The Doc calls for us to ‘heal thyself’

I’ve been a fan of Doc Searls for quite some time, peaking around the time ‘IT Conversations’ has a regular spot for him and his cohorts. I’ve always found his thinking to be challenging to the norms, yet open in respect to the way “things should be(tm)”. It was no suprise then that this article by the brain behind the keyboard resonated with me.

I, along with what I imagine to be the vast majority of users on the internet, am one of those types that, once a base level of trust is established, will happily click the ‘agree’ button to accept terms. This is especially so in the social networking space as, not only do I assume that the provider has given the thumbs up to the application provider, but my friends have too – given that it’s usually through their participation that I will (need to) accept the new functionality that application X provides. Yes, it’s naiive but it’s user behaviour and the point that Doc Searls makes about changing the way that our online relationships are provided with these social hubs is a powerful one. We tend to have 2 choices with agreements, either accept the terms of the provider, or miss out on the ability to interact with our social web. Making the agreements symetrical rather than asymetrical seems to me to be a good start – of course, the difficulty for the provider then becomes managing the specifics of the symetrical relationship as Digital Natives tend to not care as much as we Digital Immigrants might about our details.

I see this being resolved by a system where a user indicates the useage and control they are willing to exchange, this would allow for a finite number of variations and, based on that, relevant applications may then be offered. How would you structure this agreement?