Connect don’t collect (again)

Gavin Starks
2 min readMar 9, 2022


Is connect don’t collect the foundation of your data strategy?

The data gap is leadership.

Building on my previous post, I am finding myself referring to this more and more, and it’s starting to land as an idea.

Referring back to the Bezos’-level mandate that I think is now needed. To recap, this was allegedly the internal memo Bezos sent in 2002—yes, twenty years ago. At the time it simply expressed what many of us took as self-evident about the architecture of the web.

1. All teams will henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces.
2. Teams must communicate with each other through these interfaces.
3. There will be no other form of interprocess communication allowed: no direct linking, no direct reads of another team’s data store, no shared-memory model, no back-doors whatsoever. The only communication allowed is via service interface calls over the network.
4. It doesn’t matter what technology they use. HTTP, Corba, Pubsub, custom protocols — doesn’t matter.
5. All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable. That is to say, the team must plan and design to be able to expose the interface to developers in the outside world. No exceptions.
6. Anyone who doesn’t do this will be fired.
7. Thank you; have a nice day!

It took over 10 years before these principles were codified in a policy instrument (Open Banking) to address the legal and regulatory interfaces, not ‘just the tech’ but the rules.

So, if you’re thinking “we need to get our own house in order first” the response is no, you need to get on with connecting to external systems in a systemic way. As the adage goes

the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”

So yes, go build your data lake, digital twin, AI, blockchain, thing—we all know you want to—but do it after you’ve deployed your connect strategy. It’ll be at least 10x cheaper if you do it this way around, and opens up space for innovation.

To paraphrase Bezos’ seven points

  1. Everything you build and use must have an externalisable interface (e.g. API).
  2. Or you will be fired.
  3. There is no point three.

“Today is the simplest things are going to get”, Martha Lane-Fox

Trusted connections are what we’re enabling at Icebreaker One, to build a web of net-zero data.