Flushing The Data Portaloo: The Looming Portability Squareoff With Users

How close are we to true data portability? It depends who is asking the question as to how it gets answered.

As one of the chief catalysts for the current wave of discussion and (some) action, Chris Saad, points out none of the current high profile implementations are completely true to the overall understanding of portability.

Writing on his blog, Chris sees Facebook Connect, Google’s Friend Connect and MySpace’s Data Availability as important first steps. They are the first shots across the bow to the industry that a data portability battle is coming.

That battle will involve a squareoff between the user: me, you – and the networks collectively.

I like Chris’s address book analogy:

DataPortability is about a different social contract – a contract more closely resembling the one found in the email address book.

My address book is my own. When you email me, or when you communicate with me, you are revealing something about yourself. You define a social contract with me that means that I can use your information to contact you whenever and however I like – I could even re-purpose my address book for all manor of other things.

If, however, you violate that trust, either directly or indirectly, you break the social contract and I will tend to not deal with you again. We can not perfectly engineer these sorts of contracts into systems – we can try, but in the end social behavior will be the last mile in enforcing user rights.

Also, the dichotomy between who ‘owns’ the data is false. In my mind there is shared ownership. While you use a service, it is a shared custodianship of the data. By giving the service your data you’re getting something else in return – utility. In many cases free utility.

You personally, however, have shared (and overriding) ownership over your data. This has been declared as universally true by all the vendors I’ve spoken to.

The question is not one of ownership though, it’s one of control. If you own your data but can’t control it as you choose then ownership is a mute point. Further, the question is not one of if you own it, but rather how much of it you own.

For example, do you own your friends profile data since you have access to it via the social tool you are using? Or have they only granted you access within that social context and under that social contract. These considerations blur the analogy of the purely personal address book.

So where does this leave us. The industry continues to engage in discussion and analyse the meaning of both data portability and the current implementations. As long as this dialogue continues the looming squareoff will remain just that – looming. We are in a honeymoon period in which users are coming to grips with their rights and freedoms and comparing the various networks to determing whether and to what extent they are being violated.

For now, data portability continues to have relevancy and I do not believe our rights have been flushed away. However, I would encourage all players to listen very carefully to the conversation going on.

As I’ve said many times: the Internet giveth, the Internet taketh away – and it can do both with blinding speed. This is especially relevant for Facebook, given the current meme around its intentions started by Umair Haque.

UPDATE: Robert Scoble has a sound analysis of the situation, after an initial misunderstanding on his part. Have a read, the best part is him putting his participation on the Gillmor Gang on mute, having a shower and then coming back on the show. I know it’s been hot in the Bay area the last few days, but this is hilarious and about all the GG seems good for – cooling off.

[Picture courtesy of willgrant]

Metarand Unplugged: Matthew Colebourne, CEO of coComment On Markets As Conversations

In this session of Metarand Unplugged, we talk with the CEO of Geneva based coComment, Matthew Colebourne.

As an aggregator of millions of comments across the web, Matt has a good understanding of how brands are beginning to grok that markets are conversations and that there is a huge opportunity to build deeper brand engagement through conversations.

Stream the mp3:


Stream the Session in Quicktime:


Metarand Unplugged: Chris Saad Evangelizes DataPortability

Chris Saad, the CEO of Faraday Media and a Co-Founder of the DataPortability Group, talks about the Group’s journey over the past few months…from logo wars through to an impressive impact on the technology majors like Google and Microsoft.

We also asked him about the amount of time he is spending on DataPortability versus his other projects and he gives a hint of some interesting Faraday developments.

Lastly we discussed how the mobile landscape interfaces with DataPortability’s roadmap.

Stream the session in Quicktime:

Click here

Microsoft Provides Mesh for Apps/Data, But Fails On Interoperability

I’ve covered DataPortability. I’m experimenting with Friendfeed. I share apps across my Macbook Pro and iPhone.

However, I still feel there is a long way to go before we reach true seamless interoperability of data, connections, applications and devices.

And so I am very excited by Microsoft’s preview beta launch of Live Mesh, a feed-centric programming model.

The promise is that:

Live Mesh puts you at the center of your digital world, seamlessly connecting you to the people, devices, programs, and information you care about – available wherever you happen to be.

That is a very noble sentiment. I applaud Ray Ozzie’s vision.

But wait a minute – this only works on devices running Microsoft software. I fully understand that they are only at beta. I also hear their plaintive cry, but we are bringing out Mac and mobile versions later this year.

Fail. They should have built in true interoperability from the get go, across all devices – period. Doing so in stages can only lead to a Here, there, everywhere patchwork.

UPDATE: Former Microsoftie Robert Scoble has gushed his views out. Yes I also like the dialogic RSS capability, by Robert you sum up why its a fail before its even out of the blocks:

Mac support? Coming in the future. Nokia support? Unclear. iPhone support? Ask Steve Jobs (translation: will be very limited due to Apple’s complete control of that platform). Firefox support? Yes! Linux support? What’s that?

[Via TechCrunch]

Peerfluentiality: How To Rank The Success Of A Social Media App

I’ve been pondering the right algorithm for measuring the success of a social media app – what may be called the apps ability to incite peerfluence. I first came across this term courtesy of Stowe Boyd via Twitter and also note that Social Media‘s Seth Goldstein used it in his company’s ad:tech SF press release as well.

UPDATE: Turns out that peerfluence is a registered trademark of a company called peerFluence – see comment below from their CMO, Bill Franchey. I’ve also had a call from their CEO, Darren Johnston and we are playing phone tag – I’m keen to hear more about what they do 🙂 . To clear up any misconceptions, real or otherwise, my point above re Social Media should not be construed as inferring any relationship between these two companies. In addition, I’ll change the word I use from peerfluence to peerinfluence for the rest of this post.

Peerinfluence can be defined as the ability for one person’s actions to influence their peers. Some folks have a high level of peerinfluence, like the inimitable Robert Scoble – I witnessed this first hand when he blogged about Yoick. Other people have become increasingly peerinfluential, such as Chris Saad, the founder of the Dataportability Group.

I believe that we can call a social media app’s ability to incite peerinfluence as its level of peerfluentiality. This is on the one hand a metric of the app’s ability to attract people who already have a high level of peerinfluence and get them to spread the word about it. On the other hand it is also a metric of how many times and for how long the average person spreads the word.

In determining the peerfluentiality ranking of an app there are a number of factors that need to be taken into account:

* Installs – how many installs in total across all networks and platforms

* Networks – how many networks the app is running on

* Platforms – is it running across social networks, the wider web and mobile

* Network effect – basic level (is there simple cross referral “house ads” between disparate apps,)

* Network effect – advanced level (does the network consist of strategically interconnected apps that apply the same game metaphor, storyline or tap the same demographic; are the cross referrals more subtle, eg the Zynga toolbar)

* DAU – of all the installs what percentage are accessing the app on a daily basis

* Engagement – how often are users accessing the app, how many page clicks are they making inside the app, do you have groups, forums or other means for users to talk, share, interact with others around/about the app.

A mix of these factors will determine the peerfluentiality of an app and some of these factors will be bigger drivers than others.

For example, we have seen that simply having a high install base does not mean sustainably high DAU. In fact, many apps that initially attracted lots of users are now flatlining.

Similarly, purely because an app is highly engaging does not necessarily mean it is initially sticky – if the user onramp is too complicated the chances are an installer is less likely to refer it to his or her friends and those who do have it referred to them may not get to the point where it becomes engaging for them.

As we formulate more data around social media apps I expect to be able to tweak this algorithm and seek out optimal peerfluentiality.

The Life Media Dashboard: Is It Here Yet?


There is a really interesting meme going on at the moment and it’s captured in Michael Arrington’s blog post heading: Friendfeed, The Centralized Me, and Data Portability. It relates to the tug we all have for some order to the chaotic mix of services we flit between as we try to keep up with what is happening around us. Loic Le Meur sums this up well.

I envy the ordered world of someone who only checks their email once or twice a day and reads the newspaper over a cup of coffee –  but I also totally could not do that — I need my fix of news to be coming in from disparate sources hours and sometimes days before it hits the press, I need to know what my key influencers, colleagues and friends are doing as they do it.

What I don’t need is to have to log into a whole heap of sites in order to get this constant fix.

One day I’ll have One Life Media Dashboard for my web interactions.

The question at present is whether I put all my trust into a site like FriendFeed to provide me with that dashboard. From what I know is coming downtrack I’d say that FriendFeed is headed the right way, but there are other sites that do a far better job of bringing all my feeds (used in the broadest sense possible) together. More on that once I can release info 🙂

Will Data Portability become redundant as a result of these sites popping up?

I doubt it. They are removing a problem (aggregating my feeds) and DP will serve to make this a more seamless proposition for the aggregators. DP will also remove the big leap of faith and trust we currently need to “put all our eggs in the one basket” with a FriendFeed type service as our single Life Media Dashboard.

[Mindmap courtesy of Brian Solis]