Datavenu enlightens Minnesota

by Guest

By Andrew Korf

datavenuDatavenu is billed as a two day conference “focused on leading speakers, IT developments, data policy, and opportunities in personal data as an emerging economic asset,” being held at the
University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management throughout today and tomorrow.

Organized by Barbara Bowen, the gathering is a first of its kind to hit Minnesota, and arrives at a relevant time considering the broader implications of what data ownership, identity, privacy, and the social web means for the technology ecosystem (near and far) going forward.

Participants came in with a loose understanding of what the problem DataVenu and its presenters aimed to explore, but the first half of the conference offered a wide variety qualified viewpoints from the speakers and panelists — well represented by local startups Workface (Lief Larson), AsystMe (Joel Nash) and Miinome (Paul Saarinen).

Doc Searls DatavenuAuthor, speaker, and visionary Doc Searls (Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University) shared the Project VRM vision, which centers on the idea of giving customers the point of control when dealing with vendors or businesses through the use of their own personal data.

The project, and his position on the movement at large, is fundamentally tied to theses outlined in The Cluetrain Manifesto and later expanded on with The Intention Economy.

Kaliya Hamlin DatavenuFollowing Searles was Kaliya Hamlin (Internet Identity Workshop & Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium), who dug deep into the idea of what identity means especially in the online context and how personal data sharing needs to be first clearly understood, then managed both at personal and societal level to both protect
and empower individuals as well as create new opportunity for new businesses. Hamlin is currently recruiting startups

To wrap up the first day, Phil Windley of Kinetyx offered his compelling view of the coming “Live Web” and how he sees the web evolving to enable real time interactions between people, businesses, places, and things through the evolution of communications and development of own able and controllable ‘personal clouds.’

The collective takeaway is that there are many different points of view stemming from various interested parties (individuals, groups, companies and governments) working on various facets of personal data, identity ownership and management, but no defined understanding of scope (or demand) of the problem — let alone a clear solution.

Suffice to say that day one of Datavenu left much the audience asking big questions — a surefire sign of thought provoking information delivered by smart people.  If you’re one of those who’s always trying to figure out what lies a few steps ahead in search of white spaces, check out the day 2 unconference tomorrow.

Andrew Korf is a Senior User Experience Designer at W3i. He has an extensive background in User Experience Design, Design Research, and digital product development.


  • Lief Larson

    I really enjoyed this event and was excited to have such great names (and thought leadership) coming to Minnesota.  Barbara Bowen, Graeme Thickins, et al did a great job pulling this together.