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Solid

Like most people who make use of the web, you probably use some free services like Facebook, Twitter, Google Chrome, Outlook, Gmail (the list goes on... basically we're talking about a product or service provided by an oversized tech power that demands your personal data in exchange for whatever they're peddling). Free services appear great on the surface but you are essentially selling your soul to these data tyrants so they can sell on your personal details to the lowest bidder. As the inventor of the web Tim Berners-Lee (TBL) states:

the web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas

It's 2018 and we find ourselves in this dire situation, largely due to greed. It's toxic. Thankfully TBL has been working on a solution, called Solid, that aims to give web users more control over how their data is used and abused:

Solid changes the current model where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value. As we’ve all discovered, this hasn’t been in our best interests. Solid is how we evolve the web in order to restore balance — by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way

The main idea behind Solid is:

It gives every user a choice about where data is stored, which specific people and groups can access select elements, and which apps you use. It allows you, your family and colleagues, to link and share data with anyone. It allows people to look at the same data with different apps at the same time.

So while you may still need to disclose a certain level of personal information to use the services of Facebook for example, at least you will be in control of your own data, not Facebook. You set up a profile (known as a POD) on the Solid platform and then choose what info you want to share. I like it! And like TBL I'm looking forward to welcoming in the next era of the web.

You may have seen this tweet if you follow my personal account:

See how I track how @Forbes sells my information to third parties, like @TrunkClub? pic.twitter.com/nO4zCyBhmD

— Chris Messina (@chrismessina) May 11, 2016

If you use Google's Gmail then you can do the same type of thing using this nifty "+" sign technique. Simply add something extra to your email username to define which service or special offer you're signing up for to find out which websites are selling your email address to marketers. For example, if your normal email address is bigdave@gmail.com and you're signing up for a competition with Little Goliath Ltd you would provide your email address as something like bigdave+little-goliath@gmail.com. Thereafter, any emails arriving in your inbox to that very specific email address indicates who sold your email address to who.

Email Framework is a useful-looking set of HTML templates, aimed at helping you build your own bulletproof, responsive HTML emails. Covers a range of handy areas, like mobile hacks, typography, buttons and images.

Get a deeper insight into your online competitors by following the suggested steps in the article Why you should spy on your online competitors and use that information to improve your own online success. Covering a range of useful angles from first determining who your competitors are, to understanding what makes them successful, what they write about on their blog, what's popular and who links to them.

Use Google+ Hangouts to boost your business

Google+ Hangouts let you do cheap teleconferencing for up to ten people; this includes using live video as part of a demonstration. Hosting a Hangout on a subject relevant to your business is a great way to:

  • Demonstrate a new service or product
  • Get feedback from your customers
  • Increase brand recognition
  • Build a stronger following
  • Enhance your position as a leader in your field

All Hangout conversations are saved for future reference, letting you revisit shared ideas and images.

For more information read How to Build Your Brand with Google+ Hangouts On Air.

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