Tag Archives: dataportability

SemTech sessions related to data portability / IEEE Computing article on portable data

It’s been a busy few weeks for DataPortability.org with announcements from many sides including Google (Friend Connect), Facebook (Connect) and MySpace (Data Availability). Next week, the Semantic Technologies Conference will be held in San Jose, California, and you can bet that discussions around the need for portable data will be scattered throughout.

  • On Monday, Stefan, Uldis and I will present a tutorial (which will also cover data portability aspects of ontologies such as SIOC and FOAF) entitled “The Future of Social Networks: The Need for Semantics“.
  • On Monday evening at 8 PM, there will be an informal meetup of some DataPortability.org people in the Fairmont Hotel’s Lobby Lounge, so if you have an interest in data portability, feel free to join us.
  • On Tuesday at 7:15 AM, I will chair a “Data Portability Interest Group” meeting. Attendees will include Chris Saad, Daniela Barbosa, Henry Story, and yours truly.
  • Then on Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 PM, Jim Benedetto, Senior Vice President of Technology with MySpace will talk about “Data Availability at MySpace“.

Last month, IEEE Computing published an article by Karen Heyman entitled “The Move to Make Social Data Portable“. I was interviewed for the piece along with Michael Pick (social media expert), Duncan Riley (b5media), John McCrea (Plaxo), Craig Knoblock (ISI), Chris Saad (DataPortability.org), Dave Treadwell (Microsoft), Kevin Marks (Google), Chris Kelly (Facebook), Marc Canter (Broadband Mechanics), and Bill Washburn (OpenID). Technology solutions mentioned included RSS, OpenID, OAuth, microformats, RDF, APML, SIOC and FOAF. Here are my original answers to Karen’s questions.

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DataPortability lunch meetup in London / OpenSocial hackathon


I attended the DataPortability lunch meetup in London on Sunday (see link to some photos above), where I met up with DP enthusiasts including Tom Morris, Tony Haile, Chris Saad (founder), Cassandra Shanks, Imp, Julian Bond, Christian Scholz, and Sokratis Papafloratos. We had some great food and interesting discussions, including DP scenarios, the scope of DataPortability (is it more than just the Social Web?), SIOC, forthcoming announcements, and more…

Tom, Christian and I went to the OpenSocial hackathon at the BT centre afterwards. I spoke with organiser Michael Mahemoff briefly, and Dan Peterson invited us to attend the forthcoming Google I/O event in May. I also listened in to Dan Brickley and Cassie discuss connections between FOAF and the OpenSocial APIs. (Unfortunately, I missed the presentations which were on in the morning before I arrived in London.)

Tales from the SIOC-o-sphere #7

20080403a.png It’s been three months since my last round-up of all things SIOC-ed, so here is entry number seven in the series:

Previous SIOC-o-sphere articles:

#6 http://sioc-project.org/node/310
#5 http://sioc-project.org/node/294
#4 http://sioc-project.org/node/272
#3 http://sioc-project.org/node/271
#2 http://sioc-project.org/node/138
#1 http://sioc-project.org/node/79

Kingsley remixes my DataPortability slides as "Data Accessibility and Me: Introducing SIOC, FOAF and the Linked Data Web"

Kingsley Idehen told me on IRC that he remixed my presentation on DataPortability and SIOC from yesterday as Data Accessibility and Me: Introducing SIOC, FOAF and the Linked Data Web.

I’ve never had my slides remixed before, I’m honoured! Here’s the new version:

Danja rocks with his "DataPortability and me" video / some slides I've made for DP+SIOC

Wow! Danny Ayers has made the best video I’ve seen for the “DataPortability and me” competition, which ends today:

Travelling on the train to Dublin and back this morning, I gathered and made some slides for future presentations on DataPortability and SIOC:

(De-)centralised me

TechCrunch‘s Michael Arrington has an interesting article today about the “centralised me”, a follow-up to Loic Le Meur‘s post about wanting to re-centralise his decentralised social “map”. Here is a picture I drew some time back showing the decentralised me:


I previously talked about how SIOC and FOAF can be used to represent this, and how this representation of people’s decentralised content is tied to the networks formed via social objects. (See also this paper.)

This is certainly something that fits with the ideas of DataPortability. I think people may have different requirements, including:

  • I may want to centralise my stuff on my own service, like Loic outlined.
  • I may want to see my stuff on a third-party service providing an aggregate view, like FriendFeed.
  • I may want to move all my stuff from multiple services to one third-party service.
  • I may just want to move the stuff I have on one service to another (e.g., move all my blog posts, comments, friends, etc. from WordPress.com to Acme Blog Service).

DataPortability, Microsoft's Contacts API and OpenSocial.org

20080326a.png (No, the picture I created on the right ISN’T the new DataPortability logo; I totally missed out on the closing date, but it will serve as an image for this blog post. There have been some very cool submissions for the competition however.)

There were two interesting announcements yesterday in the portability space. The first was from Microsoft, announcing that they would be “working with Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, Tagged and LinkedIn to exchange functionally-similar Contacts APIs, allowing us to create a safe, secure two-way street for users to move their relationships between our respective services” (Contacts APIs provide contact data portability). The second was from Google, Yahoo! and MySpace, jointly announcing that an OpenSocial Foundation is to be formed as a non-profit entity (OpenSocial provides social application portability). Unfortunately, there is still some confusion regarding exactly what data portability functionality OpenSocial will offer (if any), and at the moment the consensus seems to be that DataPortability and OpenSocial aren’t as related as previously thought.

DataPortability (including Microsoft’s move in this area) is mainly about users being able to have portable data (profiles, identities, content like photos, videos, discussion posts) that they can move between the services and sites that they trust and choose to use. (See Uno de Waal’s interesting post on how the Microsoft Invite2Messenger service allows you to get your Facebook friends’ e-mail addresses in plain text.)

OpenSocial on the other hand is more about “gadget” portability, where social applications can be deployed across a variety of social networking sites. As summarised by Julian Bond, OpenSocial consists of a gadget API (for gadget programmers) and a standard for site owners to implement these gadgets on their own sites. The part of OpenSocial related to DataPortability is a REST API, details of which are a bit vague right now. Not to be confused with OpenSocial (although the similar names make this difficult), the Social Graph API from Google is more related to DataPortability as it indexes semantic data from many social networking sites like Hi5, MySpace, LiveJournal, Twitter, etc. and allows users to bring their social graph with them when they sign up for a new site that supports the API.

Apart from the lack of intersection between Microsoft (plus affiliate Facebook) and Google, a good few companies are in multiple “camps” (DataPortability, Contacts APIs, OpenSocial), as shown by the Venn diagram I drew below:


Marc Canter and others have pointed out that although the Contact APIs from Microsoft are not open in themselves, at least the APIs seem to export as much data as they can import. Marc also says that Microsoft (and other big companies) may not be explicitly following the actions (e.g. the technical recommendations) of the DataPortability initiative, but rather claims that it would hurt them if they didn’t open up and go along with some portable data efforts given the current climate and the tide of users in favour of this.

For users to have true data portability, there needs to be some consensus on both the APIs and the formats needed to transfer / represent this portable data. It may be that a number of APIs and formats are required for different scenarios. The Semantic Web is an ideal means for representing the data to be ported from social websites, in that is well suited (using vocabularies like SIOC and FOAF) to represent how people and all kinds of objects on these sites are connected together (documents, discussions, meetups, places, interests, media files – whatever). Of course other data formats may be used, but most importantly, it would be a waste of time to come up with a bunch of new formats for representing the data that needs to be portable, because a lot of work has been done on how to best provide interoperable, reusable and linked data through efforts like the Semantic Web, AtomPub and the microformats community.

I’ll be attending the DataPortability Lunch Meetup in London on the 6th April 2008 if anyone there feels like a chat about some of these topics…

Related posts:

Semantic Web for Dummies

20080220a.jpg I referenced this on the SIOC-Dev mailing list recently, and when I pasted it on the DataPortability.org steering group chat this morning (in parallel with our first phone conference), Drummond Reed suggested I blog it. It’s originally from MIT’s Stefan Marti:

XML customised tags, like:
+ RDF relations, in triples, like:
(Nena) (is_dog_of) (Kimiko/Stefan)
+ Ontologies / hierarchies of concepts, like:
mammal -> canine -> Cotton de Tulear -> Nena
+ Inference rules like:
If (person) (owns) (dog), then (person) (cares_for) (dog)
= Semantic Web!

(Picture by Duncan Hull.)

DataPortability.org, web standards, SIOC and FOAF

Leo Sauermann has written an e-mail to the public DataPortability.org mailing list suggesting that the DataPortability.org initiative also takes W3C’s web standards like RDF into account, as well as considering existing efforts like FOAF and SIOC for data portability on the social web. The initiative’s chairperson Chris Saad has indicated that they will put all related communities and standards in context, including RDF (and I assume FOAF and SIOC too).

As co-founder of the SIOC project, I’ve recently been evangelising the fact that SIOC can be used to provide a representation of all content items created by a person (via their user accounts) on various social media sites, and this can be nicely combined with the FOAF profile of that person who holds the associated user accounts (click on the picture below, and see our Internet Computing article for more).


In the image, Bob holds user accounts on various social websites (two shown for clarity, but here’s another view), and via those accounts he creates content items (usually within containers of some sort, e.g., in a bookmark folder, personal weblog, message board or image gallery) on those sites. He should be able to port not only his social graph (in this case, his connections to Alice and Carol), but also his personal containers / sets of content items and perhaps even associated comment replies. The vocabulary terms are shown in dark grey: foaf:knows, sioc:User, etc.

It’d be great if we can get some of the DataPortability.org people to come to the WebCamp workshop on Social Network Portability in Cork in March. There are some valuable contributors to the initiative so far including Chris Saad, Ashley Angell, Paul Jones, Chris Messina, Ben Metcalfe, Daniela Barbosa, Phill Morle, Ian Forrester, Shashank Tripathi, Kristopher Tate, Paul Keen, Brian Suda, Emily Chang, Danny Ayers, Marc Canter, Jeremy Keith, Peter Saint-Andre, Robyn Tippins, and Robert Scoble.