Monthly Archive for June, 2010

Announcing the Portability Policy

TechCrunch have been a big supporter of the DataPortability Project, which shows today with their encouragement for me to write a guest post on the Portability Policy, an initiative we announced today.

It’s exciting to see after all these years we are finally now reaching out to the world again, with something solid that people can rally behind. For years, we’ve been getting asked what people can do to show support for the philosophy of data portabiliy, but we’ve¬† been putting our heads down focussed on (necessary) things that made us fall off the map – like developing a sophisticated new governance model that is an innovation in itself (as virtual companies are still a new concept); the legal structure to become a non-profit; as well as the Portability Policy work itself which required hundreds of hours of research, discussion, and reflection.

If you’re interested in adopting a Portability Policy (read the above linked posts for more), you can do so very easily with a generator we are releasing today. Phil Wolff from the workgroup that developed this effort, also has a briefing pack and can help you understand what it is. Post a message on the community mailing list and we’ll respond to any issues you have.

Manipulating numbers that don’t mean anything

Erick Schonfeld wrote a post today saying all the hoopla over Facebook’s privacy isn’t justified. I disagree for two reasons.

1) Awareness.
When Facebook announced their new changes, I tweeted why the hell no one was complaining. Chris Saad and I then wrote one of the first (if not the first) posts that criticised the Facebook move. CNN referenced our post and the entire industry has now gone over the top complaining.

Why didn’t anyone from the major blogs critique the announcement immediately? Why the time lag? For the simple fact there wasn’t awareness – people hadn’t thought about it deeply. And to validate my point, check this recent exchange with a friend in Iran when I asked him how the people of Iran felt about the changes. He had no idea, and when he found out – he got annoyed.

2) The monopoly effect
I love Facebook as a service. But I will also admit, nothing compares to it – I love it for the sole fact it’s the best at what it does. If there was genuine competition with the company, that offered a compelling alternative – I wouldn’t feel as compelled to use it. They win me over due to great technology and user experience, but I’m not loyal to them because of that.

I think Facebook has some security right now because no one is in their class. But they will be matched one day, and I think the reaction would be very different. Rather than tolerate it, people would move away. And whilst Facebook can lock my data and think they own me like I’m their slave, the reality is my data is useless with time – what they need is permanent access to me, and to have that, they need to ensure my relationships with them is permanently ahead of the curve.

Guest post on TechCrunch

I wrote my first ever guest post. And to think only a few months ago, I was getting high fives from everyone on the surprise coverage on the startup bus from TechCrunch. You can read it here: http://techcrunch.com/2010/06/05/privacy-failures-facebook-dna/

As for the bus, I’m really sorry for the lack of posting – I hope to correct that. In better news, I’ve got some exciting plans for next year that will take it to the next level (feedback so far: “you’re crazy” which is the first idea – by the fifth one people are laughing at how crazy I am).

Looking forward to sharing that once I start moving ahead on that, which I will announce at the end of my series on the startup bus (as I promised).