I Own My Data, Dammit

Micah had a very encouraging article last night about two commenting social networks, Disqus and Intense Debate. It was all about listening to your customer base and making trajectory adjustments as needed to ensure you’re meeting real needs, instead of just assuming your business model has everything mapped out for you and you know exactly how to execute on your vision.

The discussion over Disqus and Intense Debate has been an interesting one. Particularly perceptive readers may have noticed me playing around with both of these services a few weeks ago in the wee hours of the morning. If you didn’t notice, never fear… it was only for a minute before switching back to my default WordPress comments.

So here’s the thing. I met Intense Debate, and perhaps Disqus, at Blog World Expo. At the same time, I met SezWho, a competitor. Each of these services offer a “social network” around commenting. But what set them apart was in who owned the data.

I use the word “own” loosely here. What I mean is, “Where is the comment data being hosted?”

There’s legitimate reasons for this. One example of why it is important for me to own the data is in the case of a legal issue or subpoena. Very relevant concern. At b5, there were several times where the Police called us asking for data about some random person on some random blog who was a person of interest in some random crime. In all cases, we could not give up data without a subpoena. When provided, we cooperated. When we were not served, we didn’t relinquish data.

This is pretty common and the bigger a property (or in b5′s case, group of properties) get, the bigger the target that is on your back.

In the case of Intense Debate and Disqus, none of this data is controlled by me. It’s controlled by them for a variety of reasons. SezWho did not host the comments which was a big selling point for them.

In the case of blogs, there are many things that can be done via mashup that doesn’t place any kind of liability on the site owner or blogger. However, in the context of comments, that is actually content.

In order for me to use Disqus or Intense Debate here – both of which I’m interested in using as it adds some nifty functionality to the blog – I need to host the content and control the styling. Without that, it’s a no-go.

SXSW Day 2 Thoughts

Hey guys-

Fantastic first day at SXSW yesterday. I did no less than 6 interviews in the b5media sponsored Bloghaus. Met with dozens of people. It was literally the best conference day I’ve ever had. This morning, my neck hurts as I spent my second night literally camping under the stars at the “b5 ranch”. Yes there have been parties. Mostly the main ones have been blown off by the b5 crew as we made our own. Yesterday’s impromptu party was spent as well in unison with Weblogs Inc bloggers Christina Warren and Grant Robertson from Download Squad.

Weblogs Inc Crew

SezWho is here. SezWho is a great comment and rating system. The theory is commenting on a blog builds reputation in a particular area. The more reputation you have, the more weight you carry. We’re trying SezWho out at b5. Very, very early in the process on a very, very limited scope. I have a meeting with the CEO shortly. Again, just fantastic people here.

Eddie Vedder, from Pearl Jam of course, has a Texas top-rated gulf coast style seafood restaurant. Absolutely amazing. The food that is not listed on the menu is the best along with the non-menu’d “upgrades” to the steak etc. If you’re in Austin and need a middle-to-upper class quiet venue away from the 6th St bar scene, Eddie V’s is the place to go. Check it.

Krista Playing Joey's Accordion

b5media’s new tagline, by the way: 300+ blogs, 10M pageviews, one accordion. Welcome Joey deVilla to the b5 team. This is 4th day on the job and is experiencing SXSW life for the first time. Everyone loves the accordion!