Why digi.me is launching a new API and SDK for integrated social data

This post was co-written by Shane Green (@shanegreen) and Tarik Kurspahic (@tariktech) and originally appeared on Medium.

Anyone familiar with digi.me and our mission knows we are focused on empowering people with their data. We are building a data-driven future aligned with the needs and interests of people — where individuals can securely and privately aggregate, analyze and share massive quantities of data from across their life.

This user-centric approach to data also holds promise for developers and companies who want to collaborate with their users in a win-win data partnership. We think social data is a great place to start.

We have launched a new API and SDK for accessing normalized, integrated user data from five of the top social networks: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Flickr.

The idea is simple:

— A single integration to access tons more social data from your users wherever they may be

— The ability to establish your own terms of service with your users by asking them for their data and breaking free of the terms of service and restrictions from social networks

— Wicked new opportunities to innovate

— Protection from regulators by requesting permission from your users and embracing transparency

— Democratizing data by promoting the mission of empowering people

A single integration for tons more social data

Digi.me’s consumer app allows users to import their social data from five of the leading social networks. Recent court cases in Europe have affirmed the right of users to download and sync complete copies of their data, including their own posts, photos, videos, likes and comments, as well as many of the same types of data from friends where they have been tagged.

Without ever seeing, touching or holding a user’s data, digi.me makes it easy for users to connect to their various accounts and get a complete library of their social data. Our ontology, data normalization and standardization techniques ensure the data is easily accessible and reusable via a single API and SDK.

Your users will need the digi.me app to connect to their accounts and fetch their data. From there, your app needs to ask the user for consent to access it under terms you agree to with your users. Once the user approves your request, you get access to the requested data under terms you set with the user.

Break free of onerous terms of service

Again, due to our unique architecture and business approach, the users themselves are not subject to the normal terms of service of social networks that apply to businesses. Once users download their own copy of all of their social data (which they hold — not digi.me), they are free to share it however they choose and without restrictions.

So you can enjoy the peace of mind knowing that you have the ability to collaborate with your users and get permission to access the data that drives your business.

More data + new rules = more opportunity to innovate

We are constantly amazed at the things people build when they have access to data and the freedom to innovate. Digi.me provides a permission-based way for you to seek access to ever-expanding datasets far beyond social, including financial, wearables, health and entertainment directly from your users.

Never before has such a combination of up-to-date datasets been available to analyze and leverage.

Speaking of innovation, we decided to put the API through its first real test by putting on a hackathon at Reykjavik University in Iceland and the results were nothing short of awesome. Check out this page to see what smart people like you are already building on digi.me.

Regulators will love you

Instead of worrying about the uncertain regulatory environment, lean in to a user-centric model, a favorite of regulators in both Europe and the United States.

Digi.me has been recognized by regulators as the ideal approach for a fair, ethical and sustainable data-driven future. Everyone is a winner — consumers, companies, developers. Plus, in Europe, digi.me is entirely compliant with the new General Data Protection Rules (GDPR).

Your customers will love you

Your users won’t forget that you introduced them to this revolutionary new way of being in control of their digital lives. Help your users break free of data monopolies. Study after study shows people are deeply uncomfortable with the current model.

It’s not just great marketing, be among the first to do the right thing by your users.

We are already working with people to change the world and create innovative solutions, but we are just getting started. We’d love to hear what you think!

Personal Receives pii2011 Innovator Spotlight Audience Choice Award

When you spend almost two years working on something, and you show it for the first time to a room full of 250 experts, you start to reconnect with long-forgotten anxieties from, say, your first day at a new school. And when the internet connection for the live demo fails, albeit momentarily, you are right back on your first date trying to remember even the most basic details about your life.

Thankfully, Personal’s debut at pii2011, the Privacy Identity Innovation conference, was well received by a patient and supportive audience, who selected us and PassTouch (a super cool visual touchscreen login app) for the Innovator Spotlight Audience Choice Award. Given all of the thoughtful people and companies in the room working on this historical shift towards a user-centric data ecosystem, we are thrilled to get this recognition.

I have a lot of competing reflections from the conference. At times I have complete confidence that the company-centric data ownership model will change quickly now that  public awareness is growing so fast and real alternatives are emerging. But I also appreciate how hard it will be to align all of the good intent from so many different players, some of whom are still thinking too incrementally, while the current model continues to accelerate wildly (I couldn’t help but notice LinkedIn’s meteoric IPO updates while listening to the speakers).

Finally, please check out Personal’s new web site and videos at www.personal.com to let me know what you think. We spent a lot of time and effort trying to make our product and vision accessible to people who are not experts. They are the ones who have to buy in to this model for it to ever have a chance of succeeding.

Data Gems and the Value of Data

Data gemsIt’s been a while since I’ve had time to write – at least thoughtfully. We have been heads down since the beginning of the year finishing our user-centric data platform, data vault and permission-based data sharing service, and are excited to start moving into our next closed beta release shortly.

One of the biggest challenges with a product and model as different as ours – where individuals aggregate, own and use their personal data for their benefit – is demonstrating the real world value of such data and making it easy to manage in large amounts across one’s life. We developed the concept of a “data gem” to help make abstract, “lifeless” data more tangible and real, and to highlight its literal and figurative value (and where else would you store your gems but a vault!).

A data gem is discrete set of reusable, modular data that addresses some kind of activity, thing, issue or need. The three examples in the image are a Wi-Fi gem, which contains information about my router and how to access my Wi-Fi network, an Air Travel Preferences gem, which contains information about how I like to fly, and a Car Insurance gem, which effectively replaces the print or PDF car insurance policies locked away in my filing cabinet or my hard drive with actionable, structured data. Some gems are for organizing information in your life, while others are designed for sharing, and yet others for commercial activities.

The bright orange circle is Personal’s particular take on how a data gem might look, but the concept goes beyond our implementation. As we developed them, you can enter or import data once and have it populate the same fields across multiple gems. They are also designed to be modular so they can be easily combined when shared with others. For example, a babysitter could easily be granted access to related gems on the kids, the home, the television, and emergency contacts. The granularity of gems also allows a high degree of control over how much information is shared with others without creating burdensome user controls.

We have created about 100 gems so far, and are starting to engage others to define new gems and standards for making them as interoperable as possible. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts. S.