The Blog

Take Your Data and Run Like Hell?

In social media on Tuesday, 8 January 2008 at 16:54

Not likely. But big news today that’s likely to shape the social networking infrastructure to come.

From Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb:

The DataPortability Workgroup announced this morning that representatives from both Google and Facebook are joining its ranks. The group is working on a variety of projects to foster an era of Data Portability – where users can take their data from the websites they use to reuse elsewhere and where vendors can leverage safe cross-site data exchange for a whole new level of innovation. Good bye customer lock-in, hello to new privacy challenges. If things go right, today could be a very important day in the history of the internet.”

I think Marshall’s absolutely right. So is TechCrunch’s Duncan Riley: “Today Facebook has taken the first step towards open standards and data portability, and despite those previous gripes they should be congratulated for it.”

But if 08 Jan 08 is a day to remember, should we expect to see a stampede of Facebook users ditch the service for greener social media pastures? I doubt it.

If indeed the big guys walk the walk they’re talking — a big if — the real impact of today’s announcement will be a dramatic increase in the number of people behaving socially. Think of all those Yahoo! Mail and Gmail users seamlessly making their contacts the center for their social own social experiences, many (if not most) for the very first time. All the Facebook-mania aside, social media is just getting warmed up, and it’s an exciting time for everyone.

But even if Facebook comes through and opens the garden, I wouldn’t expect anything resembling a flight of users. Facebook became Facebook in no small part by delivering a great user experience, and so long as it continues to make people happy, people will flock to it, data potability or not.

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