Data Portability News: Microsoft, Scoble, Facebook and Labs - mrtopf.demrtopf.de

Data Portability News: Microsoft, Scoble, Facebook and Labs

So here is another one of my very infrequent updates on what’s happening in the Data Portability Project (of course in random order and not complete in any regard):

Microsoft releases Contacts API for their Live Platform

Chris Saad quotes on his blog a press release from John Richards, Director of Live Platform of Microsoft:

“To tackle the issue of contact data portability it is important to reconcile the larger issue of data ownership. Who owns the data, like email addresses in a Windows Live Hotmail address book? We firmly believe that we are simply stewards of customers’ data and that customers should be able to choose how they control and share their data. We think customers should be able to share their data in the most safe and secure way possible, but historically this openness has been achieved largely through a mechanism called “screen-scraping,” which unduly puts customers at risk for phishing attacks, identity fraud, and spam. Now with the Windows Live Contacts API, we have provided an alternative to “screen-scraping” that is equally open but unequivocally safer and more secure for customers. “

You can find the press release here.

One of the problems is of course the proliferation of Contact Data Schemes. It seems that every project and every API now defines their own format (the last one was the Google Contacts API). And this is exactly where I hope the DataPortability can make a difference in the future and provide proposals which format best to use.

In other news Microsoft is also helping by offering lawyer time and other things to the project. So that seems to be good news from one company I wouldn’t directly expect it.

Robert Scoble on DataPortability

Robert Scoble was probably one of the important folks giving some exposure to the DataPortability Project in the beginning because of his problems with Facebook.

In his latest post about the topic he reports from a conversation with Dave Morin, head of Facebook’s application platform about the use cases which are not yet fully understood in how to solve these in a distributed network. He also raises the question if Dataportability.org actually shipped anything yet beyond PR?

In fact there seems not to be that much yet but look at what the world is talking about: Data Portability everywhere. So it shaped the conversation and according to Chris Saad who met lots of people from lots of companies recently all of those are pretty aware of the issue. I think this in itself is a success already.

It’s not true though that there is nothing than PR produced. There at least is the Discovery Draft which is a start but put on hold because we decided to focus on research first.

It’s actually also good to have this list of use cases and issues he quotes but it would of course be even better of Dave Morin would participate in the DataPortability Project which they actually joined. I think it would be great to hear from him or others from Facebook what their view on the problem is from both the user and the business perspective.

DataPortability Labs?

At the last DataPortability meetup in San Francisco the idea of labs came up. Citing Phil Wolff, one of the participants, the rationale was:

  • we wanted to create a sandbox for play, exploration, research, and discovery.
  • we wanted to attract talent to DP.org
  • we need the new ideas that emerge from touching code and experimentation
  • we don’t want to taint these works with the burden of being DP „standard“ or „endorsed“ or anything other than rough drafts or pilot projects
  • that’s not to say that some lab work might not create new protocols
  • spun out into new standards or new design patterns that become part of a sponsored blueprint.
  • the kind of work that goes on in labs projects could apply to ANY of the action groups. like the dynamic badge (nice use of Google’s charting API and javascript) created for the Evangelism AG’s logo contest.

There was lots of discussion if that makes sense, if it shouldn’t be part of some Action Group and so on. This again triggered the idea of Projects which is explained (and discussed) here.

So the project is active and alive although some might object that it’s too much focusing on it’s own structure and processes at the moment. But the problem is also where to start and for this I applaude efforts which try to partition the problem space somewhat so that you can better think about it. And this is what’s happening right now.

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