’08 – The year of DataPortability

January 6, 2008

It’s been a hectic few days. Our little project to create a reference design for Data Portability has been put at the center of a storm when Robert Scoble, video blogger to the stars, experienced his very own Data Portability use case – getting his personal information out of a closed system. In this case, Facebook.

The DataPortability project sort of happened by accident for me. The goal was simple. Having worked hard to create and champion the cause of APML, the FaradayMedia team and I tried to join the broader standards discussion. The problem, though, was that the same questions kept on getting asked over and over, and the answers -while slightly different each time – were always basically the same.

It usually went something like this…

“So how can we use [X format, standard, protocol, technique] to get data [Y] from silo [Z] for purpose [1, 2 and 3].”

“You could use [my personal format of choice] because [I am personally invested in community A].”

“But that only solves part of my problem, what about [B, C and D]”

“Oh we have not really solved that, probably check out community [E, F and G] for that part”.

The result, was very little standards integration work actually being done because while the standard file formats exist, there is no standard way of implementing them end-to-end.

So we started the DataPortability Workgroup with some friends to try and get the story straight in our own heads and share the results with the world.

The world, though, seems to have come knocking before we were quite ready for the attention. But that’s OK. It has only served to re-double our efforts and seems to prove that there was indeed a problem that needed to be solved.

I’d like to personally thank everyone involved and welcome all the new people who have come to join the conversation. It has been an adrenalin packed few days and I have enjoyed every second.

I really feel quite grateful to have connected with so many people who believe in the same things – including personal heroes who have made all this possible with their hard (and often thankless) work to create the standards that will make DataPortability possible. I’d particularly like to assure those people that DP is not about re-inventing what they have done, but rather shining a light on their work by putting it in context for those that need to see the big picture spelled out.

It seems that the web will dramaticlly evolve again this year. It used to be the Web of Pages, most recently it evolved into the Web of People… it seems in 2008 the Web of Data begins to take root.

Look forward to the fun…

7 Responses to “’08 – The year of DataPortability”


  1. Hey Chris,

    I should say I really like the intention of DP.
    Young startup (like ours) should understand that what keep their services out of being adopted by the mass is the inability for the same mass to ‘free’ their own data.

    For example, I wouldn’t commit so much time into a service if I knew i wouldn’t be able to export it when I’d like to.

    By giving your users the freedom to export and leave you when they want, you communicate them that you’re self-confident about your service, that you’ll do whatever is needed to keep them happy and work hard for them staying with you.

    I can say that I am going to adopt all the standards around to make the life easy for my future users to be able to export their identity out of my platform if they wish to, because I know I would like to do it myself, and I know this is going to be standard in few years.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Gordon Rae Says:

    Keep on keepin on … there are people around who will share the burden.

  3. chrissaad Says:

    @Adam @Gordon thanks for your support – much appreciated!


  4. […] della parola d’ordine per quest’anno: "Open". Anche Chris Saad su Paying Attention parla delle necessità e delle tendenze di apertura del Web, indicando il 2008 come […]


  5. […] these questions and more, I suggest you plug into the DataPortability group. As Chris Saad says in a recent post: It seems that the web will dramaticlly evolve again this year. It used to be the Web of Pages, […]


  6. […] was called “The year of Data Portability”. In many ways, that prediction was very […]


  7. […] was called “The year of Data Portability”. In many ways, that prediction was very […]


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