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The Interoperable Internet

In a recent post Tim O’Reilly writes about an incumbent problem that the open source movement may encounter in a near future: the rise of cloud computing may create a new, proprietary lock-in where users are trapped by services holding their data rather than software installed on their machines.

I can see this problem very well. I think about it every time I hear this nonsense talk about some new sites becoming new platforms for the Internet. New and well established companies play this game: Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Microsoft and all the WebOS startups out there.  Their game is to reproduce – in some form or shape – what Microsoft has brilliantly done with Windows and the PC, and Apple with MAC OS.

Most people (but not Tim O’Reilly) do not see that the platform is already there! It’s called the Internet, or – as Tim writes it – The Interoperable Internet.

Take note: All of the platform as a service plays, from Amazon’s S3 and EC2 and Google’s AppEngine to Salesforce’s force.com — not to mention Facebook’s social networking platform — have a lot more in common with AOL than they do with internet services as we’ve known them over the past decade and a half. Will we have to spend a decade backtracking from centralized approaches? The interoperable internet should be the platform, not any one vendor’s private preserve.” (Tim O’Reilly)

We could not agree more!

And don’t we all know that the AOL approach was not the right one? Don’t we all want a rich open platform where small and big applications can freely coexist and “interoperate”, allowing user’s data to move freely from one point to another?

We – here at foldier – believe the Interoperable Internet is the future. A platform no one owns. Where every user owns his or her data regardless of where it is stored. A platform that offers standard protocols application developers can use to connect the dots.

Use foldier a bit and you will quickly recognize that foldier does not hold any of your data, rather it links to it, organizes it and makes it available to you, wherever it may be. Foldier logically organizes your data; it does not change its physical location. Who cares where the data is as long as you can reach it? foldier lets you create your own version of the Internet, the one with the information you care the most; a central place where you can connect the services that make the most sense to you, not just the services provided by the people holding your data.

Keep following us here and on foldier.com. The vision is taking shape.

Michele Ursino

Important data portability events

April 15, 2008 Leave a comment

To learn more about the issues in and around data portability — especially identity — make sure to sign up for all or one of these upcoming events.  They will be on-the-ground realistic and help to illuminate what lies ahead for the people and companies looking to make data portable.

  • The Data Sharing Workshop, April 18 – 19 at the SFSU, Downtown Campus.
  • The Data Sharing Summit, May 15, at the Computer History Museum.

Visit the Data Sharing Summit website for more information and to register.

And if you’re particularly interested in the significant work that’s been done in identity, make sure to visit the Identity Commons wiki to learn more about identity and how you can participate.

More on expectations for DataPortability.org

March 31, 2008 Leave a comment

There were a bunch of blog posts about what people think of the project’s scope and reach — with a variety of perspectives.  Check them out.

Brian Oberkirch

Bob Ngu 

Simon Whatley

David Recordon 

TechCrunch/Michael Arrington

Tony Effik

Marc Canter

John Breslin 

Chris Saad

Delivering data portability. Let’s start with managing expectations.

March 27, 2008 4 comments

From Mary Trigiani. Yesterday, professional blogger/communicator/producer/journalist Robert Scoble re-visited his personal frustration with his inability to move his personal contacts between networks, websites and, I guess, galaxies.

Mr Scoble was wondering what was taking so long — humorously referring to DataPortability.org as doing little more than PR and as shipping no standards. After that explosive [to me] point, he went on to explain that in asking the question, he has learned something. It’s worth reading his description. He inspired many thoughts, including the personal observations that follow here. Unfortunately, however, many agenda-driven folks have used his turning-point paragraph out of context. So I’d like to pick up where Mr Scoble leaves off.

But first, some disclaimers.

I’m writing from the blog of a startup whose main purpose in digital life is to help people collect, organize, search and share their digital content, whatever it is, wherever it is on the Web or on their hard drives. Data portability is us, although maybe not as commonly defined. foldier technology makes it possible to manage personal content through links to the sites that host it. We make data portable by making it accessible from one place — foldier — while leaving the content where it was created.

I’m an active member of DataPortability.org but I do not speak for the project here. I am weighing in on what I personally believe are misperceptions about the project — because I want the dialog to remain open, even if many of the folks sharing their perspectives do not command the bully pulpit on the same scale as Mr Scoble. [One of my Gods and Goddesses of Blogging.]

One. DataPortability.org is a volunteer, community project. It has attracted experts in all aspects of technology from every avenue of technology — established corporations, startups, hired guns, academics — as well as experts in business, competitive positioning and professional services. Yes, experts. Who work for a living. Who are doing this in their free time, or with the support of their families and employers, or both.

Two. DataPortability.org takes nothing for granted and does not adhere to any one gospel of portability. There has been marvelous work done by many organizations — also grassroots, not-for-profit and/or volunteer — in the effort to examine the multiple aspects of owning and porting personal data. No one organization, however, has been able to command the ongoing attention of the technology community until now. Personally, I think this project has done so because it was founded upon principles of utter transparency, reaching consensus out of disparate perspectives, and constant, two-way communication with all stakeholders [apparently, what a lot of folks would label, derisively, as PR].

Three. Warning — this is a PSA. Let’s stop demonizing PR and using “PR” in place of moron, lightweight or unproductive. As one who has been labeled, derisively, as a marketing chick — just because I am genetically programmed to practice the ancient Italian art of la bella figura – I am sick and tired of folks who make their living by how much PR they receive — not just what they say or, God forbid, the content of their characters — who still use “PR” or “marketing” as ways to describe what they perceive to be fluffy enterprises and individuals. So when DataPortability.org is relegated to the PR bin, not only are the experienced, skilled technologists being derided, so are the liberal artists who really do know how to deliver newsworthy messages, string together meaningful words, articulate real solutions and help insular little geographic clusters communicate with the rest of the world, where, guess what, their ultimate users live. While 90 percent of marketing functionaries are just looking for their next jobs, the other 10 percent add real value.

Four. DataPortability.org’s “deliverables” — can we use the word product, please? include cataloging the aforementioned vast amount of work that’s been done, capturing all the various perceptions of what it means to make data portable, and coming up with suggestions for how to create beautiful standards where there were none. Any code produced will strictly be for the use of stakeholders in examining their options — not for taking one position or another — or to help any one individual wage a personal war. Now, many of the folks who have been laboring in this vineyard for several years will tell you that they know what to do — and they will ask why no one is listening. See Point Two. Somehow, the stars have aligned in the Web 2.0 heavens at this moment to bring together a bunch of people who have — gasp — no agenda other than to explore how to make data portable in a way that respects everyone’s needs, rights and property and who have the ability to talk about it without feeling threatened or leveling personal criticisms at enemies. In fact, the vast majority of the people volunteering in this project don’t look at this as a war — they look at it as an intriguing puzzle or cipher. And something the tech community has to address for the benefit of its users. Those people out there in the rest of the world.

Five. This takes time. Believe it or not, when some of us sit down to address a task, we take at least fifteen minutes to think about it before we proclaim a “deliverable.” For a project like this, where opinions, products and experience are all over the map, literally, and where they haven’t been collected in a way that it could, much less has, reached the masses, it’s going to take time to get you to the solution for your contact-moving problem. I’m ecstatic that Mr Scoble used Dave Morin’s examples of what Facebook must contemplate. Multiply that by, I don’t know, 100?, and you have an idea of the scope of this endeavor.

DataPortability.org February report

March 10, 2008 Leave a comment

The dataportability.org report for last month just went live. It’s been an interesting experience to participate in the editorial process, especially since we were in the middle of shifting collaboration platforms. Click here to read the report.

Important weekend stories

February 24, 2008 Leave a comment

From Mary Trigiani:  Some reliable news and blog outlets are writing about Twine‘s upcoming announcement of another round of funding.  Congratulations to Twine!  At foldier, we believe that semantic features and applications will only extend the reach and utility of all networks — especially social.  It’s great that the investment tribe sees value in all the semantic-focused effort out here.

And, on the data portability front, technologists everywhere are sweetening the pot for the winning entry into the logo competition.  This illustrates how much the issue of portability touches every corner of the Internet.  I also think it’s demonstrating how good it feels to play nice.

Some tech blogs we read

February 21, 2008 Leave a comment

One day left to do your DataPortability video

February 19, 2008 Leave a comment

Grab your webcam and take five minutes to share what you think about the issue of data portability. Then post it on a video sharing site and tag it “DataPortabilityAndMe.” Here are some topics.

  • What does DataPortability mean to you?
  • How do you imagine DataPortability might change the way you use the web?
  • How would you explain the value of DataPortability to Vendors – those that store the data.
  • How would you explain the value of DataPortability to Users – those that create and own the data.
  • Ideally, what would you like to see from the DataPortability Project in the next 12 months? 24 months?
  • What else would you like to say? Make up a question and answer it!

Data portability and sustaining a tight focus

February 9, 2008 Leave a comment

From Mary TrigianiThis post at profy delves a bit more into the question of the best way to steer the workflow of the new Data Portability organization.  Cyndy Aleo-Carreira also cites J Trent Adams’ set of notes capturing the dialogue of Thursday evening’s meeting.

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