Open Web Foundation
July 23, 2008
As a co-founder of the DataPortability project, I’d like to be the first to welcome the Open Web Foundation to the conversation that was crystallized by the project early this year.
It seems like the foundation is well placed to provide a much needed level of oversight and legal protection for fledgling open standards. These standards will ultimately contribute to the ‘data portability’ vision of an inter-operable, standards-based web of data. In our investigations of the various standards, this has been a key concern for us and we feel encouraged people are stepping up to remove this potential roadblock. there is enormous value in getting more people involved in working towards a vision we all share, and for that reason I am genuinely excited by this development.
Two points to note however. I have always had concerns about using the term ‘Open’ when describing data – it sometimes invokes fears of a lack of privacy. Also, exclusive councils are somewhat of a dichotomy which don’t seem to be in keeping in dealing with ‘open’ technologies. Both these concerns, however, should not overshadow the value of a group of people working towards a vision we all share. For example I’d hope that the group is open to standards not developed by the founding individuals and companies.
We believe that governance is at the center of making these kinds of initiatives truly open and aligned with our shared visions of an open web. As such the DataPortability Project has ratified a radical new governance model that allows maximum participation while maintaining agility and accountability. This consolidates months of experience in managing a large, high-profile community, to go beyond a “benelovent dictatorship” or smoke filled rooms towards total transparency and community participation.
I have personally received a number of requests from other groups to learn from our model. With this in mind, I think there would be value in abstracting our governance model and providing it as a sort of ‘open source’ implementation of Roberts Rules for distributed, asynchronous groups that other global and transparent projects could use and contribute to.
Further, as per our governance framework, we have introduce a deliverable focused “Taskforce” model, whereby anyone in the community can create a Taskforce that fits with the goals of the DataPortability project to promote data portability in the community. Some Taskforces can be made official by the Steering group and will, as such, become responsible for official deliverables of the DataPortability Project.
So far a ‘Vision’ Taskforce has been created to describe our definition of ‘Data Portability’. Also a ‘Status Grid’ Taskforce to develop and maintain a grid of vendor compliance with various open philosophies. This was inspired by Marc Canter at the Data Sharing Summit and will be lead by Daniela Barbosa. We expect a number of new Taskforces to spring up with the common goal of promoting data portability throughout the technical and mainstream communities.
It’s exciting times for the web. We are watching the dawn of the data web emerge before our eyes, which is finally bringing together multiple efforts under simple memes to capture the attention of the mainstream. It will have as profound an impact on the world as the document web and social web before it.
I look forward to continuing the journey with all of you.