O’Reilly talks about “Data is the next Intel Inside” (2007, p. 27). As I am new to the game of Information Technology, I first have to work out what he is referring to when he says ‘Intel Inside’, so for those of you, who don’t know, read the next paragraph.
Intel was the leading supplier of microprocessor chips for personal computers but if you were to mention the word ‘microprocessor’ to a consumer in 1991, you would most likely get a mystified stare in return. Intel microprocessors were used exclusively as an input to other manufacturer’s products. The other manufacturer did all the marketing of the end product and created all of the value in the consumer’s eyes (Norris, 1993). Therefore Intel launched an Intel Inside® Program, the first time a PC component manufacturer successfully communicated directly to computer buyers. The Intel brand is one of the top ten known-brands in the world (Intel, 1998) and everyone has heard their 5 note jingle (Wikipedia, 2011).
Basically Intel had the product but had to tell the world about it. When O’Reilly talks about data being the next Intel Inside, he is referring to data being the important component of Web 2.0. If a company has control over a unique source of data that is required for Web 2.0 applications, they should be able to charge large sums of money for the use of that data (O’Reilly & Battelle, 2009).
“Without the data, the tools are useless” (O’Reilly, 2007)
The Web 2.0 application
Spokeo is a people search engine that allows the user to search for anyone via a name, email, phone or username search. Spokeo specializes in aggregating and organizing vast quantities of people-related information from more than 50 public sources including phone books, social networks, marketing lists, online maps, real estate records and others. Therefore, I feel it is the perfect example of a product that is the next ‘Intel Inside’
Search results can include a person’s
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Marital Status
- Wealth Estimate
- Family Tree….
- Profiles on Facebook, MySpace or Twitter
- Profiles on dating websites like Match.com and OKCupid
- Photos on Flickr or PhotoBucket
- Videos from YouTube and Vimeo
- Reviews of products on Amazon or eBay
- Blogs on Blogger and LiveJournal (Spokeo People Search, 2012)
- Even what type of heating and cool a person’s home has……
Spokeo is a single location with a unique collection of data. The information is all publicly available elsewhere but Spokeo utilizes deep web crawlers to aggregate the data. The deep web technology reduces data acquisition costs and allows some information to be viewed by users free of charge (Wikipedia, 2012).
Other similar applications
There are many people search engines available in the United States including Pipl, Wink, Zabasearch, Spock, YoName and PeekYou (SimilarGroup, 2012). These sites are all similar sites to Spokeo using slightly different methods of finding the data required. For example PeekYou uses Spokeo for location data and uses Google Maps whereas Spokeo uses Bing for its maps. PeekYou claims to search New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Canada, India and China but is very USA centric and will locate people in the USA as a fallback search. Spokeo claims their reports merge “real life” data with “social network information” whereas most of the other applications do not merge both sets of data (Spokeo People Search, 2012).
Legal and ethical issues
The question is how accurate is the data? Firstly, Spokeo does not guarantee data accuracy, and its data should only be used as a reference(Spokeo People Search, 2012). Timothy Duffy has compiled some general notes about the accuracy of Spokeo and suggests the basic profile including address and phone number is very accurate, along with the names and ages of household members. The photos are not accurate at all and then around 50 percent of the interests are right (Duffy, 2010). Consideration has to be taken when using this data. It should not be used as a solid reference when investigating a new employee for example. It may be used as a starting point for further research using other people search engines. Even Google should be able to verify the data that Spokeo supplies. Spokeo cannot verify any of the data but are they not under some sort of obligation to supply a certain level of accuracy? Why would anyone actually pay for this inaccurate data?
“Separately, these information nuggets are innocent enough, but together they paint a picture of a person that is more detailed than I personally appreciate. It must be a gold mine for private investigators, stalkers and other unsavoury people (Phil Bradley, 2008).”
Users are very concerned about privacy and their rights to their own data. Luckily, Spokeo allows people to remove their data from their database. There are restrictions on the amount of data that a person can request to be removed each week from the same IP address. Spokeo claims that spammers have removed hundreds of listings at a time and this is a way of stopping it. I personally think they are trying to make it too difficult for people to remove data.
Without a doubt, Spokeo will do everything possible to make the information they provide more precise and more detailed. People are publishing more and more personal data on the internet so it has to be expected that applications will use this data to their best advantage and be the next Intel Inside company.
All I can say is that I am relieved that most of the sites are currently aggregating only the USA for data. I am not looking forward to the day when a Spokeo user can find out how many bedrooms I have. Rather creepy I think!
Duffy, T. J. (2010, March 19th). Spokeo: The Internet White Pages for Stalkers. http://www.techi.com/2010/05/spokeo-the-internet-white-pages-for-stalkers/
Intel. (1998). Intel Inside® Program – Anatomy of a Brand Campaign. News Resources Retrieved March 18th, 2012, from http://www.intel.com/pressroom/intel_inside.htm
Norris, D. G. (1993). “Intel Inside” Branding a Component in a Business Market. [DOI: 10.1108/08858629310027560]. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 8(1), 14-24.
O’Reilly, T. (2007). What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software.
O’Reilly, T., & Battelle, J. (2009). Web squared: Web 2.0 five years on. Web 2.0 Summit.
Phil Bradley. (2008, March 18th). Spokeo, the Big Brother of social networking. http://www.pandia.com/sew/620-spokeo.html
SimilarGroup. (2012). SimilarSites.com. Retrieved March 19th, 2012, from http://www.similarsites.com/
Spokeo People Search. (2012). About Spokeo. Retrieved March 19th, 2012, from http://www.spokeo.com/blog/help/
Wikipedia. (2011, 30 November 2011). Sound Branding. Retrieved March 18th, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_branding
Wikipedia. (2012). Spokeo. Retrieved March 18th, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spokeo