Data Portability Working Group, confirmed to me this morning that Microsoft's David Treadwell, a VP at Windows Live, will be joining the organization. Microsoft is expected to make a formal announcement in the coming days. News first leaked out via a shadowy post at Computerworld this morning.Chris Saad, Chairman of the
The Working Group aims to foster standard protocols for users to port their identities, friends and digital assets from one site online to another, as they see fit. See the explanatory video at the end of this post for another explanation of the general concepts. Still another good explanation can be found in John Battelle's excellent post earlier this month on how companies should compete on quality of service more than data lock-in.
The group made headlines earlier this month when key individuals from Google and Facebook joined. We at ReadWriteWeb believe that data portability will be one of the defining issues of 2008 and included resources concerning the subject in our 2008 Toolkit.
Microsoft's joining the group is an event of sufficiently complex historical meaning that I'm hesitant to try and interpret it here. Microsoft has both been the ultimate example of lock-in and also an important force behind other open standards efforts on the web, including OpenID. Though no fan of Microsoft, I am consistently excited about what the Live team in particular does. I'll look for analysis of this and future news about implementation at Live from my favorite source on the topic, LiveSide.
Where's the beef so far?
One of the most frequent criticisms the working group has faced in its short history is that it is all talk and no action. I asked founder and Chairman Chris Saad about this critique and he said the following:
"There's tonnes of beef - all the [contributing] standards groups have done excellent work already. We're just helping the mainstream catch up."
Saad also pointed to the group's timeline, titled A list of significant events leading to a Data Portability enabled Internet.
You can expect a lot more discussion and news to come from these quarters in the coming months.
DataPortability - Connect, Control, Share, Remix from Smashcut Media on Vimeo.