Friday Five: data rights and defining disruption

Every week Zone handpicks and shares the five best stories on new digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. Revising our rights for the digital age

According to a United Nations declaration, we all have 30 basic human rights. These include things we may take for granted like freedom of thought and the right to a fair trial, but they don’t go far enough for, which is looking to get data ownership added to the list with its new app, #My31.

Through the clever use of blockchain, the app gives users legal control of their medical data, allowing them to set terms of sharing, under what conditions it can be used and even organise remuneration. The benefits go both ways, as full opt-in and permissions mean that companies get higher quality data and have a better relationship with the source (read: us).

2. Skype rolls back its redesign

Skype wasn’t the first app to imitate aspects of Snapchat, and it certainly won’t be the last. The difference here though, is the announcement in a blog post that the voice and video call service has decided to can the changes after finding they ‘didn’t resonate with a majority of users’.

It’s reminiscent of when Snapchat itself made a sharp U-turn on a recent redesign and sheds an interesting light on what it means to make ‘innovative’ choices without taking contextual consumer needs into account. The post offers an informative view into a process that we can all learn from, with Skype launching a site that allows users to vote on future changes off the back of this experience.

3. Delving into disruption

Benedict Evans is great. What he does so well is take a topic that everyone is talking about and really put it under the microscope. It’s less an article and more an in-depth examination. The subject of his latest missive: what does disruption really mean?

Using electric car company Tesla as a case study, he explores the difference between innovation and disruption, and asks the question: is it actually disruptive if existing players can absorb these new ideas and learn from them? Given that the term ‘disruption’ is bandied about the digital world with reckless abandon, this thought-provoking piece makes for an interesting read.

4. Digging for datasets no longer a drag

After having all but conquered the commercial web, de facto king of search Google has set its sights on unifying and simplifying the notoriously convoluted process of searching for datasets with a brand new, sparkly search engine called — yep, you guessed it — Dataset Search.

Aimed at journalists, researchers and scientists, Dataset Search scours government databases, public sources, digital libraries and personal websites to return results relevant to users’ queries. The search engine will initially focus on government data and environmental and social sciences, but you can bet that this will soon expand should it prove a hit.

5. Facebook users vote with their feet

In the digital age hashtags can wield huge amounts of power — just look at the phenomenal cultural impact of movements such as Black Lives Matter and Me Too. And, in the wake of multiple data breaches and questionable ethics, it seems that a hell of a lot of people did actually #DeleteFacebook.

Findings of a study published this week show that nearly three quarters of Americans questioned tightened their security settings on the site, while a full 24% of respondents went as far as deleting their profiles completely, rising to 44% in the 18–29 age bracket. Not only does this illustrate the influence hashtags can exert, but it also shows that people aren’t prepared to tolerate shady data dealings any more.

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