thoughts and observations of a privacy, security and internet researcher, activist, and policy advisor

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Data Portability? Portable People!

Drama 2.0 has a great guest comment at Mashable on the concept of "data portability", which means that people may be able to take their identity and social graph data from one Web2.0 platform and move it to a new one. There's been a lot of hype around this recently, but he says: "Data portability is boring":
I think the name reveals what’s wrong with the concept: “data.” Yes, data is important, but the data collected by Web 2.0 services isn’t what makes those services compelling- it’s the fact that real people you have some connection to are using them too. I could take my Facebook “data” with me to another Web 2.0 service, but if the friends “contained” within that data aren’t using that service, what’s the point?

Obviously, data portability goes beyond simple lists of friends, but in the context of consumer Web 2.0 services, I think technologists who now consider the addition of “social” features to existing applications to be innovation ironically overlook the fact that data and technology don’t drive the popularity of Web 2.0 services – people do.

Without active, engaged and passionate users who perceive some value in using the Internet as a platform for social interaction, a Web 2.0 service probably isn’t going anywhere, regardless of data portability.
The great British blues-rock band Ten Years After had a track on their 1979 album "Alvin Lee & Company" which was called "Portable People":
See them at the airport with their cases in their hand
Got a ten day package in another land
They're the jet age gypsies with a super-sonic sound
They're the portable people, and they take themselves around
The cases, airports and super-sonic jets nicely illustrate how much effort people take in order to work with or meet other people. Real people, not their de-contextualized data representations.

Drama 2.0 also points out the privacy problems of data portability, but I've blogged about those before.

(Mashable story via)


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