My Data Portability Standard is Better than Yours

Rafe Needleman, editor of Webware, a site dedicated to Web 2.0 applications, and a part of the CNet empire, has an interesting and timely post about the mess currently being made that’s known as data portability, especially as it relates to social networks. The need is certainly there. None of us likes belonging to many of them, and inevitably, entering the same information multiple times.

Needleman hit the nail on the head. He reports:

Within a matter of days, some of the biggest names on the Web announced new projects that all have a roughly similar aim of making it possible for Web users to have a single social-media identity across the Internet–“data portability,” as the general term has come to be known. was first out of the gate with the announcement of Data Availability, a way for members of the News Corp.-owned social network to share their profile data with partner sites including eBay, Yahoo, and Twitter. The next day, Facebook launched Facebook Connect, an extension of its developer API so that third-party sites can incorporate Facebook authentication and user identities.

The Google-created Friend Connect, announced Monday, is a little bit different. With its goal of bringing the connectivity of the social Web to its less social online brethren, the project takes a cue from two much lower-profile social-networking strategies: MyBlogLog, a Yahoo-acquired widget manufacturer that lets readers of popular blogs socialize with one another; and Flux, launched by Viacom to provide interoperable social features to its own Web sites but open to other participants as well”.

The Data Portability Workgroup, a consortium of techies working toward the common goal of translating identities from one social site to another, says this about data portability and the group’s mission:

Mission: To Consult, Design, Educate and Advocate Interoperable Data Portability to Users, Developers and Vendors.
Definition: Data Portability is the option to use your personal data between trusted applications and vendors.

This is a worthy mission and a clear definition. Here’s the rub: Any time you propose to set standards, all the big boys line up to say that they are in favor. Standards are good, like motherhood and apple pie. In fact, generous souls that they are, they’ll take their internal standard, and “donate” it to the group, so everyone can adopt it. Of course, when MySpace, Facebook, and Google all want to have a unified standard [theirs],

Rafe says it well: ”

One thing to keep in mind is that there’s still time for all three of these projects to change and evolve before any Web users actually see them in action. Facebook is not yet at the point of releasing the technicalities of Facebook Connect other than the fact that it’s an evolution of its existing API; MySpace’s Data Availability is rolling out slowly with only a few launch partners. A general launch of Friend Connect, Google director of engineering David Glazer said, will take ‘months.’

In the meantime, expect plenty of speculation, plenty of criticism of ‘walled gardens,’and at least one claim that data portability is dead in the water before it’s even taken off. This is tech blogging we’re talking about–would you expect anything less?”

As I dinosaur who has seen nearly 40 years of arguments over standards, I would hold your breath for an immediate resolution to this problem, but hey, at least they are talking.

One Response

  1. […] GoogleGazer wrote an interesting post today on My Data Portability Standard is Better than YoursHere’s a quick excerptStandards are good, like motherhood and apple pie…. […]

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