Over the last few weeks excitement has been mounting over the DataPortability movement, which has a mission of giving users control over their data. It brings together a range of existing initiatives, including APML, OpenID, RSS, and others to enable personal data to be shared between applications and vendors. The initiative is spearheaded by Chris Saad, with a broad global team involved, and rapidly growing membership of the group.
The latest hot news is that Microsoft is joining the DataPortability group. Other recent new participants include Facebook, LinkedIn and Flickr. Many of the big names in technology and other key social networking sites are believed to be on the verge of announcing their participation. Critical mass is essential for this kind of initiative; it now seems to have reached the point at which this is likely to become a true industry-wide initiative. The media attention DataPortability is getting, including from mainstream press such as the Financial Times, shows this is not just a geek thing.
Last year I wrote many times and about the trend to openness on the web, and the reinvigoration of the concept of infomediaries. Several commentators have suggested that DataPortability is one of the most important initiatives on the web for 2008. The issue is absolutely a defining one for where the information economy goes, and the momentum on the initiative just in the first month of the year suggests that the group will bring together the energy the community has in making data portable.
If we look at the really big picture of the Internet, a large part of what is holding back value to users is how applications are fragmenting people’s data and attention. Having true data portability would make the Net far easier to use and far more valuable to people. Just the last year or two has convinced me that people believe they should control their own data. The Net is inevitably going to follow those desires. It’s looking like DataPortability is going to be a central mechanism in this transformative shift in the online world.
Michael Pick has created a neat 2 minute video explaining the key concepts of DataPortability – see below.