November 7, 2008
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.
October 14, 2008
I’d like to take this moment to explain who JS-Kit is, what it could be, and why I decided to get involved.
First, I get offered a lot of advisory roles or full time jobs. It’s always very tempting to help entrepreneurs pursuing their dreams.
The reality is, however, between my company Faraday Media, my work at the DataPortability project, APML Workgroup, Media 2.0 Workgroup and other projects there simply isn’t enough bandwidth left to give the attention required.
The JS-Kit opportunity is different. When I first met Khris Loux (The CEO of JS-Kit) it was clear very quickly that we had a unique connection and a shared vision for a distributed Personal Web. As a result I have broken my own rule and accepted the offer to consult with/advise the company on a formal basis. It will be a significant commitment and take up a large part of my time.
The company he has quietly built over the last 2 years reflects our shared vision and its success is unmatched in the marketplace. With more than 550,000 registered sites, JS-Kit is the largest provider of light-weight plug in social features on the web. More importantly, though, it has no destination site. A philosophical choice that allows it to execute on a strategy of powering the edge to get more social – and more personal – without siphoning traffic back to a proprietary center.
JS-Kit technology powers some of the biggest sites on the web – with more to be announced soon.
This combination of scale and a focus on the edge makes the company uniquely placed to build something very special.
There are a number of challenges ahead for the company though – challenges of which Khris and the team are all too aware.
The name is not great! It was the name of a prototype product that became very successful very quickly despite not being ready for prime time so it sorta stuck. Blame Nick Gonzalez for writing it up in Techcrunch only days after it was put live for preliminary testing (just kidding I love Nick in a manly platonic sort of way)
Adoption is easy, but customization (it’s possible to make the widgets unrecognizable from the default style) is far too hard to do for average users.
The design is Web 1.0 at best. The site, brand and products lack a cohesive visual language and a modern look and feel.
These are just some of the things I will be helping to change over the coming months. The funding round also allows the team to execute on these opportunities quickly. These changes will be a precursor to a much broader strategy that we hope will delight users, empower publishers and surprise the industry.
In the mean time though, Faraday Media is still very much alive and kicking with both my involvement and the involvement of my best friend and co-founder Ashley Angell. I believe the core technologies developed in its labs will change the web. Faraday Media and JS-Kit will continue their business development activities and my role will help to shepherd the process.
So in this time of Economic woes, failing companies, staff layoffs and uncertain times I am proud and honored to be part of a team that is continuing to have a sustainable and positive impact on the web and actually growing the opportunity for a distributed personal ecosystem.
So now I’m involved, I’d like to encourage you to try out the tools on your sites and blogs and send me feedback directly. I’d like to start a conversation with you to improve the company and the web together.
Coverage has already started
September 29, 2008
Let me address each of his main points one by one.
(1) The average Internet user probably isn’t an active member of dozens of Web 2.0 services. While this may be difficult for some to believe, the truth is that most people don’t feel compelled to sign up for every new Web 2.0 service that launches. And quite frequently, users sign up for services that they eventually end up using very little. Data portability seems a lot less compelling when one recognizes that many, if not most, mainstream Internet users aren’t actively investing their time equally across a wide range of Web 2.0 services.
Actually you’re wrong. Data Portability is not about ‘Web 2.0’ – it’s about any web-based service. A typical user might use CNN, Yahoo Mail, Facebook, AIM, their cell phone and their PC or Laptop. That’s a lot of apps. Imagine the possibilities of having them sync some aspects of your data.
(2) The average Internet user probably doesn’t need or want to take his friends along to every Web 2.0 service he or she signs up for. These services can be fun and entertaining, but the notion that every user wants to be able to import his data when signing up for a new one is asinine.
Really? I remember the same argument against Telephones, PCs and Cell phones. It’s only asinine if you have a failure of imagination.
The point is not what users do today, but rather what new applications and innovation are possible in a standards based data ecosystem.
(3) Privacy is just as important as openness. Where does my data end and yours begin? If you believe that users of Web 2.0 services have some inherent “right” to control their own data but that this data is in inexorably linked to the “social graph,” what “rights” do users have to control where “shared” data goes?
Openness is the wrong word. The DataPortability project does not refer to the ‘Open Web’ for a reason.
Privacy is also the wrong word. Privacy is too broad a term that has no actionable attributes. We need to focus on words that represent features for implementation. Features that allow Access controls and permissioning for example.
As for shared or derived data, the lines are being drawn and the issues are being debated. Just because it’s hard to work out doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.
August 4, 2008
April 17, 2008
The conference that stated it all is back in town next week. Regardless of what you think of the term, it’s the place to be to see all your favorite people in one place. Let me know if you are going to be there – will be great to catch up with some people!
Sounds like there might also be a DataPortability meetup happening at the same time too!
December 5, 2007
My best friend and business partner Ashley Angell has invented a new holiday in honour of all the neglected people out there who love Web 2.0 Start-up Founders.
Ashley says “I love my wife, but she gets no attention from me because I am too busy building Attention technologies – so I thought we should dedicate a day to her, and everyone like her”
Brilliant idea Ash! Check it out at www.spouse2.com and join in the fun by tagging your photos and posts ‘Spouse 2.0’.
Oh and I designed the site.