Since the late ’90s, internet companies set out to make the world more open and connected.
Internet companies tracked all our activities – from social interactions, messages, spending, workouts, home layouts, browsing, and where we go. This data powers conveniences we now expect – turn by turn directions, contextual information anywhere, or the ability to instantly connect with our friends.
Digital Transformation turned data into a lever of customer experience from a mere ledger of business. The more data a company has on us, the more ways they can serve us. Now everyone is building a Data Moat.
The last decade taught us a lot about digital privacy. We Are The Product, we now know. Friendly Services – dating apps, email organizers, app analytics, flashlight apps – sold our data to hedge funds, facial recognition companies, and data brokers. Sometimes it was in the fine print. With third party cookies the whole internet followed us around. Digital Privacy looms large today because data flows are growing but our trust is eroded.
Is it bait and switch if the practice was referenced in the terms?
Privacy comes up less in daily life. Our neighborhood coffee shop knows our order. We share our location to get a ride. We tell a friend a secret. We wear a crazy Halloween costume in public. We come out to our friends. We share a project we’re proud of.
This sharing is different. The vibes are different. It’s the context?? No one’s watching. Maybe everyone’s watching! Who cares – was that the point?
We share because it’s chill.
The experiences that lead up to now – the books we’ve read, the trips we’ve taken, the trails we’ve run, the selfies we’ve taken – they’re all ours. Records of these experiences are scattered across the internet. We helped create them. They’re ours too.
The internet is at a funny spot.
AI is about to completely transform the internet. Cheap intelligence will be everywhere, deployed by anyone. If you want something, all you have to do is ask. If AI could reference your experiences, you might not even have to ask at all. Just click, snap, dart or mutter. Any business can roll out the red carpet – like our local coffee shop but at scale. Everyone will deploy AI to help us create, learn, discover and explore.
On the other hand, the surveilling Data Moats that could power this just aren’t that big. Even the big ones aren’t that big. They’re fragmented and sparse. A few clicks. A purchase last summer. Some scrolling. That time we listened to Irish Jigs on repeat. Runs we did on our fitbit but not our watch. A like. Two stories.
The hyper-personalized internet will not come from Data Moats. The internet and its communities, a growing subset of the power set of all of us, is too varied and too extraordinary to be exclusively squeezed by anyone.
But this is about us. It’s our internet. Our constructs. Our references. Meaning we made. And forgot. And laughed about.
Your Kind of Music
So far we’ve seen the internet through Silicon Valley-colored glasses. What Product Managers in Menlo Park think is good. With AI anyone can be a creator. An explosion of creative experiences is coming. An internet through you-colored glasses is coming.
One that knows the pieces you choose to share … if the context is right. If we LOVE the experience. If it were fast. If we had control. Might delete later. If it were safe.
But today we’re left with Surveillance Capitalism. Scrape The Entire Internet. We get subscribed to toilet seats and songs we binged.
Personalization as we know it today boxes us in. It can be icky and reductive. When we use the internet we don’t know how our data is being used (shared? scraped? leaked?).
We’re building Crosshatch to fix this.
We want Tony Stark’s Jarvis available on every surface. We want control. We want an internet made for us / rolls out the red carpet for us. Created by everyone. Knows us in context. Operates in confidence. Respects our choices. No more ‘users like you like’. Me –– look at me –– who I am, what I choose to share with you here, in this moment – what I want. Me.
We’re building Crosshatch to safely hyper-personalize the internet.
Nobody can tell you
There's only one song worth singing
They may try and sell you
Cause it hangs them up
To see someone like you
make your own kind of music