MicroPost: Data Portability…what’s in it for me?

Am I the only one that’s not jumping up and down with excitement over the recent data portability announcements from MySpace, Facebook and Google?

I mean, I can understand why opening up the data on these platforms is good for them, but I’m still waiting for an innovation that feels like it’s good for me—the person who uses these platforms.

Sure, being able to share with, invite, and find new friends serves their business model. They have my data, and now they’re going to make it easy for my friends to know what I’m doing, buying, saying…but all, it seems, with a mind to promoting more products and pushing more media.

But what part of these innovations helps me do what I want to do socially? What part helps the picture I upload to BrightKite find its way over to Flickr or my Facebook albums…to let the stats I upload on Concept2 show up on my Twitter feed, or better yet to a place that I choose within Facebook…to let a link to my latest blog post automatically show up on my LinkedIn profile? MySpace may be doing some of this…but it feels more “MySpace-centric” rather than “what people really want-centric.” If that makes sense.

Mento.com—from Berlin, natch—gives me a whiff of this value. When one of my friends opens a link I’ve sent the, I get a direct message in Twitter, if I’d like. There’s value for me in that (thanks, Mento!).

I do so many “thin” things on different social networks these days. Real utility for me would be about bringing some of these things together in a way that made it more fun, social and valuable (hey, relevant) for me to put my data up on these networks. I’d rather do that than see more ads and automatically blast my friends with updates on what I’m buying and doing.

It seems that all of this data portability has been shaped by the platform provider’s business plan, and the need to keep up with all things open, than by any real sense of what people might want to really do socially, or by providing a service that delivers real utility and satisfaction.

Am I missing something? What do you think?


4 thoughts on “MicroPost: Data Portability…what’s in it for me?”

  1. Hi Ellen,

    The main thing that excites me is that it will make the adoption rate and barrier to entry easier for my not so social savvy friends who really only know one social network. Friendfeed, Stumbleupon, and Twitter are awesome but it seems like every time I joined another site, I lost a few friends along the way. I am glad to make new friends without a doubt but I also don’t want to create disconnects along the way with real friends and people I am getting to know. I want my friends in each social network to see what all my conversations are so they can read or join in.

    Add to that being able to take my profile info like bio, interests etc with me from site to site is a plus as well as enabling my friends to be able to connect with me on any social site I am on without having to send a friend request or even register for the site. I think we are in a have it your way period and data portability will allow everyone to connect regardless of what service they might be confining themselves to.

    There are so many great sites and services but a lot of them do the same things. Right now I am figuring out what the differentiators are for sites and then using them for those few features. I am using a combo of sites to get things posted from my WordPress to my Twitter and my Facebook connected to my Myspace and my tweets to go to my email and also to my Livejournal and another site to voice post and another to video and pic post. Linking those sites up in a way that it creates the pipeline you are hoping for without creating too much noise is the goal for me.

    As you can see those are a good handful of sites to touch. A mashed up dashboard to be able to manage all these pages settings would be awesome.

  2. Just so it’s here as well as Twitter:

    I feel as though people want to tie small strings between apps, not whole-ball-of-yarn portability as these companies suggest; sure I want Twitter to communicate with Facebook for my updates, and maybe there’s a way that a Facebook photo and Twitter might play nice– but I don’t want TOO much peanut butter in my chocolate.

    I’m all for the self-actualization that Facebook provides, but I think that the option for MySpace’s splintered identities serves a role(s) as well– and data portability seems to be saying that your data is centralized and we want you to be able to move that barrel of data– so what if you’re 17 with four MySpace profiles?

    If they could promise they’d work on making strings of data more fluid, that’d be great. But everyone’s talking about big bites of all our data.

    I want packages of my identities as signals and signs, like a group of hung shingles outside a mainstreet. If I post on a blog I’d like it to be clear that I have a Twitter ID, Facebook, etc. But linking to that personal ID village and literally having my ID village follow me like a redundant Verizon commercial is NOT what I want.

    Data Interoperability and Data Portability are not the same thing. I don’t need to carry anything in a backpack, I’d just rather have peace of mind that I can access it or connect it with others when I need to. Same reason I don’t carry discs and discs of my old emails with me– I can access GMail from anywhere, right?

    My iPod lets me CHOOSE from anything in my collection whenever I’d like to connect it from the ether to my ears. It doesn’t give me the option of listening to my entire collection all playing at once because I’d NEVER need that.


  3. I’m with you and Dean on this. It’s really unclear to me how these companies will ever, as you describe, stitch data from Twitpic to my map on Flickr to Brightkite through FireEagle.

    One of the most disturbing things to me was a statement made in marshallk’s post yesterday:

    “the beauty of open standards is that companies don’t have to talk”

    How absurd is it to think that industry giants can create meaningful integration between semi-porous walled gardens?

  4. Mitchell Tsai has given data implications some deep thought:


    We all seem to be agreeing on: (a) having a say in how our data is used, where it goes; (b) having the controls to get our data to do cool stuff that makes our online “social life” relevant, private, and not just some big uncontrolled data hemmorage; (c) at the end of the day, data—and how we use it—needs to be about “us” and not about “them”…and it doesn’t feel that way now.

    So much has changed in the social proliferation of data in the past months; some of the changes have seeped in and now we find ourselves saying, “Wait a minute!” as the rules are rewired before our eyes. If you think of the younger users on these networks, though, this is just “the way it is”…they will grow up with a very different sense of online privacy, and their say/stake in it, than those of use who have watched the evolution. Big thoughts, actually…and not ones to be taken lightly.

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