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Podcast: Nora Young talks about her book The Virtual Self and how our digital lives can reground us in the physical realm.

UPDATE: After much hullabaloo, Facebook filed its paperwork for an initial public offering, the week of its eighth birthday. The company will begin trading late May 2012. Read more at Mashable. They also have a nice video to explain what this all means, in particular the increase of mobile-Facebooking.

I went back to Nora Young to ask her thoughts. What does this mean in terms of data? OUR data? Here they be:

At the most basic level, Facebook's IPO is a good example of the fact that our data has value. In fact, it's interesting just to consider for a moment that the stock price is — and will be — driven by the loyalty of users and the data they choose to contribute, more than the platform itself, which in the absence of user data really has little intrinsic value.

Does that data have as much value as today's trading suggests, though? In advance of the IPO, I found it interesting to read speculation on what FB might need to do in order to generate the revenue that "Wall Street" might expect. See for instance, this New York Times article. It points out another feature of these platforms: that exactly what use will be made of our data, is something of a moving target. We are really at a fluid period in thinking about what value personal data actually has.

At more of a cultural level, the borderline hysterical coverage leading up to FB's IPO suggests that we are really drunk on data. It's a story with an odd sex appeal to it, since as users we are in some sense 'involved' in the …

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