Today Microsoft takes another big step towards Data Portability by announcing their Contacts API for their Live Platform.

To quote John Richards, Director of Live Platform (an active participant in the DataPortability project) from the press release:

“To tackle the issue of contact data portability it is important to reconcile the larger issue of data ownership.  Who owns the data, like email addresses in a Windows Live Hotmail address book?  We firmly believe that we are simply stewards of customers’ data and that customers should be able to choose how they control and share their data. We think customers should be able to share their data in the most safe and secure way possible, but historically this openness has been achieved largely through a mechanism called “screen-scraping,” which unduly puts customers at risk for phishing attacks, identity fraud, and spam. Now with the Windows Live Contacts API, we have provided an alternative to “screen-scraping” that is equally open but unequivocally safer and more secure for customers. “

This is another strong example of how committed Microsoft is to data portability in general and the DataPortability project specifically.

As things take shape in the DataPortability Project, we will have specific recommendations for Microsoft and all other vendors to make sure that their APIs are seamlessly inter-operable with other DataPortability enabled applications.

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
Chris

Special thanks to Daniela Barbosa for finding the picture!

Speaking at MixOnCampus

November 11, 2007

I will be speaking at MixOnCampus Brisbane on the 20th of November along with my best friend and business partner Ashley Angell.

See you there!