Data Portability

In January, Facebook disabled the account of tech blogger Richard Scoble. His attempt to export his Facebook contacts into Microsoft Outlook violated Facebook’s terms of service.

Web 2.0 experts say the aborted download may have raised the competitive hairs on Facebook’s virtual neck given Scoble’s status in the blogosphere and accumulated 5,000 Facebook contacts.

The network “certainly would consider Scoble a competitor in trying to scrape information,” said Anthony Bradley, a managing vice president with Gartner, located in Stamford, Conn. “Facebook has a vested interest in keeping social graph data to itself. It gives it advantage in appealing to advertisers.”

The scuffle brought data portability onto the radar screens of everyday consumers who voraciously consume social community offerings.

Data portability has been an issue for a long time among dedicated techies. “Many smart and dedicated people have been quietly working on the problem for many years,” said Chris Saad, the South Brisbane, Australia-based co-founder and chairperson of DataPortability.org. “Robert’s experience with Facebook and the presence of the DataPortability Project as an outreach and evangelism group brought the issue to a head though.”

Database professionals leveraged Scoble’s online rants to excite the general public about its ownership of contacts and profiles built through online communities. That the average Web user’s attention will not dwell on data portability does not matter. The sites already are re-examining their business models.

“One of the main reasons end users don’t care about [Scoble’s] level of data portability is because…


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