“Data” as a mainstream consumer good? 2 approaches.

April 2nd, 2008 by Mimi Yin

Two examples of “data” becoming a mainstream consumer good.

1. Youtube launches video stats

Google Analytics for YoutubeOstensibly, the service is aimed at the “general public” uploading videos.

“Insight gives the creators an inside look into the viewing trends of their videos on YouTube, and helps them to increase views and become more popular,” said YouTube Product Manager Tracy Chan.

But of course, such a tool is useful to advertisers as well.

“Partners can evaluate metrics to better serve and understand their audiences, as well as increase ad revenue. And advertisers can study their metrics and successes to tailor their marketing — both on and off the site — and reach the right viewers.”

2. More exciting is Patients Like Me.com

PLM is a web service that provides treatment data for diseases like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS, collected from individuals.ALSFRS-R Progression of Patients on LithiumFrom the recent NYT Magazine profile:

…PatientsLikeMe seeks to go a mile deeper than health-information sites like WebMD or online support groups like Daily Strength. The members of PatientsLikeMe don’t just share their experiences anecdotally; they quantify them, breaking down their symptoms and treatments into hard data. They note what hurts, where and for how long. They list their drugs and dosages and score how well they alleviate their symptoms. All this gets compiled over time, aggregated and crunched into tidy bar graphs and progress curves by the software behind the site. And it’s all open for comparison and analysis. By telling so much, the members of PatientsLikeMe are creating a rich database of disease treatment and patient experience.

Why is this interesting? Well, instead of establishing a parasitic relationship between the web service and their users where the service more or less “spies” on their users, and then makes money off of the the data they collect by selling it to advertisers, PatientsLikeMe sets up individuals and web services in a symbiotic relationship where the user has a stake in the data because the user is the one that gets value out of the aggregates. This is not only more sustainable from a PR perspective, but also from a data quality perspective. If you’re trying to understand how your personal treatment profile stacks up against others; the more detailed and accurate your information is, the more you get out of the service, the more valuable the service is to you and to others.With Youtube, Google is still playing cat and mouse with their users, hoping they won’t notice or care about the data that’s being collected and sold.  PatientsLikeMe on the other hand, is part of an emerging crop of web services (Freshbooks and Wesabe to name 2 in the finance genre) that build a symbiotic relationship with their users. Of this new breed of data-driven services,  PatientsLikeMe is perhaps the most ground-breaking because the user’s relationship to the service is (for a change) just so obvious:

The community as a whole succeeds or fails on the individual contributions of its members.

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6 Responses to ““Data” as a mainstream consumer good? 2 approaches.”

  1. Tim Horgan says:

    Great synopsis of PatientsLikeMe. The web site URL should be http://www.patientslikeme.com, rather than plm.com (which I *think* is a trucking company)…

  2. Mimi Yin says:

    Good point Tim, thanks. I’ve fixed it, should be good now.

    FWIW, PLM appears to be into ships and planes….and financial services too 😉

  3. […] “Data” as a mainstream consumer good? 2 approaches. The user has a stake in the data because the user is the one that gets value out of the aggregates. (tags: youtube data) […]

  4. […] in point: Back in April, I wrote about the site PatientsLikeMe.com, which provides a wonderful new service that allows individual […]

  5. […] also an area in which the value of sharing information is so obvious, people have been trying new, imaginative things to make that sharing […]

  6. […] Data Project blog posed some interesting questions about data in our communities: Back in April, I wrote about the site PatientsLikeMe.com, which provides a wonderful new service that allows individual […]


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