if you want to see why President Obama sees value in having a searchable archive – and get one of your own – come along and find out more about digi.me!

Do more with your personal data in 2017

In the spirit of new beginnings and better habits, many of us make New Year’s resolutions around health and work  – but have you considered what you want to do with your data in the next 12 months? Or rather, what you want to start your data doing for you?

If not you should, as online your data is your digital you, and all this information about you, created by you, that is spread far and wide has associated value and power in addition to giving you greater personal insight into key areas of your life.

As our founder Julian Ranger explained recently, when we get access to this wealth of personal data all in one place, great things can happen.

You know digi.me at present as a pretty cool social media back-up tool with a vision to help us all get back in control of our data and do more with it.

So we’re very excited to tell you that the first major step in that plan – which we call the Internet of Me – will be taking place very shortly,  when we drop a major new software release that will let users add other data streams including full financials as well as changing the whole look and feel of the app.

The team at digi.me HQ in the UK have seen the demos  and continue to be blown away by what our developers have achieved. We can’t wait to share it with you and while it will be a limited beta test initially, we’re planning for a general release within the next couple of months.

So stay tuned, because you will not want to miss out on this!

Understanding the Personal Data Economy

Explaining the purpose and vision behind giving users back control over their personal data can be one of the trickiest things we have to do.

While more and more people are becoming aware of what happens to their data behind their backs, and the personal data economy, including solutions such as ours, continues to grow apace, for those needing to start from the basics there is a lot to take in.

In future, that job will be made a lot easier by this excellent whitepaper from the Mobile Ecosystems Forum, which is the result of many interviews, including with our founder and personal data privacy expert Julian Ranger.

This, from the foreword, is an effective summing up of the problems facing the data harvesting industry today, and why a change to an individual-centric is both inevitable and beneficial to all: “Simply, the personal data economy describes a powerful new idea: letting individuals take ownership of their information so they can share it with businesses on their terms.

“Interest in the idea is growing for reasons of efficiency and ethics. The average individual has personal data stored in dozens of different locations. but it can be hard to access this information and then share it. Giving data back to individuals would solve this.

“It would also address the concerns some people have about the way companies accrue data about them and, indeed, many companies would welcome this too. Data harvesting is expensive and can be ineffective; companies are looking for an alternative.”

We have always talked about digi.me’s Internet of Me vision, where the user is at the centre of their connected life, being a true win-win for both users and businesses, and the paper explores this in depth in a way that is accessible and interesting for all.

I thoroughly recommend a full read of it – especially as at 33 pages it’s reasonably short and concise!

 

 

Pitch at Palace: vote for digi.me to win the People’s Choice Award!

We’re one of 42 finalists competing for the People’s Choice Award in the Duke of York’s Pitch at Palace event, and we’d love your vote to try and help us win!

You can watch Julian’s pitch video and vote for us here – we’d really appreciate it.

Thank you in advance for helping to spread the word about our great app and plans for the future of personal data!

Who am I? #iamdata – a new digi.me campaign

As human beings, we are all the sum of our experiences – but online we are defined by the personal data we scatter as we go about our lives.

At digi.me, we believe that your data is yours, that it is powerful and that it is valuable.

And we want to help you take back control, by enabling you to get your personal data from all over the web, see it in ways you couldn’t before and then (soon) share it if you wish.

Download digi.me now to get started!

 

Colour me dataful – check out the new version of the digi.me iOS app

Because digi.me is never standing still and always evolving, welcome to the Colour Edition of our iOS app – featuring more colour, quicker navigation and iOS 10 support.

Search has been given a makeover, so pretty, colourful, bouncy buttons await you.

While we were there we tweaked the date selector to make it a little more obvious (and colourful). It seems to have done the trick, at least from our early tests – but do let us know what you think.

A number of you wanted a way to quickly jump to a particular month whilst scrolling. We studied how others have cracked that and settled on a very cool approach Google use for their Docs app.

Our new quick scroll will show itself when you start to scroll through your posts (or you can swipe it in from the right). Grab it and you’ll see each month listed. Click on one of these to jump down to posts from that month or just use it to quickly scroll 😉 Oh and it’s pretty colourful.

Gestures are a funny mixed bag of joy. Once known they speed things up, but they can be easily forgotten. So we’ve tidied up the post view itself. You now have quick access to sharing and closing. Tap the caption to read any comments and from there you can go see the original.

Swipes are still there if that’s how you roll. But you want to know if we added colour right? We felt your photos are so bright that we didn’t need to 🙂

One final gem we managed to get in this release is support for Spotlight search. Ever pull down on your home screen to search your device? If you do (and you should) you’ll now see results from your digi.me library included. So next time you’re quickly searching for a friend’s number you might see photos they commented on or were tagged in.

Love our app? (and we hope you do!) Then please leave us a review to share the love with others. Got comments? Shake the app to send feedback, or leave a comment below.

What is big data?

Personal data makes up the sum of our lives – but how often do we use the phrase ‘big data’ without fully understanding what it means?

We know – or should do – that pretty much everything we do these days leaves a digital footprint of some kind, but how many people think about or know what happens to that data once we’ve created it? Or that it’s not just what we do online, but offline as well – if it involves carrying a smartphone or using something like an Oyster travel card that knows where you’ve been and when.

Creating more data about ourselves every single day, we also produce an evermore detailed picture of who we are and what we like and do, that is easy for advertisers to track, gather and then monetise, either by tracking us online or selling that data on.

Scary, right? And more than a little annoying. The most obvious manifestation is targeted ads, that follow you around the web once you’ve searched for something.

But, as the advertisers don’t actually know you, although they’re trying very hard to act as if  they do, that information is very often inaccurate – not least if you’be bought a present for a friend or relative of the opposite gender, for example, or for a child.

So big data is omnipresent, evergrowing and often wrong – but what else is it? As a primer, this piece by BBC Radio presenter Timandra Harkness is my new go-to.

Smart on how data enriches our lives while also succinctly flagging up the issues with letting artifical intelligence overtake the human variety, she sums up thus:

“Big data has immense potential, no doubt about that. I met people who are using it to fight disease, to build a global database of destructive and dangerous insects, to prevent plane crashes, and to look into the darkest corners of the universe. But when it comes to human beings, it can be too big for its boots. And the fact we’re so willing to hand over life-changing decisions to big data says less about its true capabilities than it does about our lack of trust in ourselves, and in each other.”

Enjoy!

digi.me and the ‘single social stream’

We’ve had such an exciting time here of late, finalising our £4.2m Series A funding and sharing our future plans for health and financial data, that you could be forgiven for forgetting just how awesome our existing app is.

So it was great to see it get some press coverage in its own right, from Mike Elgan at Computerworld, who has a huge interest in the whole sphere of ‘lifelogging’ and building a truly connected world.

Riffing on Facebook’s statement from the time of its IPO in 2012 about wanting a more open and connected internet, he laments the fact that Facebook, these days, is actually more about just trying to do that by getting all of the users itself, through organic growth and the acquisitions of both Instagram and Whatsapp.

And that, actually, most of us access multiple sites, maintaining multiple friend lists and interactions with the people on them, rather than being able to do all of this in one place.

But this brings its own problems: “The trouble is, using several social services is really hard — all that switching from one mobile app to the next, and from one website to the next. Each has its own design, menu structure, settings and configuration options, and processes for handling photos, likes and mentions.

“It’s also impossible for someone with a lot of friends to remember which people are on what network. Most people who try to use several social networks end up forgetting about some and spending most of their time on one, or maybe two. So much for an open and connected world.”

But he sees many benefits to a single stream, where all your posts are gathered in one place for insight and convenience, and guess who he has just found out about? Yep – digi.me – and he’s already a big fan:

“So there you go, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs: Digi.Me is a platform upon which you can build a service that achieves Facebook’s mission to make the world more open and connected — without a Facebook monopoly.”

While he sings our praises here – and even more so on his FatCast podcast interview with our founder and chairman Julian Ranger – “the company makes a product that you should absolutely be using” it’s only fair to say that we’re not the total solution to his single stream desire – he wants somewhere he can import the posts of others, too, and a single place where he can interact with them all, and that’s not what we do. (Although in time we expect to become a platform that others build their own services on.)

But we thoroughly recommend both reading the interview and listening to the whole podcast for an excellent and interesting discussion about what social media activity is today, and could be in the future.

And we can only agree that you absolutely should be using digi.me!

 

My son has just turned 3 – and I’ve already forgotten so much about him

My second son had his third birthday recently – and flicking back through old pictures and posts on my digi.me I was struck by how much has already fallen out of my own, non-digital memory.

I’m not an obsessive photo-taker by any means, for social media or otherwise, but as I scrolled back on my phone through happy days out, big moments and things deemed funny or silly enough to snap on the spur of the moment, I was shocked by how many I couldn’t immediately place, or that didn’t quickly spark additional memories.

Partly, of course, this is just life – son 2 followed exactly 23 months after his older brother, so we were busy all the time. Still are, really, as we combine family life with building two businesses and the associated stresses of freelance and contractor life. And let’s not forget a full two years (and counting) of 5am wake-ups. I haven’t – and I doubt I will.

Still, that said, I want to remember, and be reminded of, all the fun I have with my boys, now and in the future – I want the keys to my memory to hand all the time, easily accessible and easy to explore.

For me personally, this ability of digi.me to act as an exterior brain, all-seeing and uber reliable, is my favourite of its features. I love scrolling back through random dates, remembering what I was doing and how small (so small) my kids looked in the reasonably recent past.

I enjoy, too, the flashback pictures and posts that pop up each morning, and the ability to gather favourite pictures from different platforms together on a beautiful PDF.

For my 21st, my parents spent ages going through drawers and albums full of family pictures, to make me an album of my (I quote)  ‘first, great 21 years’. I loved it then and I love it now, not just because it was a labour of love, but because all the best bits and highlights of all our lives are in there, contained in one large album that I can flick through at will.

When my sons come of age, I look forward to doing something similar that they too can keep – but I suspect digi.me will make the job a whole lot easier!