I just posted a summary of the current data portability landscape to the Official DataPortability Blog.

From the post:

Closed platforms are like ice cubes in a glass of water. They will float for a while. They will change the temperature of the liquid
beneath. Ultimately, however, the ice cube must eventually melt into the wider web.

Facebook’s success with Facebook Connect can and will further drive innovation in the community to develop an open alternative.

Facebook’s success will (like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, AOL, Myspace, countless major media properties and countless small startups) to create alternatives. At least some of those participants will recognize (if they have not already) that the most open among them will earn both the respect and the market share of the next phase. Moving from Facebook Connect’s ‘data portability’ to Interoperable DataPortability.

A web of Data.

That’s a landscape where we can continue to innovate on a level playing field.

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!

Jeremiah Owyang is one of those people with a sharp mind and a clear communication style that makes everyone stand up and listen. His input is always welcome and he has posted some great ideas for DataPortability.org. I thought I would respond to them here.

I will post his requirements and my comments after each.

1. Charter document: This lists the groups purpose, who’s held accountable, and what we expect to see and goals

We have started a Workgroup Roadmap to ensure that the right documents get created and ratified. So far we have an emerging decision making structure and a path for deliverables.

We also have an emerging ‘Agenda‘ which will be expanded into a Manifesto.

2. Needs: Problem definition document, what exactly is broken?

We are going to start defining Use Cases soon. We also have an emerging set of Design Goals for the DataPortability Technical Blueprint.

3. Plan: A strategy doc that outlines the next steps the group will take to fix the problem, dependencies, phases, and risks.

Again, we have the Roadmap

4. Calendar: Of regular meetings, and who’s assigned to each problem. Dates that indicate what will be done when.

The dates will be set by the Roadmap. Meetings, at the moment, are not planned. We are discussing things on the Workgroup Forum.

5. Meeting minutes: A regularly published list of notes after each meeting that indicate the progress done by each member

The discussion forum is actually open to the public. Watch the conversation in real-time. This is 2008 people!

6. Document: Body of standards, the rules, and the final output

The main DataPortability deliverables will be the DataPortability Technical Blueprint and a DataPortability Policy Blueprint. These will map out a way for vendors to implement the world’s open standards for maximum interoperability.

7. Openness: Public announcements of progress of major milestones

Again, the discussion is open and transparent and the public can watch in real time, and can also participate in the public group.

Members will obviously blog, tweet and shout results from the rooftops.

8. Actual results: our identity portable, safe, managed and controlled by the owners.

This will be up to vendors – and to bloggers, media and users who need to choose vendors who respect their DataPortability rights – once the Blueprints are ratified of course.

Can you suggest improvements? Comment here, or join the Public Discussion and start a thread!

Don’t forget to read the rest of his post.