Home Open Web Foundation Launches to Do the Dirty Work for Data Portability

Open Web Foundation Launches to Do the Dirty Work for Data Portability

A new nonprofit organization called the Open Web Foundation is launching this morning with backing from some of the biggest companies on the web and the involvement of some of the web’s most innovative individuals. Organized in as a decentralized community of developers, in the fashion of the Apache Software Foundation, the OWF will serve as a placeholder for all the legal dirty work that needs to happen in order for data portability to become a reality.

Specifically, the Foundation will work with all the vendors in this space to secure Creative Commons copyrights and promises not to sue each other over the use of data protocols. Think OpenID, OAuth, OEmbed and lots more still in the works. In some ways this dreadfully unsexy work, but in other ways it’s just the opposite.

As Scott Kveton, a participant in the the OWF and the Chair of the OpenID foundation, explained to us, the biggest companies on the web “need to know the lineage of code before they are willing to use it, so they know they aren’t going to get sued.”

Who’s behind all of this? The group is going to great pains to de-emphasize the big names involved, but at the bottom of this post are lists of individuals and companies involved in the launch of the Foundation. The group says that much of the work that needs to be done is already underway in respective protocol working groups, but that the Foundation will serve as a placeholder and gathering point.

Who’s Going to Be Making Decisions?

If someone’s going to be taking legal control over these technologies, who exactly are they? The Foundation says its board will be voted on by members in August elections, but that membership is still being worked out. We hope that the whole process will be transparent and collaborative. We suspect that some people may complain that it is not, but we think there is a high probability that everything is going to be ok.

What About the Data Portability Working Group?

The much celebrated Data Portability Working Group has become a subject of heated debate. Critics allege that the group has been too headline driven, too focused on big companies that don’t end up offering meaningful participating and too driven by one individual, co-founder Chris Saad.

Instead of telling Saad to go eat nails, though, the Open Web Foundation is positioning itself as a complementary organization. DataPortability.org can handle the evangelism and the Open Web Foundation will do the behind the scenes work to help developers bring code to market. Not completely behind the scenes, but you know what they mean.

We hope everyone can play nice and work together instead of doing things like publicly attacking individuals or spoiling each others’ announcements.

We’re excited about this new organization. There’s been a clear need and demand for it and we wish them the best of luck in helping make our data portability dreams come true.

For an in depth look at why we believe data portabilty is in the interests of vendors, see our post Towards a Value-Added User Data Economy. For a user’s perspective, watch for a forthcoming post here.

The First List of Supporters


* Alex Russell

* Anand Iyer

* Angus Logan

* Ben Laurie

* Blaine Cook

* Brady Forrest

* Chris Messina

* Danese Cooper

* Dave Morin

* David Recordon

* Dawn Foster

* DeWitt Clinton

* Dirk-Willem van Gulik

* Eran Hammer-Lahav

* Geir Magnusson

* John McCrea

* Joichi Ito

* Phil Wolff

* Raj Mata

* Ross Turk

* Scott Kveton

* Tim O’Reilly

Supporting our effort

Our efforts are supported by a number of companies and organizations including:


* Facebook

* Google

* MySpace

* O’Reilly

* Plaxo

* Six Apart

* Sourceforge

* Vidoop

* Yahoo!

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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