Is Dataportability.org just PR?

Flavio Rump, in this Qik video, asks something very interesting: is the DataPortability.org just PR? He’s been kicked off of several social networks for trying to import JUST NAMES into Facebook. Wants to know if any social network is actually changing its behavior when it comes to sharing data. He hasn’t seen any action yet and, in the video, we talk about a raft of dataportability issues. Interesting hallway conversations from LIFT in Geneva, Switzerland.

Comments

  1. I posted about this on my blog in response to the OpenID announcements yesterday. Basically I agree with Jeremy above in that I think these organizations are just strategy for big companies regardless of what founders want it to be.

    Here’s a cut down version of what I posted (I was talking about OpenID but you can just subsitute Dataportability.org in) …

    (forgive the long comment but I wanted to copy the post here so no one will think I’m trolling for hits)

    This has become a trend now where companies join essentially useless organizations so they can claim to support open standards that they have no intention of actually supporting. First there was DataPortability.org and now we have The OpenID Foundation, both organizations that have no real purpose other than to “discuss” and hence are easy for big companies to use as Public Relations tools.

    This will just become an appointment for some lower level employee. He/She will attend a pointless meeting every month and that will be the extent of it because the real goal is to quiet the community who is clamoring for change not actually make a change.

    Once the noise dies down OpenID can just fall by the wayside and be forgotten.

    The saddest part about all this is that it works. OpenID supporters will pat themselves on the back confident that they’ve beaten the big companies and then go on their way. The big companies will continue to attend meetings that go no where until OpenID has fallen so far behind proprietary technology that its pointless to discuss and then it will be forgotten. Its all just a trick and not even a clever tricky at that.

    Yet people continue to fall for it.

  2. I posted about this on my blog in response to the OpenID announcements yesterday. Basically I agree with Jeremy above in that I think these organizations are just strategy for big companies regardless of what founders want it to be.

    Here’s a cut down version of what I posted (I was talking about OpenID but you can just subsitute Dataportability.org in) …

    (forgive the long comment but I wanted to copy the post here so no one will think I’m trolling for hits)

    This has become a trend now where companies join essentially useless organizations so they can claim to support open standards that they have no intention of actually supporting. First there was DataPortability.org and now we have The OpenID Foundation, both organizations that have no real purpose other than to “discuss” and hence are easy for big companies to use as Public Relations tools.

    This will just become an appointment for some lower level employee. He/She will attend a pointless meeting every month and that will be the extent of it because the real goal is to quiet the community who is clamoring for change not actually make a change.

    Once the noise dies down OpenID can just fall by the wayside and be forgotten.

    The saddest part about all this is that it works. OpenID supporters will pat themselves on the back confident that they’ve beaten the big companies and then go on their way. The big companies will continue to attend meetings that go no where until OpenID has fallen so far behind proprietary technology that its pointless to discuss and then it will be forgotten. Its all just a trick and not even a clever tricky at that.

    Yet people continue to fall for it.

  3. Sorry Tom, but please do some research before you start writing and making false assumptions. The OpenID Foundation was formed in June 2007 while DataPortability.org was founded in November 2007. Also members of the OpenID Foundation were working together long before the Foundation was founded as such.

    The companies that have joined the Foundation as corporate members yesterday provided support long before they have become members. They helped finalizing the Intellectual Property Rights policy which is making sure that one has to fear problems or to pay fees when using OpenID code. They were working in the background rather making announcements.

    And why aren’t those companies supporting OpenID? Yahoo! is a provider, Blogger, a Google property is both a provider and a relying party, VeriSign is a provider, and Microsoft has announced support for OpenID as early as March 2007 and has launched an experimental OpenID server. Though, actually I don’t know what IBM is up to.

    Tom, your comment bears no substance a t all. Sorry to say that.

  4. Sorry Tom, but please do some research before you start writing and making false assumptions. The OpenID Foundation was formed in June 2007 while DataPortability.org was founded in November 2007. Also members of the OpenID Foundation were working together long before the Foundation was founded as such.

    The companies that have joined the Foundation as corporate members yesterday provided support long before they have become members. They helped finalizing the Intellectual Property Rights policy which is making sure that one has to fear problems or to pay fees when using OpenID code. They were working in the background rather making announcements.

    And why aren’t those companies supporting OpenID? Yahoo! is a provider, Blogger, a Google property is both a provider and a relying party, VeriSign is a provider, and Microsoft has announced support for OpenID as early as March 2007 and has launched an experimental OpenID server. Though, actually I don’t know what IBM is up to.

    Tom, your comment bears no substance a t all. Sorry to say that.

  5. I’d just like to say in advance that the caps in this post are for emphasis and not out of anger, just so you know.

    Carsten, don’t be sorry, you just proved my point better than I ever could.

    First, let me say that I know there are good people involved in these organizations. That was not my point. My point was that the corporate members are using them for PR despite the good intentions of their founders. Second, I will admit, I should have said “full OpenID support” instead of just “OpenID Support”. But I consider the terms interchangeable. If you’re going to support a standard you support it fully or there’s very little point.

    On to my main point…

    To say they’re providers so that means they support the initiative is naïve. OF COURSE THEY’RE WILLNG TO BE PROVIDERS. That extends their lock-in. You might as well be pushing Microsoft Passport if all they’re willing to do is be a provider. Google IS willing to be a relying party, but only on blogger their half-dead hasn’t been relevant for years blogging service.

    Bottom line: The second I can log in to a Gmail account with an OpenID we’ll talk but right now I’m not impressed.

    THAT is my whole point. When I said this…

    “The saddest part about all this is that it works. OpenID supporters will pat themselves on the back confident that they’ve beaten the big companies and then go on their way. The big companies will continue to attend meetings that go no where until OpenID has fallen so far behind proprietary technology that it’s pointless to discuss and then it will be forgotten. It’s all just a trick and not even a clever tricky at that.”

    You are EXACTLY what I meant by that. EXACTLY! You’ve really gained nothing and in fact made their proprietary system stronger but you are so convinced they support you that you can’t see it. So now all they have to do is never become a relying party and let OpenID fade into the background and they’ve gotten exactly what they wanted in the first place…for OpenID to go away.

    P.S. There are probably tons of typos in the above post so you’ll have to forgive me for that but I’m posting from the passanger seat of my car via VerizonWireless on the way to vacation. Your response inspired me to kick out a hasty post.

  6. I’d just like to say in advance that the caps in this post are for emphasis and not out of anger, just so you know.

    Carsten, don’t be sorry, you just proved my point better than I ever could.

    First, let me say that I know there are good people involved in these organizations. That was not my point. My point was that the corporate members are using them for PR despite the good intentions of their founders. Second, I will admit, I should have said “full OpenID support” instead of just “OpenID Support”. But I consider the terms interchangeable. If you’re going to support a standard you support it fully or there’s very little point.

    On to my main point…

    To say they’re providers so that means they support the initiative is naïve. OF COURSE THEY’RE WILLNG TO BE PROVIDERS. That extends their lock-in. You might as well be pushing Microsoft Passport if all they’re willing to do is be a provider. Google IS willing to be a relying party, but only on blogger their half-dead hasn’t been relevant for years blogging service.

    Bottom line: The second I can log in to a Gmail account with an OpenID we’ll talk but right now I’m not impressed.

    THAT is my whole point. When I said this…

    “The saddest part about all this is that it works. OpenID supporters will pat themselves on the back confident that they’ve beaten the big companies and then go on their way. The big companies will continue to attend meetings that go no where until OpenID has fallen so far behind proprietary technology that it’s pointless to discuss and then it will be forgotten. It’s all just a trick and not even a clever tricky at that.”

    You are EXACTLY what I meant by that. EXACTLY! You’ve really gained nothing and in fact made their proprietary system stronger but you are so convinced they support you that you can’t see it. So now all they have to do is never become a relying party and let OpenID fade into the background and they’ve gotten exactly what they wanted in the first place…for OpenID to go away.

    P.S. There are probably tons of typos in the above post so you’ll have to forgive me for that but I’m posting from the passanger seat of my car via VerizonWireless on the way to vacation. Your response inspired me to kick out a hasty post.

  7. Data Portability has to work or else
    1. many social sites will see diminished traffic (simply too much work to try to keep all the balls up in the air)
    2. Social graph will not be populated and advertising within walled gardens will wilt
    3. OpenId has trumped FB by diverting app developers to focus on the larger – multi-site pie. Being multi-site risk of failure is distributed. FB runs the risk of becoming as a place where new apps get introduced after everyone else – putting a significant half life constraint on the FB experience – unless FB wants to close shop and develop its own proprietary apps to keep the indians happy
    4. Privacy and govt watchdogs will not allow unfettered tracking/collection of data – which means users must have control over their data
    5. Without monetization – sites will crumble.

  8. Data Portability has to work or else
    1. many social sites will see diminished traffic (simply too much work to try to keep all the balls up in the air)
    2. Social graph will not be populated and advertising within walled gardens will wilt
    3. OpenId has trumped FB by diverting app developers to focus on the larger – multi-site pie. Being multi-site risk of failure is distributed. FB runs the risk of becoming as a place where new apps get introduced after everyone else – putting a significant half life constraint on the FB experience – unless FB wants to close shop and develop its own proprietary apps to keep the indians happy
    4. Privacy and govt watchdogs will not allow unfettered tracking/collection of data – which means users must have control over their data
    5. Without monetization – sites will crumble.

  9. From the OpenID website. “Today there are over a quarter of a billion OpenIDs and well over 10,000 websites to accept them.” This is not failure. I think what’s led to this discussion is just how slow the big players move. You can launch a web 2.0 website in 3 months, but sometimes it takes 3 years for a Yahoo or Google to add something like OpenID. So yes, the period between announcement and implementation can appear to be nothing but PR. And thankfully it’s no longer the same world where a Microsoft could embrace, extend and ultimately kill a standard like SOAP. That the big players recognise an open movement like DP is a good thing. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for them to do anything. They’ll do it or not when they’re good and ready.

    btw Miro: OpenID OpenSocial

  10. From the OpenID website. “Today there are over a quarter of a billion OpenIDs and well over 10,000 websites to accept them.” This is not failure. I think what’s led to this discussion is just how slow the big players move. You can launch a web 2.0 website in 3 months, but sometimes it takes 3 years for a Yahoo or Google to add something like OpenID. So yes, the period between announcement and implementation can appear to be nothing but PR. And thankfully it’s no longer the same world where a Microsoft could embrace, extend and ultimately kill a standard like SOAP. That the big players recognise an open movement like DP is a good thing. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for them to do anything. They’ll do it or not when they’re good and ready.

    btw Miro: OpenID OpenSocial

  11. Tom: Of course, it was desirable that those companies also became relying parties. Though I’m confident they will; just have a look at AOL/AIM which is a relying party now, although it started just as a provider (yeah, AOL is weak on the PR front about OpenID. I know).

    I guess I will agree with your point made if nothing has changed by the end of the year. Like Julian mentioned, big companies are a bit slower.

  12. Tom: Of course, it was desirable that those companies also became relying parties. Though I’m confident they will; just have a look at AOL/AIM which is a relying party now, although it started just as a provider (yeah, AOL is weak on the PR front about OpenID. I know).

    I guess I will agree with your point made if nothing has changed by the end of the year. Like Julian mentioned, big companies are a bit slower.

  13. At this point, data portability is just PR for companies. Until the standards are really hammered out, there just isn’t any meat to it. The only thing that is actually implemented are some of the “front-line” specs like OpenID.

    I am not sure if data portability is the answer or something closer to OpenSocial, where the sharing API is defined. With APIs you can get to a meta-profile that links everything together. I have talked about this a bit in my own blog as well.

  14. At this point, data portability is just PR for companies. Until the standards are really hammered out, there just isn’t any meat to it. The only thing that is actually implemented are some of the “front-line” specs like OpenID.

    I am not sure if data portability is the answer or something closer to OpenSocial, where the sharing API is defined. With APIs you can get to a meta-profile that links everything together. I have talked about this a bit in my own blog as well.

  15. Well, DataPortability may be hype for some of it’s participants, but there are a fair number of programmers working on rigging together the tools and libraries for getting people to the end-point of social network portability and linked open data. Look beyond the corporate gloss to the IRC channels and mailing lists where the real work gets done…

  16. Well, DataPortability may be hype for some of it’s participants, but there are a fair number of programmers working on rigging together the tools and libraries for getting people to the end-point of social network portability and linked open data. Look beyond the corporate gloss to the IRC channels and mailing lists where the real work gets done…

  17. Coming from a person who was a big inspiration to me for many years this one really gets to me man, what happened to your inspiration? Seems like a jaded post.

    What have you said millions of times Robert? EVERYTHING, starts with a conversation.

    Conversations move things like quality user centric movements like Data Portability, and conversations stop wars.

    Just because there is education going on, does not make it PR. Good causes need support to extend, if I had enough time I’d try to help more. PR? They are having conversations.

    This is just me, but IMHO, a movement like Data Portability, who’s entire reason for existence is to make the life of customer easier by having a damn conversation with all of these big companies is going to be hard to squash. It will take time. AOL was around a long time. Data Portability does have elements of PR; they are speaking to big companies and they cant speak lewt user tongue. THe movement is also a lot about education, a blueprint, and most importantly a GOOD conversation, one that’s going to help us users. Perhaps you are trying to light a fire under everyone’s seat, so maybe it’s a good question to ask but I hope that’s the reason you ask it.

  18. Coming from a person who was a big inspiration to me for many years this one really gets to me man, what happened to your inspiration? Seems like a jaded post.

    What have you said millions of times Robert? EVERYTHING, starts with a conversation.

    Conversations move things like quality user centric movements like Data Portability, and conversations stop wars.

    Just because there is education going on, does not make it PR. Good causes need support to extend, if I had enough time I’d try to help more. PR? They are having conversations.

    This is just me, but IMHO, a movement like Data Portability, who’s entire reason for existence is to make the life of customer easier by having a damn conversation with all of these big companies is going to be hard to squash. It will take time. AOL was around a long time. Data Portability does have elements of PR; they are speaking to big companies and they cant speak lewt user tongue. THe movement is also a lot about education, a blueprint, and most importantly a GOOD conversation, one that’s going to help us users. Perhaps you are trying to light a fire under everyone’s seat, so maybe it’s a good question to ask but I hope that’s the reason you ask it.

  19. Jason: maybe I am jaded, but this post was mostly spurred on by a conversation with Flavio Rump. He has a good point: what if everyone joins but nothing changes?

    I wanted to make sure that the Dataportability.org folks hear the concerns and take them on.

  20. Jason: maybe I am jaded, but this post was mostly spurred on by a conversation with Flavio Rump. He has a good point: what if everyone joins but nothing changes?

    I wanted to make sure that the Dataportability.org folks hear the concerns and take them on.

  21. Thanks Scoble, I’m happy to hear the negative things people say about us at the Dataportability group alongside the positive things.

    Is DP just PR? Well I don’t think so, we are certainly trying to highlight and encourage reasonable portability on both sides. Its no good just writing a script which rips everything out of a application. If he application is aware of the script and sees this as a benefit to their users, they could somewhat support the script.

    This might sound odd, but this is what flickr and delicious already do. They support some 3rd party applications which can in some cases make a complete copy of the data available online, offline on that users machine.

    Its about balance and striking a balance on both sides is part of the work of the dataportability group. I would conclude this can’t just be done with just PR.

  22. Thanks Scoble, I’m happy to hear the negative things people say about us at the Dataportability group alongside the positive things.

    Is DP just PR? Well I don’t think so, we are certainly trying to highlight and encourage reasonable portability on both sides. Its no good just writing a script which rips everything out of a application. If he application is aware of the script and sees this as a benefit to their users, they could somewhat support the script.

    This might sound odd, but this is what flickr and delicious already do. They support some 3rd party applications which can in some cases make a complete copy of the data available online, offline on that users machine.

    Its about balance and striking a balance on both sides is part of the work of the dataportability group. I would conclude this can’t just be done with just PR.