The terminology of personal clouds is maturing rapidly. On this page we track key terms used within the industry and in the architecture of the Respect Network. Acronyms and technical standards are listed at the end.
Personal Cloud (aka Personal Data Management Service)
A personal cloud is the equivalent of personal computer except operating “in the cloud”, i.e., not on a physical device you carry. What makes a personal cloud personal is that all of the data it stores and applications it runs are under the control of the individual operating it, just as with a personal computer. The “file system” of a personal cloud is a PDS (see below).
For more about personal clouds, see our paper From Personal Computers to Personal Clouds: The Advent of the Cloud OS.
Personal Data Store (aka PDS, Locker, Vault, Safe, Bank, Domain)
Despite the number of synonyms used for it, a PDS is a simple concept: “a place on a network to securely store data under your personal control”. A frequently-used analogy is that “a PDS is like a bank account for data instead of money”. What distinguishes a PDS from the file system on personal computer is that a PDS is assumed to be on a network, i.e., it is a place from which data can be pushed, pulled, and synchronized on behalf of an individual. This means a PDS is typically (though not always) “in the cloud”.
Important: despite the name, some of the data “stored” by a PDS may not physically reside in one location. A PDS may also serve as a “control panel” or “dashboard” for controlling the sharing of data that stored elsewhere on the network, including on physical devices controlled by the individual (e.g., laptop, desktop, tablet, smartphone) or at vendors or service providers used by the individual (e.g., doctor, hospital, bank, insurance company, attorney, etc.) For this reason the acronym “PDS” most accurately maps to “Personal Data Service”.
A personal channel is a general-purpose communications link between a personal cloud and any other cloud (personal cloud, vendor cloud, government cloud, etc.). It is similar to a link on a social network except: 1) it is directly controlled by an individual (i.e., there is no social network in the middle), and 2) it is a fully programmable communications connection rather than just a “social feed”. Because personal channels can automate and control many communications and data sharing tasks that currently require manual processing, they promise to be the “killer app” for personal clouds the same way email was the original killer app for the Internet.
For more about personal channels, see our paper The Personal Channel: The Extraordinary Benefits of Communicating Via Personal Clouds.
Life Management Platform
A personal cloud operating a PDS, personal channels, and various personal cloud applications on behalf of its owner is a Life Management Platform. The term, coined by Martin Kuppinger of Kuppinger Cole, is particularly appropriate because the benefits of a Life Management Platform are most apparent when a “life event” occurs, i.e., a personal graduates from school, moves house, gets married, has a child, changes jobs, etc. These events all involve coordination between multiple parties (people and vendors) that can be dramatically simplified using an interoperable Life Management Platform.
A trust framework is legal framework under which the members of a community agree to operate by a set of policies (“rules”) and technical standards (“tools”) in order to achieve trust. The term has especially been applied to the agreements necessary to form digital trust networks. Open Identity Exchange (OIX) is an international non-profit organized to foster the development and listing of digital trust frameworks. The Respect Trust Framework, listed with OIX, is the digital trust framework under which the Respect Network operates.
On a data sharing network such as the Respect Network, a link contract is a machine-readable (and human-readable) agreement about the rights one member grants another to access and use personal data. The term originated with the XDI semantic data interchange protocol (see below), where a link contract is implemented as a graph that binds a set of data with a set of permissions and the set of identities to whom those permissions are granted.
VRM (Vendor Relationship Management)
VRM is the “inverse of CRM” (Customer Relationship Management), i.e., the idea that a customer can have his/her own tools for managing vendor relationships the same way vendors have their CRM tools. Work on VRM has been led Respect Network Architect Doc Searls, founder of ProjectVRM at the Harvard Berkman Institute. Effectively implementing VRM at scale requires that customers and vendors be peers on a trust network; this is the goal of the Respect Network. For more details about VRM, see Doc Searls book, The Intention Economy.
VPI (Volunteered Personal Information)
VPI is the ability for customers to share personal data with vendors as easily as vendors can share information with customers. The potential for VPI to inform and transform business has been extensively analyzed by Respect Network Consulting Partner Ctrl-Shift. VPI can be realized on a VRM network such as the Respect Network because it provides the necessary technical capabilities, trust policies, and business incentives.
Cloud OS (Cloud Operating System)
Just as personal computers required operating systems (e.g., Windows, Mac, Linux) to manage and coordinate all the necessary computing functions (keyboard, monitor, disk drives, memory printer, networking, etc.), so do personal clouds. Since it operates at a higher layer, a Cloud OS has more emphasis on coordinating events across multiple systems and devices; on managing Internet identity instead of device-specific identity; and on managing data at a semantic data storage layer instead of a physical disk layer.
For more about the role of the Cloud OS, see our paper From Personal Computers to Personal Clouds: The Advent of the Cloud OS.
KRL (Kinetic Rules Language)
KRL is a rules-based programming language (implemented as an Apache PERL module) for event-based programming in the cloud. KRL was originally developed by Phil Windley at Kynetx and is now an open source project.
XDI (Extensible Data Interchange)
XDI is a semantic data interchange format and protocol under development by the XDI Technical Committee at OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards). XDI is based on the same subject/predicate/object graph model as RDF (Resource Description Framework). It adds the ability to model context, which enables addressing, linking, and nesting of RDF graphs. XDI is focused on problems in global data sharing, and includes support for persistent and reassignable identifiers, uniform data versioning, negotiated data synchronization, dictionaries-as-a-service, and portable authorization (see Link Contracts, above).