When we started drafting the Respectful Tech Specification a couple of years ago, it was immediately obvious that we didn’t have an adequate vocabulary to describe personal experiences in the digital world—never mind measure them.
Prior to even the formation of the Me2B Alliance, one of the first things I did was examine all of the interpersonal relationship categories we have in our lives to see if there was a generic term to describe the customer/purveyor relationship, because this relationship is at the heart of many of our digital interactions. After much exploration, I came up dry on a simple, pre-existing term to describe this kind of relationship. And it baffled me, since in our very capitalistic culture in the US, we have literally scores of these kinds of relationships in our everyday lives. How is it that we don’t have a category or class name for it?
My early presentations describing this relationship had over 100 slides. I remember spinning through an early version at the IIW (Internet Identity Workshop), posing this question: what do we call these customer/purveyor relationships? Doc Searls serenely offered, “why not Me2B Relationships?” And thus, a term was born.
Words matter. If we don’t have words to describe it, we can’t possibly understand it. And we certainly can’t measure it.
Me2B refers to a class of relationships between customers (Me-s) and purveyors (B-s) of virtually any sort, in both the physical and the digital world. This concept was the starting point for a new set of terms that enabled us to be more specific about human interactions in the digital world. These included:
- Me2B Deals,
- Me2B Relationship Life Cycle
- Me2B Marriage,
- Me2B Commitments,
- Me2P Relationships, (where P = product)
- Me2T Relationships, (where T = technology enabler)
- B2B Hidden Affiliates.
Once we recognize that we are in fact in a two-way relationship with purveyors of things and services — not unlike other inter-personal relationships we have in our lives — we can better see the full tapestry of analogs. We can, for instance, see clearly that data is not the new oil, and that it’s harmful to think of it like that. Data isn’t fungible, it is not a commodity, nor labor, nor [strictly speaking] is it property. Data is about us – it is, simply, our very lives. Our data is us.
It is more appropriate to think of data like blood, or better yet, DNA—it is that sensitive and uniquely identifying. We shed data like microscopic flecks of skin as we go about living our lives. We don’t expect someone to be gathering our hair and skin debris as we wander about, and similarly, we don’t want people gathering our digital “DNA” detritus on the internet. It’s just not ok.
The Me2B Alliance has recently published a number of short tutorials (Flash Guides) in a “Me2B101 Series” that describes the concepts underpinning of our mission and approach, and tells the story of our journey from ethical principles to metrics and measurement. We hope that you find these illuminating and helpful.