Microsoft to join DataPortability – Where’s the beef?

January 23, 2008

The news today is that Microsoft intends to join the DataPortability Project.

So where’s the beef? Why are long-time influentials from all these large vendors joining the cause? What are we offering? What are we trying to do? What’s in it for them? What do they bring to the table?

Many of these questions are already answered in the Project Charter, on the FAQ page and in the excellent video by Michael Pick. but I thought that since I am getting much of the blame credit for this that I might put it all in context in my own words.

First, I’d like to clarify that DataPortability is not mine. It is an initiative that was co-founded by many people who all believed that something was missing from the existing Identity/Data/Standards landscape. Something very small, but very important.

A story…

A message. A simple rallying cry for the mainstream that would:

  1. Explain the problem in simple terms
  2. Help contextualize existing efforts to solve it
  3. Encourage inter operable adoption by users, vendors and developers

That’s exactly what DataPortability brings to the community. A neutral, community driven forum in which standards groups can champion their technology in the context of a solution, vendors can raise their concerns and get answers and end-users can get a easy, safe and secure experience.

So back to the original question. Where’s the value?

The value is in the exciting and critically important work that standards groups have been doing for years. It’s in the new conversations being encouraged between standards groups and vendors both inside the DataPortability Project and independently 1 on 1. It’s in the Action Groups that are bringing diverse people together. It’s in the Action Packs we are developing to help tell the story to Executives, Developers, Designers, Bloggers and Vendors. It’s in the Technical and Policy Blueprints we are designing to tell the story in a more detailed way and believe it or not, it’s in the PR hype of the announcements.

Each announcement – each new member – both large and small – means another voice, and another opportunity to broaden the conversation and apply the sort of grass-roots pressure we all know already exists to create a web of data we can Connect, Control, Share and Remix.

In regard to Microsoft specifically, I welcome their voice in the conversation. Their team has been one of the most transparent and accessible of all the vendors we have spoken to and their products and services touch the lives of almost everyone both online and off.

Please join us

Special thanks to Daniela Barbosa for finding the picture!

10 Responses to “Microsoft to join DataPortability – Where’s the beef?”

  1. bentrem Says:

    p.s. best to give some feedback that a comment has been submitted; after I clicked the button first thing I saw was “No Comments”. (I get really pissy about this sorta thing; we knew better even before WWW came into existence … UI/IA 101 … and nobody seems to give a shit.)

  2. bentrem Says:

    *Worse: I went to the trouble of keying this in, getting the data, getting the URL … and it never posted!*

    An interesting schizophrenia’s showing up in the poll at Mashable:
    DataPortability is … (84 votes cast)
    * A great idea that will have great results
    35 of all votes
    * A great idea that will ultimately not do much
    30 of all votes
    * A bad idea with too many privacy issues
    3 of all votes
    * A meaningless set of marketing announcements
    16 of all votes

    65 of 84 thought “a great idea”. So the skepticism isn’t about the concept … about implementation? about the players?
    Your guess is as good as mine.


  3. Charlie Says:

    It would be great to see Microsoft support the concept of data portability with its actions. I had a bad experience with them just a couple days ago:

    I am helping my Grandma right now move from WebTV to her first computer. WebTV was bought by Microsoft, so it’s now MSN TV. Grandma has been using this service for at least 8 years now, and she has a lot of important stuff in her email folders that she’d like to move to her new service.

    I called MSN support and asked (nicely) how we could transfer all that data – her data – over. The response was a simple, “you can’t do that”.

    An incredible exchange followed, going something like this:

    Me: “I can’t do that? Why not?”

    MSN Rep: “because there’s no way to do it”

    Me: “Well shouldn’t there be? It’s her data!”

    MSN Rep: “Well we don’t have a way to do that”

    Me: “Have other people called with questions like this?”

    MSN Rep: “Yes, quite a few”

    Me: “And what do you tell them?”

    MSN Rep: “We tell them there’s no way to do it”

    Me: “Well that sounds like a problem doesn’t it? How are you addressing it?”

    MSN Rep: (I don’t remember how she answered this point, but it was very much in the spirit of, “we’re not”)

    Me: “Ok let me ask… is webtv’s email stored on the box or on your servers?”

    MSN Rep: “It’s kept on our servers”

    Me: “Alright, is there an open protocol your servers support, like IMAP or POP, to access webtv email on the servers?”

    MSN Rep: “No”

    It was very frustrating, though she did assure me that the data would be there just as long as we kept on paying for the service.

  4. […] Chris Saad today and get the scoop from him on the big question regarding the workgroup: “Where’s the beef?” The answers will surprise […]

  5. Opo Says:

    Microsoft concept:

    If you can’t Beat them, Join them…

  6. @BenTrem : without a hint of snobbery I’m pretty sure that most of the unsure/against/negative/privacy people don’t completely understand DP, which is the whole reason exists. 😀

    @Charlie : thanks for the crosspost from the article on computerworld. 😉

    @Opo – in reality, there is just a representative from MS on the DP workgroup, we don’t need to worry about “embrace and extend.” in the end the sybolism of having someone like MS on “the team” is far better than not having them. It’s exactly the kind of sybolism that we need to get the rest of the industry interested in something useful. Net effect? – positive.

  7. […] the announcement of Microsoft joining the DataPortability workgroup, the attention is on the blossom workgroup more than it has ever been […]

  8. […] Microsoft to join DataPortability – Where’s the beef? « Paying Attention […]

  9. […] a member” of the group (you simply have to sign up for a mailing list) and the focus on large vendors without advancing an agenda with teeth and clearly defined metrics for success was palpable. But so […]

  10. […] a response from Chris Saad, DataPortability chairman and founder. I should state that I am now involved with […]

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