Want my data? State your business!

January 2nd 2008

Techcrunch has a ‘maybe’ story on Plaxo being for sale.

For the last year, all we hear from Plaxo is adoption of open standards. Advocacy of open standards even.

They have a practical and useful service, although there’s a lot of room for improvement. So I went on and trusted them with all my contact and calendar information, as with my feeds and other profile information. And encouraged people I know, people who trust me, to do the same.

I felt really outraged that a company that, in such a short period of time, could win your trust with saying and doing good things (OpenID, Microformats, conversation with the community, OpenSocial, etc.) and then could go on and produce such a scary trick. Good news is Plaxo has this post about their position on the Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web.

So there’s hope that the people buying Plaxo will respect this. I’m still wary and with reason. Why would they put themselves for sale with my data as an asset? And like themselves say, they are a true exception on this matter. What’s happening with my data in all the social silos? I have accepted Terms that state that I’m actually offering it (Facebook is but an example). But really, shouldn’t we be raising our expectations?

We should. This year, 2008, will be the year where we seriously tackle open data. This I demand: that not only I own what’s rightfully mine, but also that I know what’s happening with my data inside your silo and what will happen to it if you sell your assets to someone else. By the end of the year, if I don’t have answers to these questions, you can keep whatever I gave you but you’ll hear of me no more. Because by the end of the year we’ll have some serious alternatives to what you’re offering. Customers will be Kings, period. Want my data? State your business!

Happy new year.

Update: Robert Scoble was banned from Facebook and is joining the dataportability.org project. It seems that he was running a script, which is forbidden, aimed at sucking back all his social graph data. Facebook’s warning email is funny: delete that info that belongs to us or suffer.

Update #2: Scoble revealed what he was up to on Facebook: he was testing a new feature on Plaxo Pulse along with other bloggers and journalists (one of which he seems to suspect of alerting Facebook, which puts into perspective the automated email he received). Michael Arrington pretty much patronizes the whole story (although he did co-author the above mentioned Bill of Rights) and Scoble, reinstated in FB, answers back to criticism. The open data subject is hotter and more attention is given to dataportability.org. Moral: fight for your rights, helps to be the under the limelight? Interesting 2008 kickoff.

Update #3: Still don't know more about Plaxo being for sale. Their move with Facebook is certainly bold. The Techcrunch story followed by the editor's opinion are interesting facts. Waiting for statements on these, this all reinforces my opinion, here expressed.

Update #4, January 8th, 08: Facebook, Plaxo and Google join the dataportability.org effort :)