VRM, Personal Clouds, and Information Architecture

Image of the poster

1The Turning Grille poster presented at IA Summit 2013.

Click here to download a PDF of the “This Guy” Turning Grille poster. #


VRM (Vendor Relationship Management): If CRM (customer relationship management) is about the systems and processes that companies use to market to their customers, VRM is about systems and processes that allow customers to manage their interactions with companies. From the Project VRM wiki: #

VRM tools provide customers with both independence from vendors and better ways of engaging with vendors. The same tools can also support individuals’ relations with schools, churches, government entities and other kinds of organizations. #

In October of 2012, I gave a talk on VRM and Information Management at InfoCamp Seattle. #


These links are primarily curated from a longer list of development projects on the Project VRM wiki. #


These organizations are developing the core ideas behind VRM and personal clouds, and are advocating for their adoption. #

  • ProjectVRM: a research and development project housed at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Founded by Doc Searls in 2006, ProjectVRM is the hub of the vendor relationship management community.
  • Customer Commons: a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring “the balance of power, respect and trust between individuals and organizations that serve them” through education, research, and advocacy.
  • Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium: an industry association for companies that promote personal control over personal data.
  • Respect Network: The Respect Network is at the forefront of architecting the technical, semantic, and legal frameworks for personal clouds. Their Respect Trust Framework is a contract that ensures individual control and protection of personal data.

Standards and Frameworks

Here are a few of the core technologies on which personal clouds are being built. #

  • KRL (Kinetic Rule Language): program Live Web interactions
  • UMA (User Managed Access): user control of data sharing and access between online services
  • XDI: OASIS semantic data interchange “standard for sharing, linking, and synchronizing data over digital networks using structured documents (e.g. JSON and XML) and Extensible Resource Identifiers (XRIs)”

Personal Data Management

These companies are building personal cloud-type services that you can use today. #

Books, Slides, and Videos

Wikis and Mailing Lists

Where does Information Architecture fit in?

For a long time, VRM and personal clouds have been in the incubation phase. Long discussions on the mailing lists have centered around core concepts: identity, trust, semantics, internet marketing practices, and so on. Pioneering work has been done around standards and architecture, and early VRM-based services have been built and are slowly being introduced to consumers. #

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  1. Stuart, great job assembling all the relevant links in one place. I’m really looking forward to a very productive intersection of the IA community and the VRM and personal cloud communities.