Losing Control Over Our Digital Self When So Many Domains Take A Piece

I find myself even more aware of the demands being placed on our lives through Internet-enabled technology after spending two months in the wilderness, away from my computer and cell phone. As I fire up my tools for monitoring the API space, the assault on our digital self by the tech community streams by on the scream like a scene from the Matrix movie.

One of the tools I operate regularly is called Charles Proxy. I use it to automatically map out the APIs I am using, helping me map out the surface area of common APIs. On select days I will keep this running in the background, routing all my mobile, web, and desktop activity through the proxy. Every five minutes it dumps an XML file of my activity to my local Dropbox folder. Once files are synced to the cloud my API monitoring system grabs this history and generates OpenAPI specification for any APIs, with one by-product of all of this is I also get a record every single domain I touched over the course of the day.

I pulled a sampling of this traffic, grouped by each unique domain, and generated this tag cloud. There are 306 domains included in this sampling, with a maximum of 250 showing in the tag cloud, but the domains that float to the top, achieving a significant portion of my attention, tell an interesting story--there is a lot to consider here, but three significant stories stand out for me.

Who Gets Most My Attention On Regular Basis
This is all traffic from the websites I visit, as well as my desktop and mobile applications, so you see the core of my existence spent on my Apple devices, and that I still live in a very Googley world, while doing much of my communication via on Twitter, Slack, and Skype. I do a lot of Googling, as the majority of my days are spent researching a variety of topics, and since I opt to leave advertising unblocked, you also see the fingerprint of Double Click when it comes to ad networks also attempting to get my attention.

Percentage Of My Attention Spent Within My Domains
While Google and Apple still command a big portion my attention, it makes me happy to see both apievangelist.com and kinlane.com present in this tag cloud--showing a healthy "reclaim your domain" balance to my world. It is important to me that as much of my time as possible is spent operating within my domain. I will never be able to operate 100% on my own property, but ensuring that my domains occupy top ten slots on this map is critical to me operating a successful business, generating revenue from my hard work, and fending off all of these domains looking to own a piece of my digital self for their benefit.

Overall Volume Of Domains Vying For My Attention
This is just a sampling of the domains that are vying for my attention on a daily basis. At some point, I'll publish a more realistic daily, weekly, and monthly sampling hopefully helping paint a more complete picture. However, I feel this sampling does show the scope of assault that occurs daily on our digital self. All of these companies want a piece of my digital self, not because they care about me, or what I am doing, but because they want to generate revenue from this little piece of my digital self, and any activity that occurs.

A significant portion of what I do each day is dedicated to making sure that I clearly define who is Kin Lane, and the API Evangelist, and capture as much of exhaust generated in the form of blog posts, tweets, images, video, and other bits and bytes. This is how I define my brand, publicize my work, and retain as much control over what I do as I possibly can. Helping me better make a living from my work. The more I define and defend myself from these domains, the more I keep for myself, enabling me to maintain control over the digital version of myself.

We only have a few hundred years under our belts when it comes to defining our physical self, our rights, and the boundaries of our public personas. We only have a few years under our belts when it comes to defining our virtual self, our rights, and the boundaries of our virtual public personas. What is even scarier is that increasingly the predatory behavior of these domains in an online world is being extended into our physical worlds through home automation, connected cars and cities, drones and other ways the Internet of Things (IoT) that are penetrating our personal, professional, and industrial worlds.

As I look at the logs of these domains who are demanding a piece of my virtual self each day, I can't help but feel like the majority of us will lose control over our digital self, before we ever fully get the opportunity to fully know ourself--when so many domains take a piece of us each day.