The Data Portability Working Group is announcing today that key people from LinkedIn, Flickr, SixApart and Twitter are joining the group. These new names are just the most visible part of a groundswell of new interest in the group coming since this week's news that key players at Google and Facebook have joined.

LinkedIn, the social networking code-word for "business," is a great addition to the discussion, lest anyone think these aren't serious matters.

The new additions include Steve Ganz, Senior Web Developer at LinkedIn, Matthew Rothenberg, Product Strategy and Management at Flickr, David Recordon, the point-person for all things OpenID related at SixApart, and Blain Cook, a developer at Twitter.

Heavy Hitters

Like the individuals from Google and Facebook who joined the working group earlier this week, these aren't random people who just happen to work at these major companies. Brad Fitzpatrick, the inventor of LiveJournal and one of the primary minds behind OpenID, the concept of the Social Graph and the Google-led OpenSocial platform, joined from Google. Benjamin Ling, who runs the entire Facebook platform, the crown jewel of the company, joined from Facebook.

Ganz, from LinkedIn, presumably has the strong support of founder Reid Hoffman as well. Hoffman is one of the most articulate top executives you'll find regarding data portability issues. Update: Check this out, LInkedIn even posted about the Data Portability issue on their blog today - wouldn't it be great if Google did that?

That said, all of these people have just joined a working group. Now the real work begins. History offers many examples of working groups that went nowhere. Odds are never good that big company's are going to open up and things in this world are going to get better! But we can hope, cheer and cajole.

Along with the unconfirmed rumor that Google, IBM and Verisign are in talks to join the OpenID Foundation - today's growth of the Data Portability work group offers more hope that 2008 could be a year of substantial change regarding user control over data and privacy. Here's hoping the big guys can bring market share and experience without overwhelming the innovation and user-centric motivation of some of the smaller players in these discussions.