The Anti-Google: Part I

Past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior. History repeats itself. History rhymes. You may have encountered these ideas before.

Advertising networks track your search terms and browsing behavior to predict what you want to buy so they can target ads directly at you. As flawed as this kind of targeting still is, the concept works well enough that Google alone took in $59 billion in 2014. That's a pretty big deal. Google and the rest of the ad networks intend to do even better this year so they'll continue to improve the scope and quality of their information about you and your behavior, interests, and intent.

Clearly, connecting past behavior to future behavior is a lucrative effort.

I propose that there is a way to dramatically improve the quality of the past-to-future connection and address a wide range of problems at the same time. Better predictions demand better information. Why not go straight to the source of the best information and work from there?

Ad networks tend to sneak their information out the back door. Some offer you web apps to work in, communicate through, or search with. Some offer phones, browsers, video streaming, TV boxes, and gigabit internet. Always more in the pipeline, often free or low cost. Google does all of these things while Facebook is just getting started. The point of all these products is to reach into your life and pull out as much information as posssible. Constantly. The products are improved and integrated so you'll use them more often, for more intimate purposes, and prefer them over alternatives. Their goal is to put ads in front of you that, just once, you don't ignore.

All of that nonsense can be bypassed completely. No more massive infrastructure for pilfering mid-quality information for the sake of low-probability ads. Instead, deal only in the highest quality information, the kind ad networks dream of. But it's not for them to exploit. It's for you. And it's private.

Let that sink in.

I'm proposing a way for you to accumulate high quality information about your own behavior, under your control, for your benefit. In this situation, behavior prediction becomes just one of the sources of value, yet it remains as desireable as ever. Ad networks extract that value by using vast infrastructure and complex software to connect sellers with buyers, taking a cut one way or another.

Instead, imagine pulling specific interests or intentions from your private real-time information stash, putting a price on them, and releasing them into a legitimate information marketplace. Or sharing with a service that makes high-probability connections between buyers and sellers, turning the ad network model inside out. Imagine sharing some of this personal information with your family, friends, or neighbors to open up a host of new social-networking possibilities.

That strikes me as a pretty big deal.

This approach I'm introducing arises from a long period of blue-sky thinking and prototyping so it's going to seem weird at first. Maybe even simplistic and silly. It's a design that pulls together and aligns many ideas across a wide range of disciplines.

The result is usable by anyone whether young, old, experienced, tech-savvy, or the opposite. It applies just as well across any language, culture, or world-view. It can be introduced at any point in one's life, for any purpose, and for any length of time. And it is capable of fully standalone operation, not needing to ever connect to the Internet. It's yours. You can trust it. You get as much privacy as you want along with a good reason to want it.

This adds up to an anti-Google, an anti-Facebook, even an anti-Microsoft. It does what they don't do, offers what they don't, and cuts out all of their crap.

I've named the project Benome.

Continued in Part 2.