Internet Wish: Twitter Bot

November 30, 2008

I would love it if someone would write a TwitterBot service. It would:

  • Allow you to give it the Username and Password of a given Twitter Account (let’s say JSKitSupport)
  • Auto-follow people when they followed it
  • Auto-unfollow people when they unfollow it
  • Allow you to register one or more ‘Bot Owners’ (Both Twitter account and Email Address)
  • Forward any @replies or references to given keywords to Bot Owners
  • Allow bot owners to direct message it and have it relay those messages to its followers (perhaps optionally auto-append the Owner’s twitter name to the end of the message)
  • Allows Bot Owners to direct message it commands
  • One of those commands could be ‘d tag last’ which ques up the last @reply in some sort of ‘follow up’ queue for the bot owners.

Can you think of any other features? Add them in comments and if I like them I will append them here!

Is Data Portability Safe?

November 20, 2008

‘What about privacy and security’ is a question that comes up regularly when discussing Data Portability. I’d like to address some of the reasons why Data Portability is actually good for privacy.

More safe than today.

Data Portability is not about putting more personal data in the cloud. We’re dealing with data that’s already out there. The goal is to provide the ability to give access to your data to applications you trust.

Using proper protocols and formats to move the data such as oAuth and OpenID is safer than allowing sites to scrape your mail account by giving it your username and password. They are safer because you are not giving your username and password away and because the access is scoped. Scoped access mean that you can grant specific and precise access to only the data you want to share with the requesting application (e.g. just your address book) as apposed to giving them complete access to your entire gmail account (address book, email, account history, google searches etc).

Federated Karma – Market Forces made Explicit

It may be possible to build a distributed trust or Karma system that sites and services can expose on Authorization Screens so that users can make informed decisions before trusting an application.

Users could rate services and the ratings would be normalized and made available via trusted Karma aggregation services.

This would provide an explicit meta layer of market sentiment at the point of permitting a data portability transaction.

This solution is far better than the Facebook Protection Fee solution.

Privacy is the wrong word

The real issue should not be labeled Privacy. Privacy is an idea but it’s not actionable. It can not be converted into ‘functionality’. We should be discussing ‘access controls’, ‘portable permission metadata’ and ‘universal privacy models’. These ideas combined allow us to define and implement privacy preferences in concrete terms.

Hyper Transparency

Privacy advocates can never and should never come to peace with it, but it’s clear that traditional ideas of privacy are changing.

Remember that It was once thought unconscionable to share you photos, daily activities, location, relationship status and other personal information for the world to see. Now it’s standard practice for young people around the world.

What taboos of personal privacy will fade next? It’s quite possible the question asked by future generations of Internet users will ask not why their data is available for everyone to see, but rather why it isn’t.

“I think therefore I am”.

Maybe now it’s

“I tweet therefore I am”.

The web-wide social network

November 19, 2008

Ross Dawson has an excellent summary of a Gartner presentation on the Distributed Social Web by David Cearley. A web where each participant is their own central node on a web-wide social network.

It is the only natural conclusion of the vision of Data Portability.

It will be made possible by a series of futurists, technologists, philanthropists and engineers developing core building blocks like OpenID, oAuth, APML, PortableContacts, XMPP, RSS/ATOM, OPML, Microformats and more.

It will be commercialized by a series of entrepreneurial start ups with stars in their eyes running in and around the feet of the giants who are each fighting each other to keep up. Startups like JS-Kit.

It will be fueled by traditional and not so traditional media companies, steered by young, idealistic intrapraneurs, who are willing to take a bet in order to stake their claim on the next generation of social networking and human communication.

It will be monetized by a recognition that one can’t monetize word-of-mouth. Instead Attention will emerge as the ultimate way to measure, discover and interact with participants. See Faraday Media.

It will be popularized by bloggers, smart IT journalists and conference organizers who understand the importance of open over closed.

We have already started to see a preview of the world to come via the early attempts at rudimentary aggregators and proprietary data portability implementations. This is just the beginning of the beginning.

For a more details around the emerging trends, check out Ross’ post.

According to CNet, Facebook is going to start charging app developers a fee to achieve ‘Verified Application’ status. The fee is optional, but that doesn’t matter. Apps that are not ‘verified’ will quickly get buried by those that are.

I think in hindsight people will recognize this move as one of the final death knels of the Facebook platform as we know it today.

First, they de-emphasized applications all together by relegating them to a ‘boxes’ page and making the stream their primary interaction metaphor (Read: FriendFeed clone). Now they are trying to lock down the platform further, raising the bar for participation and charging what amounts to a protection fee for app developers to get any real attention at all.

The fact of the matter is, an increasing number of people are finally realizing that Facebook looks very similar to Pre Internet networks, AOL, Passport/Hailstorm, and any other proprietary implementation of a platform that can and must be open.

The only platform that matters on the web is the web itself, and Facebook through its actions and inactions is helping us all learn this lesson faster than ever.

Who owns your comment data?

November 11, 2008

We have started a conversation over on the JS-Kit blog about data ownership when it comes to comments. This is one of the Data Portability grey areas that needs a resolution in the ongoing journey to create the data web.

This is also an important question for social media. If we are all participants, who owns the space inside which we are particiapting?

I would love your input!

In this video, Tim O’reilly speaks about Data Portability. He suggests that it will be much like Open Source software in that it will never truly be adopted. I don’t know if I agree. 

Data Portability is less like Open Source software and more like the Internet and the Web itself. The standardized and interoperable protocals that make up the web – TCP/IP, HTTP, HTML etc – are adopted by anyone who wants access to Internet users. In much the same way, anyone who wants access to user data from the emerging web-wide data ecosystem will need to adopt emerging data portability formats and protocals.

Later in the video he goes on to say that data portabilty will actually be adopted, but not through legislation, but rather through organic mechanisms that gravitate towards open solutions that ‘just work’.

On this front, I agree. But Tim does not mention how we might help the process along. He does not mention that organic processes can and should include incentives. How the DataPortability project, through its definition of the problem and ongoing work to highlight good work towards an open data ecosystem actually encourages our collective desired outcomes.

Data Portability will indeed occur organically. The building blocks themselves were born out of organic efforts. An accellerant in the form of community, media and support documentation, however, has already helped push things along.