Now We're Talking: Peered Data Portability

Excellent, excellent new post by Data Portability Workgroup founder, Chris Saad on the future of data portability and why Open Standards is only the means, and not the focal-point end. Essentially, as Saad points out, what we conceive of as data portability right now through Facebook Connect (data portability on training wheels) is a hub-and-spoke model that ultimately puts the power and control over the accessibility of one's data in centralized, commercialized hands. As Chris explains:

"The problem, however, is that it (the hub-and-spoke model, i.e. Facebook Connect) has a central point of control, failure and commercialization. A monopoly, or market confusion, is inevitable. At the very least this model leads to reduced innovation along the connections. Can you imagine if there was only one Web server? One FTP server? One Email server? Companies like Google would have certainly never been allowed to exist. They might have been sued by the Acme Web Server company early in their life much like Power.com is being sued by Facebook today."

Now, my argument is that this centralized data portability might be a necessary baby step, for now, while consumers as a whole (and not just the early-adopter dp-geek few) become used to the idea of accessing their data (files, pictures, friend connections, etc) from various touch points across the Web (help them get over the potential "creepy" factor)...but ultimately, this is not the open, socially contextual (and ultimately semantic) Web we all envision and hope for.

However, as Saad illustrates for us below, the end goal is of course a decentralized social graph, accessible on and from any application or vendor that a user may so choose...and that this "Peered Data Portability" model is most analogous to the internet itself. Indeed, as we say here at Socialized, that data portability will become embedded into the very fabric of the Web itself is precisely what we mean by "the Web IS social." And Peered Data Portability would actualize this in a most fundamental and intrinsic way.


bryanf said...

I'm less concerned about the market consequences of a central authentication authority and much more concerned with the technical ramifications. In particular, it introduces a single point of failure, so if Facebook is down you can't login to any other sites. Also, it introduces a single point of compromise, so if Facebook's authentication system is ever compromised the Bad People will have access to all your accounts everywhere.

I don't have sufficient trust in Facebook's stability and security to rely on them for accessing other sites.

alisa leonard-hansen said...

@bryanf yep, you make a good point...and ultimately, those technical ramifications would in turn affect the market

Chris said...

Thanks for the great write up :)

Anonymous said...

While we're all hanging for our future and want it yesterday, I believe what Facebook has in short term advantage it will not maintain over the long haul, purely because the structure of its model is diametrically opposed to the way the web functions at its core.

There's a great video I saw...hmm...where...here --> http://etchgroup.com/?p=149 which goes through the history of the development of the web. The pic of Facebook at the center of DP above looks alot like the web does in these videos (in the 60's...).

Say it with me: open beats closed.