Web 2.0, Data Mining, and Privacy

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I’ve been looking into Web 2.0 business models lately.  One set of those business models is for a company to grock data from databases or users — and then to aggregate the data into new reports or views that aren’t available elsewhere.  They range from useful to scary and here are a few interesting ones…

Zillow.com is a wonderful site to find home prices.  Their data tends to be accurate to within 10% when compared to new sales prices.

http://www.zillow.com/

The OfficeBallot web site works by voting on your managers and peers.

http://www.officeballot.com/

JigSaw.com is a place where you can buy people’s personal information.  Do you want a CEO’s home phone number?  Or their cell phone number?  Just pay between $1.00 and $0.60 to buy their personal information.  If you add someone’s contact information to their database, they will pay you up to $1.00.  The entire idea can have scary privacy implications.  It’s one thing for you to publish your information on your blog or social networking site, but other people to selling your information is a different matter.

The way they have designed it is an economically balanced model.  You will earn $1.00 by adding a contact into their database — if the information turns out to be correct.  Their system appears to work by financially rewarding their customers who indicate and correct any incorrect/out-of-date information.  Their business model works by having their database of personal information created and updated by their customers, and they earn money along the way.  They use a point system and earn money on the spread — points are sold for $0.10 and bought for $0.20 to $0.12.

http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/03/23/jigsaw-is-a-really-really-bad-idea/

I just found ZabaSearch.com and it’s pretty scare from a privacy point of view.  Most people in the US will find their address and phone numbers in this database.

http://www.zabasearch.com/

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