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Data Goes In but Does Not Come Out

I stumbled across an article this morning titled, “Social networks may find it does not pay to be too possessive”. The first paragraph states one of my many frustrations with websites such as FaceBook

“It is a frustrating fact of modern internet life. Users of websites such as Facebook and Google spend hours building up and maintaining friend lists and e-mail address books, but when it comes time to move such social information to another online service they frequently find it impossible to get their data back out. Instead, they must start re-entering their personal details from scratch.”

Most of us have hundreds of contacts that we’ve accumulated over time and always find ourselves having to re-enter each contact one-by-one on every new website that we join. Very frustrating, time consuming, and just a plain nightmare at times.

Well, that may soon change.

“Over the past year, growing numbers of influential voices have been calling for the creation of common standards for “data portability” – a move that would enable widespread sharing of social information between websites.

Advocates of portable data argue that such an open approach would not just make life easier for users who want to migrate between websites; it could change the very economics of the web itself as companies rush to build new services that take advantage of the free flow of social information.

Some believe the advent of truly portable social data could usher in new web services that far exceed the capabilities of existing “Web 2.0” sites. “We are on the cusp of the next phase of the web,” says John McCrea, chief marketing officer at Plaxo. “We think we are about to see a major transformation, as things that have been powered inside ‘walled garden’ social networks become part of the open web.”

Excitement among industry-watchers is palpable. “This is the trend of 2008,” says Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst at Forrester Research.

Read more about this here.

2 Responses

  1. This would be great, however, what incentive is there for any company to be so open with data? Proprietary hardware, and software is great way to ensure that users stay loyal… Microsoft is a great example of this closed business model.

  2. data portability is nothing new, it’s a new name for same old dance formerly known as avoiding vendor lock-in.

    while data portability in itself is very useful, but there’s a second aspect missing here when considering the data we want to be ported; our PERSONAL data. PERSONAL data that can be ported around need to be encrypted, not a gunshot encryption, bam you get everything, no there needs to be varies levels of access to the data, which locked with a different key. This way you can share your personal data freely but only those with certain keys can access certain pieces of data, and most of it is completely anonymous; that is it cannot be linked back to you as an individual.

    Here’s an example:

    I believe in the right to vote anonymously. That is, I should be able to cast my vote for the candidate of my choice without anyone knowing who I am. After my vote is cast, I should be able to check yes indeed my vote was cast, and that it was counted and most importantly counted for my person of choice! On the flip side, the government knows and can verify: yes this came from one of our citizens and no they don’t know who it is, but the identity is registered (public/private keys and a whole lot of secret handshakes).

    BACK TO PERSONAL data, something that is often mislabeled as being social to make it easier to digest that you are freely giving away details about yourself. aka it’s chic, it’s cool to be so social, get your friends online, send them pokes or peeks or whatever it is you do to the ones you know. Share what you like, or don’t, or, how much time is spent doing such or not and worst of it all is that it’s linked to WHO YOU ARE…thus data portability helps avoid vendor lock-in (assuming there is something else that can use your ported data), but worthless when the vendor ported too can exploit you.

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