How To Open Source Your Life

In today’s tech and startup community, transparency has become a bit of a buzz-theme. VCs want to be Upfront, startups want to be transparent, and open source is no longer synonymous with lower quality. This got me thinking, what would it mean to open source your life? To allow complete transparency in to your very being, and if it’s possible, how can technology achieve this? This isn’t to say that I would want to partake in this, but the idea and attention it would garner is intriguing  While not all of this is possible, lets say michaeldempsey.me was actually a page where you could see everything about me. Below is what and how I would be generating all of that data.

I chose to break it in to 3 sections: Who you are, what you do, and how you do it with the basic issues indented after each section. (note: all services are off the top of my head, there are probably many other substitutes):

Who You Are

Interests/Personal Life: Use Foundd to rate movies/TV Shows. Last.fmEx.fm, and/or Spotify takes care of your music listening and tracking. List your general interests on your Facebook profile. Blog daily about your life, your friends, your struggles, your triumphs, and anything else. If you use a dating service like OKCupid, cross-link between your main site and your profiles.

People discover you have horrible taste in music, friends and employers hate you because your inner-most thoughts are revealed, people realize who you really are on dating sites.

Health: Everybody already wants to track their fitness with tools like RunkeeperFitbitJawbone Up, etc. so lets just publicly share all of that data online. People can see where you’re running, how far, how fast, how many calories you’ve burned, what food you’ve eaten to offset those calories, and when you’ve gone to the gym via foursquare. Then use a Withings scale or blood pressure monitor to tweet out your weight or other data (shout out to @dens for giving me this idea). Now lets track medical health. Using a sort-of personal EMR system (maybe hacked together via Dropbox?) you could theoretically have a sortable folder of your latest check up documents, any x-rays/scans you’ve had, and your general medical history all online, open to view. Next, include your health bills to allow data points for others, to make a statement against a broken healthcare system in your home country (or for a great one!), or just to track your medical spending over time. That data would be invaluable, and I know of one startup (though there are probably others) called Castlight that is working on this problem.

Fitness goals should be fine, but your medical history is a very private thing. There are a slew of stigmas attached to it that could hurt you socially and maybe even professionally (athletes?).

What You Do

Calendar: For simplicity sake, just make your Google Calendar public, or use a scheduling service like ScheduleOnce so people can request their own meetings around your time.

Not completely safe, people would know your business, confidentiality agreements would be thrown out the window, you could lose your competitive edge quickly if people understand how you work.

Social: Rule #1: No Snapchat. Now, use Foursquare to check in literally everywhere you go and Foodspotting or Instagram to take pictures and catalog anything you digest or see. Tweet out events that you buy tickets for from services like Eventbrite, and generally, pair these things with your calendar to allow transparency as to how closely you follow your calendar. The final trojan horse of this is a tool called Narrative. You’d have a running photo catalog of your day that people could see at all times. Talk about awkward. These also would be a great quantified self tool, as you’d see how often you are on-time for events, and other metrics in relation to your social presence. It’s like Klout for the real world! (just kidding)

Besides the general annoyance, only 100% transparent Narrative with the photos every 30 seconds would be an issue for me. Your most intimate moments would hypothetically be captured if you truly went full-on transparent.

How You Do It

Finances: Open access to your Mint profile, while posting your investment performance and goals on a schedule. Viewing access to your 401k, IRA, bank accounts, bitcoin accounts, anything that has monetary value. You could set all of this up with automated excel exports, and have the file be constantly updating, along with a history (more Dropbox hacking here). Tweet out the moment you are initiating a new position in your portfolio via StockTwits. Be incredibly specific with each Venmo transaction description. Because people can follow your paper-trail, you don’t really need to use many other services.

Social issues based on money you have/don’t have. Regulatory issues if you work in finance or for a public company. Government/legal issues if you don’t file your taxes correctly or if you spend your money on illegal things. The list goes on and on. I don’t know any individual that would do this. Buffer is the closest, as they are very transparent with their business finances, but not to the point of what they spend each dollar on.

Now obviously this all is a bit ridiculous to think about,  but as human beings, we are fascinated with others’ lives (think reality TV) and it’s only a matter of time before somebody attempts this on some scale. There are a lot of interesting platforms that could be built to facilitate this even on a private scale (a one page for all of your data tool).

In the end, a push towards transparency is a good thing, but what will be interesting to see is at what level does this transparency and sharing of our lives stop as we dive deeper into an “always on” and connected world?