Hailstorm and the Trust Issue
Hailstorm seems to me to be a shot at gaining control of the centralized
data store of all personal data world wide. This is an objective that would
put The Vendor in a dominant position for world wide financial transactions,
and thus in the roll of middle-man - a necessarily lucrative place to be.
There is also the inevitability of them using Hailstorm for massive customer
tracking which can also be used for marketing purposes, and provide an additional
revenue stream in sales of the data itself (I do not see The Vendor having
the self discipline to resist such a lucrative use of the data they would
The goal of centralized user data may be ineherently flawed, however. I
would think that people would prefer to store that sensitive data locally,
not centrally. If the Hailstorm project simply referred to a local database
on the client instead of a central database on a server and then transmitted
the relevant data to the requestor (provided the user had enabled them to
read their private data) then the system would have inherent trust mechanisms.
This would work. It would however deprive The Vendor of marketing oportunities
and therefore will most likely be viewed as unacceptable.
However, The Vendor should be aware that a short term monetary gain could
poison the well and erode trust in Internet Transactions if their model
(Hailstorm) is abused, or suffered from security breaches. Localized personal
data would stand a much better chance of being protected by if nothing else
(like PC Firewall) obscurity. On the other hand, centralized data has other
advantages to the user community, such as the ability to schedule with others
if calendars are on line. There could easily be devised a division of Personal
from Private data (credit cards would be private, for instance, but when
you're on vacation could be public, if you wanted).
Hailstorm in it's current form appears to be risk inherent for the user.
The internet itself is risk inherent for the user. But the question will
be, Does the convenience it offers out weigh the risk? I would suggest
that Microsoft is betting the answer is yes. The only problem is that on
the day the answer becomes NO, the well will have already been poisoned for
other more rational attempts at the same idea, which seems like a fairly
common phenomenon in the industry today. One company grabs onto an idea
that makes sense, does a crap-ware rush job at implementing it FIRST, ruins
the concept in the minds of users, runs off with the money and leaves the
internet even more enfeabled than before. This process done over and over
again may lead to an erosion of confidence in high technology and the internet
generally. In my opinion we are seeing this happenning on a daily basis.
Hailstorm, in the end (2 years) may well prove to have contributed to the
process, thereby helping to suffocate itself (and everything around it).
Doesn't have to be this way, but to avoid it would require sensible people
doing the planning in a coordinated and coherent fashion, something that
RAD programming has apparently put out of fashion, so I personally expect
plenty more of the same until scientists reassert control over the advancement
of technology, and businesses are once again put in the back seat where they
belong. I note that within a few years of businesses wrestling control of
the development of advanced technology from the scientists the entire infrastructure
exploded incoherently (on the capitalist assumption that money motivation
will result in coherent systems), and then subsequently imploded. This boom/bust
cycle is inevitable unless the industry slows down and does proper work on
the design and planning level. Not likely, but I thought I'd mention it.
Currently, due to these forces at work, the internet has become a library
of 550 billion web pages with no card catalog file. Just "come on in and
throw all your books in the middle!", which worked so-so at the beginning,
but now has quickly become an indeciferable chaos. Of course. I had predicted
this outcome in 1995, and so far as I see things, I was right on target.
I flatter myself to think I still am.
Perhaps a central, non profit institution should be set up to provide server
services for a Hailstorm type initiative. Rules against allowing the data
to EVER be used in undisclosed ways, and a focus on security would give the
public a point of trust to hook on to. In this way the Hailstorm concept
might live, but without the liabilities that Microsoft would inevitably introduce
doing it themselves.
Also, to those interested but not entirely informed: .Net is an architecture.
Hailstorm is an implementation of that architecture. These are two separate
things. Haistorm can suck, while .Net can be fantastic.
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