FW: Thoughts on DataPortability

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Aaron Cheung

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May 12, 2008, 12:45:49 AM5/12/08
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Dear All,
 
and raised several valid points.. in particular, I'd strongly echo with the ATOM mention, and
note of "the powers that be" mention.. that's, presumably, us?
 
Not that we should or could do it better.. but how things are presented, particularly things that
are tagged official, or look pretty official, deserves some tighter scrutiny... eg, tumblr as the
*official* blog, just as an example.
 
Regards,
Aaron.
 
 

Chris Saad

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May 12, 2008, 2:29:44 AM5/12/08
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It is a great post indeed Aaron,

I have a personal response here: http://chrissaad.wordpress.com/2008/05/12/responses-to-dataportability-questions/

Chris
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Aaron Cheung

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May 12, 2008, 2:45:20 AM5/12/08
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Chris, thanks for the note.. and the thoughts would certainly raise other related questions like, other than ATOM, how about OpenSocial, for example.. which would be more like a topic for another group.. Regards, Aaron.

Julian Bond

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May 12, 2008, 3:26:14 AM5/12/08
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Aaron Cheung <a...@ydrive.com> Mon, 12 May 2008 14:45:20

>Chris, thanks for the note.. and the thoughts would certainly raise
>other related questions like, other than ATOM, how about OpenSocial,
>for example.. which would be more like a topic for another group..

This particular bit of the debate is not about whether other standards
or communities are useful to data portability. It's about which logos
make it onto the home page. Close to the home page there really needs to
be 3 lists of things that support, and are supported by, DP.
- Open Standards eg. OpenID
- Open Communities eg. DiSo
- Open Organisations eg. MySpace (Ahem! Well, companies that have issued
a press release in support of DP then)

Putting all that on the home page is probably a mistake.

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Julian Bond

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May 12, 2008, 3:31:10 AM5/12/08
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Aaron Cheung <a...@ydrive.com> Mon, 12 May 2008 12:45:49

>Not that we should or could do it better.. but how things are
>presented, particularly things that
>are tagged official, or look pretty official, deserves some tighter
>scrutiny... eg, tumblr as the
>*official* blog, just as an example.

I'm really uncomfortable with "Official Blog" on the home page linking
to http://dataportability.tumblr.com/

1) It's not a blog. It's a feed of bookmarks.
2) Only one person has control over it.
3) Official? What the hell does that mean?

Don't get me wrong, http://dataportability.tumblr.com/ is a great
personal initiative from Chris and it should be encouraged. But no way
is it an "Official Blog".

Christian Scholz / Tao Takashi (SL)

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May 12, 2008, 10:36:10 AM5/12/08
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Hi!

To me it also seems that some problems stem from some viewpoint of
some communities that we sort of do a land grab.
Like we come out of nothing but carry the mandate to solve the data
portability problem while others are already working
on it or related things. So I wonder if we should also think about
revising our mission a bit.

In the end IMHO the most important part is conversation. Be it with
web devs in a more grass roots effort or with companies.
I actually doubt that those companies really have given us a mandate
to solve the DP problem for them (by issueing a press release)
because then they need to be more active or they will do something
different anyway, like FB). Neither anybody else can give us
a mandate.

That being said I would like to see DP more as sort of a think tank
and an institution which raises the awareness of the problem
(which seems to be working quite well). That means that maybe having a
definite set of Best Practices is not such a good idea and
talking about trustmarks is neither. Maybe we should more talk about
proposals or recommendations which eventually will invite
more people to participare in the discussion instead of fighting us.
What will end in the end will probably be a mix of everything anyway
and only real life examples will show what will work and what won't.

So these are my $0.02 from a somewhat external perspecitive as I am
neither active in the other communities nor sitting in SF
or close to to experience that closely what actually happens there.

-- Christian


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Paul Trevithick

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May 12, 2008, 12:37:02 PM5/12/08
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Christian wrote:
>
> To me it also seems that some problems stem from some viewpoint of
> some communities that we sort of do a land grab.
> Like we come out of nothing but carry the mandate to solve the data
> portability problem while others are already working
> on it or related things. So I wonder if we should also think about
> revising our mission a bit.

Yes, there's nothing wrong with running to the front of the parade, but it's
also good to embrace the small army behind you.

Just to pick one, as we all know lots of semweb folks have been working in
closely related areas for a long time. If DP was perceived more as a
conversational focal point and less as a set of technology blueprints, maybe
there'd be more engagement from them because they wouldn't think DP was
competing with them.

Then again, I could be wrong. It may be a question of bandwidth for any
existing group to mesh properly with their DP colleagues.

-Paul

Phil Wolff

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May 12, 2008, 12:42:43 PM5/12/08
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When one person tells you an ass, laugh.
When a second person tells you, shrug.
When a third tells you you're an ass, look for a tail.

Where are the hard truths in Messina's message?

First, we've been coming across as assholes. Arrogant, holier than thou, know it all assholes. Appropriating other's logos (faking endorsements). Redefining well defined terms and ideas in our own language. Ignoring prior art (look to the identity commons and IIW, for example). Picking winners and losers as though we have the right. 

Second, we lost whatever technical credibility we earned. It's one thing for Chris Messina to tell us this in a private conversation. It's another when he does it in public and at length and with a considered neutral tone. He's the least reactive and most tolerant of all the serious geeks I know. He's not alone in his opinions and wouldn't have gone to the trouble of spelling everything out if he didn't know he was speaking for many others.

Third, we can smell the smoke of burnt bridges. It is now harder to get dp.org calls returned than 60 days ago. Ghosts of deffected supporters and volunteers litter the dp.org's trail. Bad behaviour, at odds with our stated community values, creates cognitive dissonance and makes volunteers and partners lose faith and be unhappy.

It sucks.

But that's where we are right now.

This is a compound crisis.

It's a crisis of perception. A crisis of reality. A crisis of leadership.

How can we use this reality check to deal with it?

Or do we stop becoming a "we" and dissolve the organization?

Phil Wolff
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Phil Wolff

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May 12, 2008, 12:46:02 PM5/12/08
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By the lack of authority vested in me by nobody in particular I hereby deofficiate the tumblr blog.
--

Chris Saad

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May 12, 2008, 1:22:44 PM5/12/08
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Wow Phil - big broad sweeping statements there - let me try to respond with my personal thoughts

On Mon, May 12, 2008 at 9:42 AM, Phil Wolff <pwo...@gmail.com> wrote:
When one person tells you an ass, laugh.
When a second person tells you, shrug.
When a third tells you you're an ass, look for a tail.

Calling out questions and comments about the project is encouraged and welcomed - that's the point of an open community conversation. Any high-visibility, large scale undertaking has a tail - maybe even some fur.
 

Where are the hard truths in Messina's message?

First, we've been coming across as assholes. Arrogant, holier than thou, know it all assholes. Appropriating other's logos (faking endorsements).

Using the logos on the front page was a way to show respect for those standards and direct traffic their way. It was a statement about 'invent nothing' and has been there since the beginning. Perhaps the evangelism team would like to start a HomePage taskforce to deal modify/improve the page?


Redefining well defined terms and ideas in our own language.

That's what you do when you wrap technology with a consumer/mainstream message - so I don't think we should apologize for that. Besides, I think the only time we have done that is to coin the phrase 'Data Portability'.
 
Ignoring prior art (look to the identity commons and IIW, for example).

I am not sure we can ever be accused of ignoring prior art WHILE being accused of promoting other groups through their logos. We have spent long conversations speaking to all groups - even started a research phase and podcast series to make sure it happened. I don't think this point is fair to say to any of the people who have worked very hard to reach out (including Trent, Mary, Daniela and others). I know I have personally spent hours and hours talking to anyone and everyone who will listen - many of whom have joined the project and had major impacts on its mission and execution.

 
Picking winners and losers as though we have the right. 

We have a right to do whatever want want for our own 'best practices'. It's the market's right to use or ignore those best practices. The project was set up to design best practices. That was our goal and it has been endorsed by many.
 

Second, we lost whatever technical credibility we earned. It's one thing for Chris Messina to tell us this in a private conversation. It's another when he does it in public and at length and with a considered neutral tone. He's the least reactive and most tolerant of all the serious geeks I know. He's not alone in his opinions and wouldn't have gone to the trouble of spelling everything out if he didn't know he was speaking for many others.


Really? Chris Messina would you agree with that? I don't think you would even call yourself tolerant and non-reactive :)
 

Third, we can smell the smoke of burnt bridges. It is now harder to get dp.org calls returned than 60 days ago. Ghosts of deffected supporters and volunteers litter the dp.org's trail.

People come and go all the time Phil - people are busy with day jobs. I'm not sure who's not returning your call - what calls are you making?
 
Bad behaviour, at odds with our stated community values, creates cognitive dissonance and makes volunteers and partners lose faith and be unhappy.

Again things like the logos on the front page can be seen as bad behavior by some - even though it was an effort to promote the prior work. Making decisions for what is 'best practices' is the stated goal of the project. That is not misbehavior - it is our goal. Some may disagree with it, but that does not make it wrong.



It sucks.

But that's where we are right now.

This is a compound crisis.

It's a crisis of perception. A crisis of reality. A crisis of leadership.

When you say leadership are you referring to me? Or to the other community members who are cutting time from their day jobs to try to keep a very large project on track? Are you not a leader of the DataPortability project? Are you not running the DIY project and others? Would you like to swap out the participants for someone else?

Anyone in the project can be a leader of a task force and change the wiki and the conversation in radical ways. That has also been a stated goal.

Leadership is also knowing how to set a direction and sticking with it however. Just because some question or goals, does not make them wrong. Just because there are complaints (and there will always be complaints) does not mean we're heading in the wrong direction. The trick of leadership is knowing the difference.
 

How can we use this reality check to deal with it?

Or do we stop becoming a "we" and dissolve the organization?

Dissolve the organization? Wow that's a pretty drastic option for what is essentially a set of easily remedied questions and concerns.
 

Phil Wolff

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May 12, 2008, 1:44:23 PM5/12/08
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So there is no problem? It's all imagined and in our heads?
I think we can no longer be dismissive of "naysayers" or of the volunteers who've abandoned this project.
This is neither the time for denial nor defensive attacks.
This is a time to listen.

We should acknowledge there's a problem (which I hope I started in my earlier post).

We should seek to understand the problem. 
Then make a solution space with many options.
And work toward one or more solutions.

As for my responsibility, I'll take my share of responsibility as a member of this community. But let's start by acknowledging that we have responsibility not only for our vision but also for speech and behavior that triggers frustration, outrage, rejection, confusion, and public castigation by others. We should thank Messina for being clear so we can examine our problem and find the changes we must make within ourselves.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves"

- phil

Brady Brim-DeForest

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May 12, 2008, 2:21:16 PM5/12/08
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This issue has certainly not gone away over the last couple of months.

It is very clear to me that we need an official DataPortability blog
on a wordpress/typepad (or similar) platform. It should be controlled
by a body of editors that together comprise a task-force.

-Brady

danielabarbosa

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May 12, 2008, 3:45:03 PM5/12/08
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On the blog- i think the majority of the group has agreed to Brady's,
Julian and Phil's point above-shame on us for not doing something
about it. i do not have the bandwidth to take that on right now- but
is is with my support if someone wants to take the initiative (i
believe someone registered a WP Dataportability domain last month?)- i
know we discussed this in Evangelism chat last week in heated
discussion- let's just do it already.

Give it 24hrs if no one dissents violently that Tumblr is not the
'official Dataportability Blog' and that we should have an official
dataportability blog with a body of editors...do it.

On May 12, 10:44 am, "Phil Wolff" <pwo...@gmail.com> wrote:

> We should seek to understand the problem.
> Then make a solution space with many options.
> And work toward one or more solutions.
>

ok i agree - it is what we have been trying to do- so what are we not
doing right? We engage in dialogs, we attend conferences/workshops and
participate, we listen, we invite them to help us define things, we
offer our support for projects etc. that are closely associated with
data portability. how can we further deliver back so we can move the
DataPortability project forward.

Phil i have also been approached by people 'outside' of the DP project
about their concerns and i have been trying to listen and understand
and converse with them. I think that not one but many have been
'quietly' going around speaking to some of us about their concerns-
which is great because if we are 'worth' their time it means that as a
group we probably doing something right. excellent. so we are
listening as is obvious in this thread you opened- so now what?

Our DP project group is global- and i feel that folks like you, Mary,
myself and others who are SF based have more of an opportunity to be
involved in the local scene which is great. From participating in
events like IIW and the upcoming Data Sharing Summit- to having lunch
and drinks with some of the others players- great so how can we
capitalize on this? For example the work that Trent is doing in Boston
is brilliant and Christian in Germany and Elias in Australia and on an
on an on...

The discussion lists on the google groups are the main way to
communicate with the DP project- and the right thing was to reference
Messina's post here (thanks Aaron)- this post however was one of the
first detailed statements of what we are and are not doing right that
i have seen in a while from the 'outside'- it seems that he has been
doing a lot of thinking on the subject which is great. do you happen
to know if Chris Messina discussed this with any other day to day
members of the DP project as he was thinking this post and the issues
through? (i am embarrassed to say that after 3 yrs in the valley i
have yet to have a conversation with Chris Messina-my bad)

i don't want to speak for anyone else-on this: i am trying to keep
the channels open, i am open to critique (and like you fully take on
any blame that needs to be taken), i am frustrated as well but think
we have something that is moving these issues forward in the
mainstream - outside of the tech circles that feel are unapproachable
sometimes to people like me- and i don't think we can abandon what we
have started. Also, for me personally, some of the communication
methods for the 'advice' we have been receiving have been troubling at
times and it goes both ways sometimes with backchannel conversations,
personal attacks. etc - i have personally made the effort to state
that i personally do not believe that is the way to conduct 'business'
and have been very pleased with the results to date of my
conversations on the subject. we move one.

now- i have tons of reading and catching up to do. i have been asked
to be on a 'unpanel' on thursday at the DataSharing Summit- i will
open up a thread to let everyone in the DP project group to share
their ideas on what i should highlight as part of the DataPortability
project- to get some advice as to which questions you all think the
panel will or should get, and how i can speak on the behalf of the
Workgroup if you all will allow me to.

Mary Trigiani

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May 12, 2008, 4:58:16 PM5/12/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
Like Daniela, I'm at a bit of a loss in how to respond to what I
perceive as challenges to the DataPortability project. Perhaps folks
are confusing "open" with "open attacks." I don't know anymore.

Here's what I do know: I would not be affiliated with any project,
organization or client that engages in subterfuge, theft or
badmouthing in pursuit of a mission. Had I detected that, you
wouldn't be reading this right now. And I wouldn't be involved in
something that wasted my time professionally -- that had no
technological depth or substance.

I have learned over time, in many situations, in more than one
industry, that if I have asked a question multiple times and I don't
get an answer or I get one that is off the subject, someone or
something is blowing smoke up my skirt. In the case of
dataportability.org and the various specialists who feel they have
domain expertise and territorial privilege, I have asked many
technical questions and many process questions, and each time, the
answer was a dodge or made no sense to me. Which I pointed out.
Which led me to the conclusion that something else is going on. These
questions I've asked have been part of cordial conversations, or what
I thought were, as well as heated discussions. The fact that I still
don't detect any major problems, just unfounded criticism or personal
criticisms, only tells me that there is something happening that folks
have no intention of clarifying. In other words, I think I'm in
transparent conversations and debates, when I'm actually being played
or patronized.

On a personal level, no harm done. Many of these specialists are
friends and colleagues. Professionally, however, I believe it's time
that we direct any conversation about the scope, agenda, results and
technology findings of The DataPortability Project to these wiki pages
and out Google chats. This is where the folks interested in data
portability, from the world over, gather to glean insights and see
what's new. I want to see concrete, technological analysis that I
don't understand for all the right reasons -- and that I will come to
understand with the guidance of my fellow project members. I suggest
we spend our precious time on achieving results and the fulfilling the
mission of this now-mainstream effort.

marccanter

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May 12, 2008, 8:29:29 PM5/12/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
Hey folks I'd like to weigh in here.

When Google thinks its important enough to have a campfire, when
Microsoft forms an alliance and MySpace calls a press conference and
Facebook launches something new - we know we're in a hot area.

Advocacy is supposed to be inclusive.

So Dataportability.org should not lock-out or assume anything.
Dataportability.org needs to keep its nose clean and EARN its respect,
not assume it can speak for others. That's probably teh biggest
problem here.

Dataportability.org exists to help the community of software
developers, end-users and even BigCo vendors promote the notion of
dataportability. Its that simple.

Anything else is chaf.

Ross Dawson

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May 12, 2008, 10:26:28 PM5/12/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
Without getting into the detailed discussion here I think it's
important to keep in mind...

1. data portability (generically) has massive value to the community
and extraordinary momentum
2. There are many initiatives and personalities on reasonably aligned
paths supporting this
3. DataPortability (the organization) is perceived to be (and I
believe is) central to the current momentum, and is well positioned to
push this all forward based on what I think are common values on what
the web should be
4. There is going to be any amount of sniping and worse, much (but not
all) from well-intentioned people
5. The ongoing challenge for DP is to work with both aligned and
competing interests to help create a truly open web
6. It's not likely to get easier - expect headaches and pains in the
ass as an ongoing fact of life for DP
7. This is more than worthwhile, this is IMPORTANT for all of our
futures - don't think I'm overstating it here - and DP needs to
continue to thrash things out so it can play a (not necessarily 'the')
leading role in creating an open web. This has to come from a 'what is
possible?' outlook

Marc says
> Advocacy is supposed to be inclusive.

Yes, and if DP can be the most inclusive of the initiatives, as it
has been so far, without being derailed by everyone it is including,
then it is likely to be the lynchpin to making the web open. Not easy,
but worth doing :-)

Aaron Cheung

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May 12, 2008, 10:48:44 PM5/12/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
Hello.. wow.. what we've been through in an overnight..

Ok I'd seek to be brief.. I would like to see ATOM added. Atom is a good standard
(http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc4287) and already has widespread adoption, in particular
by google (long time) and microsoft (soon if not already)..

I don't mean to kick out newer standards like APML. It's purely ok (to me) to include
APML, even that appears too much self-serving to some, but that's ok and inevitable.

I do not mean that we need to rush ATOM onto the page now, but I'd like to
at least see it discussed, of whether to have it added, or remain dropped (from the
frontpage inclusion, should there continue to have such protocol/logo inclusions).

People (obviously me not alone) get annoyed if a discussion item was raised, but
resulted into any material decision, *while* some other items were never quite
discussed, yet decided by some to be of "official" status.. (apml being one, tumblr
issue being other).. not that they cannot be official. It's understood that in a group
like this, "whoever doing the job has the power", but should be willingly ready to
be subject to community challenges... it's more like running a private company vs.
running a public company.. you don't need to take a private company public, but
once it's taken public, there're "regulations" and "expectations" to cater for..

Not least, must say, these days, "data portability" is much like "web 2.0" or worse,
"web 3.0"... whereas the true definition, if any, no longer matters.. like web 2.0,
DP/dp more like a movement now (if not some marketing gimmick).. some phrases
made it big time (eg., "data portability").. while some are questionable ("social graph"),
and some simply failed (to date) to make it (eg., TBL's "giant global graph", or ggg,
obviously after www, despite TBL's coining).. and since data portability gained wide
acceptance, at least found love from members of the press, it's time to beef it up,
and my it solid, while also making it likable, and helpful, as Marc also said earlier.

Regards,
Aaron.

Aaron Cheung

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May 12, 2008, 10:53:32 PM5/12/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
> People (obviously me not alone) get annoyed if a discussion item was raised, but
> resulted into any material decision, *while* some other items were never quite
never resulted into any material decision, *while* some other items were never quite

Julian Bond

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May 13, 2008, 3:00:27 AM5/13/08
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Ross Dawson <ross...@gmail.com> Mon, 12 May 2008 19:26:28

>Marc says
>> Advocacy is supposed to be inclusive.
>
>Yes, and if DP can be the most inclusive of the initiatives, as it
>has been so far, without being derailed by everyone it is including,
>then it is likely to be the lynchpin to making the web open. Not easy,
>but worth doing :-)

I'd really strongly advise going back and reading the Wiki page on "What
is DataPortability?" http://wiki.dataportability.org/x/HgER

And do feel free to point critics at it as well. Much of the recent
criticism just falls away in the light of that page.

--
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Webmaster: http://www.ecademy.com/ T: +44 (0)192 0412 433
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Contains Flammable Gas Under Pressure

Aaron Cheung

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May 13, 2008, 3:10:23 AM5/13/08
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Currently on the wiki frontpage, the "About Us" (http://wiki.dataportability.org/display/dpmain/about) says --

==========
about (Page Not Found)

The page you were trying to reach could not be found: it may have been renamed or moved to another space, or the name you requested
may be incomplete.
==========

While it follows with a few boxed links for read-on's, it doesn't look too good... could someone curating that page help point it to
a more intelligent page, ie., either that http://wiki.dataportability.org/x/HgER page, or replace it with something "else"... :-)

Cheers,
Aaron.

Chris Messina

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May 13, 2008, 1:27:56 PM5/13/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
I thought I'd just contribute a few thoughts here, since I kind of
kicked off this whole thread with my post.

First, I'm happy to see a discussion resulting from my post -- and
various people taking the time to consider what I was feeling.

To answer Daniela's question: no, I hadn't talked to anyone who really
would consider themselves a "member" of the DP community; I talked to
plenty of people *outside* the community, however, who have both
expressed and mirrored my own frustrations and concerns about the
group and wrote my post because, well, after having plenty of private
conversations, specifically with Chris Saad and, to a lesser extent,
Ben Metcalfe, I felt the need to say something, when the goddamn press
releases didn't stop even after Saad promised me to take the group
down a more "humble" and "grassroots" path at SG FOO. The behavior
indicates that either 1) he was lying to me and had no intention of
changing course 2) that PR for MySpace is something that they can't
afford and represent a new definition of "grassroots" 3) that the DP-
PR machine is simply more effective at taking credit for big moves
that they had nothing directly to do with than to promote smaller
independent, more "grassroots" groups who are *actually* making moves
towards effective data portability, like Dopplr, like TripIt, like
Satisfaction and Twitter and the rest. I don't believe I've seen any
press releases go out about them, and yet I would consider them to be
on the vanguard giving people access to their data in real-world,
useful ways.

So, I also felt like there weren't enough public criticisms about the
group coming out, even though I've been told, plenty of times, in
confidence, that they either 1) don't get what DP is trying to do 2)
feel uncomfortably about the work or the message of the DP group or 3)
really think that DP is just s fly flitting around that needs to be
supported In Name Only, frankly, because it has a good name, and how
could you *not* support people owning their data? I mean, it's like
asking companies to join the "I Don't Stab Babies in their Mouths"
group. Yeah, lemme take that to legal and see what they have to say.
So unfortunately people feel compelled to say that, "well sure, I
support data portability" -- meaning the abstract notion, without any
strings attached -- but oddly, saying that sounds A LOT like "well
sure, I support DataPortability", and when you hear someone speak
these words, well, how is one to know the difference? And therein lies
the rub.

Now, personally it's not that I don't think that the majority members
of this group/community aren't well intentioned. In fact, as I've said
before, I'm sympathetic to the abstract notion of "data portability",
and in fact have been working on solving that problem for the last
several years, even if I never called it that (I never needed to).
However, the biggest thing that this group needs to confront,
existentially, is what you're about, and how you intend to go about
bringing about the change that you want to see. Unfortunately, my
baseline sense is that you're unclear about what the *results* of your
goal actually look like (i.e. when everyone "owns" their own data and
can copy/move/sync/access it, what does that future look like? Are
there more businesses? Fewer? How do companies survive -- better
*thrive* -- in this new bold model?). If you're going to put the goal
of "[promoting] the idea that individuals have control over their data
by determing how they can use it and who can use it", you're putting
technicalities and social engineering as your top priorities, rather
than leading with benefits. I've pointed this out before, but I can
get a full XML data dump of all my Basecamp projects. That is data
portability, since I have control over it, and can determine how and
who can use it. BUT, NO ONE supports Basecamp Data Import, so I'm left
with a smolder pile of cow dung as far as I'm concerned, even though
the Basecamp scenario meets the criteria of the goal of the DP group.
Is that a win? If not, perhaps the direction is somewhat off from
where you need to be heading.

So if we dig deeper into your About document, we can see, in blinding
clarity, how much lip service is paid to the many wonderful open
source principles, ethos and practices that have helped it succeed,
but if you examine the behavior of the group, and I'll single out
Chris Saad since the majority of my interactions with the DP group
have been through and with him, I'd say that you're doing almost the
exact OPPOSITE of everything that you've outlined in your Approach,
Principles and NOT sections.

A few choice cuts:

* Engaging with individuals, services and standards bodies with
similar views where their scope is relevant

--> It is unclear to me how you engage with, in particular, standards
bodies or groups. I don't know what your protocol of engagement is
besides F2F conversations, which are anything but transparent, and I
don't know how 1) members of the DP project announce themselves to
groups that they're joining, or 2) how they report back to members of
this group, and 3) how their involvement or participation affects DP
overall. For example, if you join the microformats mailing lists, is
that redundant since arguably this group is already committed to, and
has a history of promoting, data portability? Would joining be a good
or bad use of a group members' time?

* Identifying new standards that are required to fulfill the data
portability vision

--> if you are inventing nothing new, I can see how outsourcing the
development of certain formats or protocols (they're not standard
until you can run a train across the country on them) is a proper
approach but 1) usually these groups developing such things have their
own interests in mind and don't care/aren't aware of other work 2) how
will you identity holes when you're not actually building anything?
And, just to help me understand, how would you evaluate things like
oEmbed and ODD? If they end up with logos, will they show up on the
homepage? Help me understand the evaluation process of determining
which emerging formats or protocols end up in the DP "social software
stack",

* The DataPortability project intends:
** To be open to anyone, whether individuals, companies or
organizations
** To reach resolution by consensus
** To have transparency in decisions
** To prefer collaboration of existing efforts over invention of new
technologies

I read somewhere that the group intends to do away with all the
politics that have held back previous efforts... Uh, right. Because
the democratic party, which supposedly welcomes everyone and is more
pro-grassroots, is somehow unified and has no internal politics? I
think that, while sheer openness and inclusivity are good values to
have, I think that diversity, in many ways, is even more important. I
think that choosing people to participate in this effort who are
familiar with the issues, who have worked on these problems in the
real world, who have actual customers who *oppose* things like "data
portability" is critical to developing something that will actually
take hold. Otherwise you're just circle jerking and feeling like the
world is on your side.

I don't think that you reach resolution through consensus. When has
that ever worked? You reach resolution when you have adoption. There
was this guy, Charles, and he had this theory about how competition
helped the most able species survive. You should look him up. He spent
a lot of time in the Galapagos. :P

I've seen very little transparency in decision making on matters of
import, i.e. the technologies on the homepage, which represent a
mutual endorsement (really, we don't need the extra traffic
thankyouverymuch -- nor did we ask for it). You've been transparent
about picking a logo (that hasn't gone so well) and about whether
Tumblr should be the official blog or not, and frankly, the decision
making process in both of those cases seems fraught with both politics
and a lack of clear ownership of the problem. I'll give you a pass
with those particular instances since this is still a young group with
a desire both to let everyone in while also trying to have some sense
of order, but the trajectory so far does not bode well, given my
previous experiences with constructive leadership.

The last point is somewhat redundant, though it's basically a self-
imposed mandate not to invent any new technologies. This is a good
one, but really the one that is required in order for you to maintain
any chance of credibility when so many other groups have sought, or
are working, to solve this problem. If you were to invent something
new, like the WRFS, the purpose of the group would clearly need to
change -- not because WRFS is a bad idea -- but because it's untested,
there are no implementations in the wild, and it's starting with a
new, bold vision. WRFS may catch on, who knows? But it's certainly
something outside the scope of the original point of promoting
existing means for achieving some kind of portable data
infrastructure.

Ok, now about what DP is NOT (and by the way, it is super handy that
you at least have this document and have wrung your hands about what
you are from the beginning -- it gives me something to actually refer
to, ideally, to help you do some introspection):

* We are not a group focused on creating new technologies.
DataPortability intends to work with tools that already exist today.

--> Ok, got that. Still, selection criteria is vague if non-existent.
I've gone through a selection process with DiSo and we landed on
microformats, OpenID, OAuth, ATOM and someday, XMPP.
* Microformats because WordPress already supported XFN and there's
lots of microformats in the wild already not being leveraged, plus
they're compatible with ATOM and XMPP.
* OpenID because we had a plugin for WordPress and because we like the
idea of URL-based identifiers; they offer a rich endpoint on which
services can be hung... And because many people use their blog address
when they leave a comment, so why not turn that blog address into
their OpenID?
* OAuth because it's necessary for using OpenID on the desktop or on
mobile devices, and because it provides a better method for doing
permissioning and authorizing that doesn't require usernames and
passwords.
* ATOM because it's better spec'd than RSS, has wider adoption (read:
Google) and because it can be used for push, etc.
* XMPP because it scales well, handles addressable, secure messaging
and federated buddy lists, and because it's already in wide use
(Android, Google Talk).

I'd love to see a similar set of rationales for the DP technology
stack.

* The group is primarily focused on consumer facing technologies and
not those aimed at corporate internal use.

--> This seems patently false, or at least misleading. If the results
of your work are going to end up in consumer facing technologies, ok,
that's fine, but that isn't how this reads. And I appreciate that
you're not talking about intranets, but isn't that self-evident by the
fact that you're talking about "data portability" -- moving data *out*
of silos? Anyway, I'm not sure I get the distinction, but the problem
with this is that you have a bunch of geeky technologies on your
homepage, and yet claim to have an audience of developers, users and
business folks, and yet the result of your work is, what?, data
portability-support consumer technologies? Like iPods or mobile
devices? I guess you could rephrase this to say: we're focusing on
data owned by individuals, rather than proprietary or internal company
data... or something like that. I dunno.

* We are not an organization that mandates single solutions. We
recognize that there are multiple solutions and standards that can be
used to create data portability.

--> Well, this seems like you're going to end up confusing people.
Should I use RDF or microformats? Both? What are the tradeoffs? Well,
usually it's not that simple. It's not like, should I buy 87 or 89 at
the pump, where, with either choice, your car will still run. If you
don't make strong decisions on which technologies to choose, you're
hurting the cause of data portability, since ultimately, while
there're many ways to skin an API, the primary need is for interop. So
if you're not planning on building the interop libraries between
different technologies that do the same thing, how will you ever
achieve true portability if everyone is doing their own thing (see
MySpace or Bebo's implementations of OpenSocial).

Furthermore, I wonder what you would have proposed instead of OAuth,
which was NEW technology, albeit based on prior art? Would you have
just suggested to implement support for BBAuth, OpenAuth, AuthSub and
all the other delegated authZ APIs? Really? If so, you have no idea
what you're talking about and have no clothes. If not, you just broke
your rule not to create anything new. Which will it be?

* We are not going to push approaches that force data into the public
that shouldn't be. The owner of the data should control what parts are
made publicly available, to whom, and how they are used.

But you failed when you invited Scoble to the group and cheered his
scuffle with Facebook. You should have vilified him. Instead, he
became your poster child. This is exactly the kind of fishtailing
thinking that I worry is going to lead to some major fuckup down the
road that imperils all the work we've been doing.

* A legal entity providing legal-level precision.

I guess the legal structure is going to be created to accept funds
(for what?) and to own IP (the brand -- perfect, a target that's
easier to sue!) and that will be accountable to... whom? Every person
on the internets?

I bring up this last point not because I think you should be providing
legal guidance (we have the EFF for that -- by the way, how's your
relationship with them) but because it's stuff like that that destroys
your credibility, at least in the open source, tech scene. We don't
need more foundations or more legal entities just to have a
conversation. If you think you do, you've already lost.

Look, I was a volunteer on the Spread Firefox project. I never got
paid. Thousands of other people like me around the world also pitched
in, organized, didn't get paid, etc. There was a legal structure (the
Mozilla Foundation) and it held the copyright for the Mozilla source
code as well as, eventually, the Firefox, Thunderbird et al
trademarks. It needed to protect them because people might have a
commercial interest in releasing versions of Firefox that were really
malware, and in which case, Mozilla would need a legal instrument to
shut them down. In the case of DataPortability, you'd be better off
pushing data portability, the generic term, than trying to build a
defensible, trademarked brand, IMNSHO. Microformats is spelled with a
lowercase "m" because Tantek intended it to become a common word, not
able to be trademarked, because it was more important that the idea
spread, than any single group hold control over it. Same, more or
less, with BarCamp, and with coworking. Now, I'll submit that radical
ideas like giving up control or ownership of things can be scary, but
frankly, you can't afford not to, if you really want the idea to
spread and to take on a life of its own.

But so far, I see all these trends with the DP group to centralize
centralize centralize! And yet that's the wrong model for the web! And
it's the wrong model for a group that espouses choice and
portability!

Efforts that seem to have worked in the past have been BrowseHappy or
the Web Standards Project. Or Spread Firefox. They had a clear focus
-- to basically do one thing -- and they just beat the drum over and
over again, in any context that was relevant, finding the leverage
points that would give them the most bang for the buck. DP has done
well with its big press releases and has raised its profile with its
logo lawsuits. And yes, the phrase is making its way out there into
conversations, as I said in my post, but the future is less certain to
me. Big SIlos will continue to try to interoperate and best each other
with their openness. I don't know how much DP will be able to
influence what they actually do or how they do it -- again, as I said
-- it was inevitable that they started solving these problems, since
their customers are starting to feel the pain -- and they need better
solutions. It's also a lot more lucrative to monetize the entire web
than just your corner of the web, and when you think about it, what
are the most (ugh) "sticky" websites? Ones that are social! And if
people are spending time NOT on your website, but other peoples'
websites, well, you can make it easy for them to make their sites more
social and more sticky, and then also show ads on those pages, etc.
And then there's just the technological opportunity of adding a social
layer to the web, and well, that needs to happen regardless.

My point in all this is to try to tease out some clarity, which, after
months of debate and discussion, still seems lacking from the core.
Yes, I get it that data portability is about moving/syncing/copying/
streaming data around the web. Ok, fine. And I get that there are
technologies that help you accomplish that, cool. I also get that
raising the visibility of the story of the need for both more data
portability and for more business models that are compatible with data
portability is a worthy thing to pursue. What I don't get is how, with
all this structure, and with a logo, and with technical best
practices, and with a monthly message you're doing anything but
amplifying what's already being done, and what's already going on, or
that will happen, with or without you.

If you want my advice, and I started to provide this with my proposal
for the video project, the central group needs to focus on providing
simple tools and effective methods for individuals who are interested,
to pick up the banner of data portability, and to articulate an
expression of what is broken about the web today, and how they want it
to be fixed. Rather than bombastic press releases, DP should be the
model citizen for how to listen to a wide and diverse constituency,
and then turn that into recommendations or *practices* (only time will
tell if they're best!) that people could adopt to meet the needs of
these audiences.

If you wanted to do something super useful, I think that the small
central group of you that are so passionate about this topic and that
have invested so much of your time already should go out onto the web
and find the specific instances where things are breaking down for
people, where my mom, for example, has to signup for Service X account
even though she has a Service Y account, just to see some photos that
I've shared with her. And then round up the host of problems that
follow when people who just want to connect with people whom they care
about are stymied by the way in which technologies works, or in many
cases, doesn't work, today. Start to array those into "problem:
solution" sets, where you clearly articulate the opportunity that
you're presenting to businesses, should they adopt the practice that
you're proposing. I think this is simple, this is elegant, this is
much needed, and it also focuses you on the real world, and gives
anyone out there on the web the opportunity to contribute to helping
ameliorate the problems that plague us because our technologies are
not yet really working for us, in the ways that we desire, and the
ways that we know are possible.

Apologies for droning on, but I felt I should take this opportunity to
expand on my original post.

Chris


On May 13, 12:10 am, Aaron Cheung <a...@ydrive.com> wrote:
> Currently on the wiki frontpage, the "About Us" (http://wiki.dataportability.org/display/dpmain/about) says --
>
> ==========
> about (Page Not Found)
>
> The page you were trying to reach could not be found: it may have been renamed or moved to another space, or the name you requested
> may be incomplete.
> ==========
>
> While it follows with a few boxed links for read-on's, it doesn't look too good... could someone curating that page help point it to
> a more intelligent page, ie., either thathttp://wiki.dataportability.org/x/HgERpage, or replace it with something "else"... :-)
>
> Cheers,
> Aaron.
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Julian Bond" <julian_b...@voidstar.com>
> To: <dataportabilit...@googlegroups.com>; <dataportabi...@googlegroups.com>
> Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 3:00 PM
> Subject: [DataPortability-Public] Re: [DP.AG.Steering] Re: Official Blog
>
> > Ross Dawson <rossd...@gmail.com> Mon, 12 May 2008 19:26:28

Aaron Cheung

unread,
May 13, 2008, 5:15:59 PM5/13/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
If I read it right this seems more like Chris (M) vs. Chris (S)..? ok let me put a smiley here :-)
Hmm, not simple issues.. and let me offer a few points from my feelings also..after Messina's -

My limited encounters with CS (before his "popularity" these days) gave me the impression
that CS is very choosy on who he responds to, or to be exact, he was then not returning my
early-January inquiry of how to join DP (despite the "Contact Us" link pointing to his mbox),
while day in and day out enjoyed mentioning things like Facebook joining, etc etc, and listing
industry-figurehead names (including Messina) on the dp frontpage.. so it's not surprising that
CS tends to value BigCo's much [much] more.. Ok that was January, mightbe things weren't
too ready. But then, as recently as in late April, CS did not seem like to even acknowledge
my email to him direct to his mbox, for my response to his asking publicly if there's any
announcements in support of DP..so, my feeling being, ok, we're too small and/or too new
to be worthy.. fair enough..

Why fair enough? because we have to understand that CS has been the "attention" guy.. recall
APML?.. so, attention is perhaps his better/best expertise..and Data Portability more like a tool?
In fact, still remember that long-standing-until-recently dp homepage? -- in that invent-nothing sq,
APML was spectacularly at 1st-row-1st-column, and next come OpenID, then microformats..
(point being, not simply due to alphabetical order reasons..) Any problem with that? honestly,
not much of a problem.. though it feels a bit strange that, having invented something (APML) not
too long ago, now calling for invent-nothing... (anyway, I'd still like to say I'd like to see ATOM!)..

CS, might be perhaps being too close to TC's Arrington(?), has become pretty subjective,
and seemingly pretty much of strong-arm mentality.. and emerging with me-the-winner attitude..
meaning, seemingly don't quite want to listen (even at times appearing to be overly-democratic)
but when decisions not in his (personal) favor, he'd seek ways to get around it and still presenting
himself as the-person, and like, marking pages with official labels.. ok we've discussed that..

But reality is, being modest with a person is one thing.. some growing untold dislikes are another,
obviously at it seems now..

That said, CS did succeed in bringing good attention to "the dataportability project", of which we've
become a part, and that's undeniable credit due to CS. In light of this, I'd tend to agree more with
CS, with respect to his "marketing methodology".. even though, as I said elsewhere, it was more of
Scoble's incident with facebook that gave the take-off attention and profile to the dataportability
project, and I'd assume CS "had done something good" in between.

That said, and having observed the dp project almost from day one, I did have the feeling that
the group "stole" some publicity from some bigco's announcements in Q1.. however, recently,
per listings on the wikipedia.org dp page, some recent bigco's announcements did explicitly mention
that they were "joining the dataportability.org project".. in light of that, things kind of become more
like some "coalition of the willing" - mutually so.. it's become interwoven and meshed up already,
and already hard to say "who's taking who's advantage", if any. And that's business world anyway.

Given that, and with all due respect to Messina's points (switching to lastname form just to
avoid the which-Chris confusion), I'd tend to differ on that this group should focus to use the
"fix the web" approach.. because the web could never be "fixed".. :-| and because, perhaps 2 or 3
years down the road or so, dp would no longer be a topic worthy of discussing, or any attention,
at all.. An analogy would be more like OpenID vs. SAML -- the latter being too perfect (to take
off, big time).

Regards,

mndoci

unread,
May 13, 2008, 6:20:53 PM5/13/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
If I might add a few words. When the Data Portability group first
started, I was quite excited, hoping that we finally had a group of
like minded people who would facilitate an intellectual discussion
around the subject and evangelize the need and showcase examples.
Very quickly I became disillusioned with the bureaucracy and PR
emphasis. Start sounding like so many committees I have participated
in over the years. Too much worry about branding, etc. I must say I
agree with Marc Canter and factorjoe and really feel that there is too
much self importance going on as well

Deepak
> ...
>
> read more »

Mary Trigiani

unread,
May 13, 2008, 6:34:45 PM5/13/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
Just want to invite our visitors to actually participate in our
technical projects and identification of best practices! Unless, of
course, you want visibility for your work and an examination into its
functionality and usefulness. Not to mention its applicability in the
mainstream. In that case, you might want to reconsider. Thank you!

David Recordon

unread,
May 13, 2008, 7:27:25 PM5/13/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
I really agree with what Deepak just said! I drafted this as a start
of a blog post, never ended up finishing it, but think it fits really
well here.

Back in December I jumped on a plane and flew out to BarCamp London
for an awesome weekend of geekiness hosted by Google. Fading in and
out of my sleepy stupor I was introduced to a site I hadn't seen
before, one which looked sufficiently geeky, promoting technologies
that I cared about, with people that I knew listed as being involved,
and I wanted to be a part of it. That lovely scrappy looking site was
DataPortability.org.

Fast forward a month to January and the press machine starts to
churn. Robert Scoble tests a new tool from Plaxo to sync his friends
from Facebook to Plaxo which results in his account being banned on
Facebook (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/03/scoble-blocked-from-
facebook/) due to looking like an attack. Scoble then joins
DataPortability (http://www.particls.com/blog/2008/01/welcoming-robet-
scoble-to.html) and the group issues a public invitation to Facebook
to join as well. From there it only continues in the media as
Facebook, Google And Plaxo Join The DataPortability Workgroup (http://
www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/08/this-day-will-be-remembered-facebook-google-and-plaxo-join-the-dataportability-workgroup/),
LinkedIn Joins The DataPortability Work Group (http://
www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/10/linkedin-joins-the-dataportability-work-group/),
LinkedIn, SixApart and Flickr *People* Join DataPortability.org
(http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/
linkedin_flickr_and_sixapart_dataportability.php), and then Microsoft
Joining DataPortability.org (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/
microsoft_joining_dataportabil.php).

Wow! That felt like a lot of momentum, but out of these companies
none at the time had posted to the DataPortability mailing lists even
once! This seemed to be a concerted PR effort around increasing the
visibility of the group; one that worked quite well.

Over the course of three months DataPortability had shifted from a
lovely scrappy open source style project that I wanted to be involved
in to something I didn't even understand anymore. It is easy for
everyone to say that they "support data portability" without it
actually creating a real commitment to change.

--David
> ...
>
> read more »

Mary Trigiani

unread,
May 13, 2008, 7:45:53 PM5/13/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
Please see the new thread about our projects! Thank you.

Jim Meyer

unread,
May 13, 2008, 8:17:18 PM5/13/08
to dataportabilit...@googlegroups.com
I'm having a stupid-busy day, so I'll be terse, knowing that terseness in
email tends to always be read not-as-intended, and usually in the most
insulting way possible. Know that this is not my intention.

I'll reply in context and trim Chris Messina's original cause that's how I
roll, old school.

On 5/13/08 10:27 AM, "Chris Messina" <chris....@gmail.com> wrote:
> I thought I'd just contribute a few thoughts here, since I kind of
> kicked off this whole thread with my post.

I'm really glad you did.

> [omitted: a fact-based rant about DP's frequent press releases]


>
> So, I also felt like there weren't enough public criticisms about the
> group coming out, even though I've been told, plenty of times, in
> confidence, that they either 1) don't get what DP is trying to do 2)
> feel uncomfortably about the work or the message of the DP group or 3)
> really think that DP is just s fly flitting around that needs to be
> supported In Name Only, frankly, because it has a good name, and how

> could you *not* support people owning their data? [...]
>
> [omitted: a visually oriented analogy that a father of two didn't need]

I'll confess that I sat quieter than I should have. Partly, I've been trying
to help DP become a more productive entity from within; partly, I've got too
many irons in the fire to spend the time needed to offer clear, cogent
feedback on all the various threads.

I've often said that a technologist of any level should be able to come in,
understand how to value dp/DP and how to engage with it to contribute and
receive value. Given two hours, I should be able to do any of:

* Learn a lot about accessing distributed data/resources via
web services
* Understand why, as an organization, I should embrace dp/DP on
more than a non-baby-stabbing level
* Elaborate a portion of a technical specification
* Write a sample implementation of some well-defined portion of a
technical specification

That said, I've been spending less and less time on DP-the-group and more
and more time on dp-the-purpose. I reached a frustration point with my
inability to do any of the above through the noise. Some of this I attribute
to my oversubscribed, underinformed position; some of it, though, is the
group's distracted focus on how to run the group versus what to do and how
to facilitate it getting done.

> [omitted: a stipulation that most of the DP group are well-intentioned]
>
> [...] However, the biggest thing that this group needs to confront,


> existentially, is what you're about, and how you intend to go about
> bringing about the change that you want to see. Unfortunately, my
> baseline sense is that you're unclear about what the *results* of your

> goal actually look like [...] you're putting technicalities and social


> engineering as your top priorities, rather than leading with benefits.
>

> [omitted: Basecamp dumps as cowdung analogy]

Absolutely 100% agreed, as I mentioned above. We need to clearly explain the
value and make it easy -- seductive! -- to engage, or just STFU.

> [omitted: a well-reasoned dissection of conflicts between
> publically-stated intentions and public behavior on behalf of some
> individuals and the group as a whole which, while not entirely accurate
> in every detail*, is still cogent and on target]


>
> --> Ok, got that. Still, selection criteria is vague if non-existent.
> I've gone through a selection process with DiSo and we landed on
> microformats, OpenID, OAuth, ATOM and someday, XMPP.
> * Microformats because WordPress already supported XFN and there's
> lots of microformats in the wild already not being leveraged, plus
> they're compatible with ATOM and XMPP.
> * OpenID because we had a plugin for WordPress and because we like the
> idea of URL-based identifiers; they offer a rich endpoint on which
> services can be hung... And because many people use their blog address
> when they leave a comment, so why not turn that blog address into
> their OpenID?
> * OAuth because it's necessary for using OpenID on the desktop or on
> mobile devices, and because it provides a better method for doing
> permissioning and authorizing that doesn't require usernames and
> passwords.
> * ATOM because it's better spec'd than RSS, has wider adoption (read:
> Google) and because it can be used for push, etc.
> * XMPP because it scales well, handles addressable, secure messaging
> and federated buddy lists, and because it's already in wide use
> (Android, Google Talk).
>
> I'd love to see a similar set of rationales for the DP technology
> stack.

Utterly agree. Originally, the website said that DP's mission was to create
and advocate a technical reference platform which enables users to own and
control their data while sharing it meaningfully (paraphrased, since the
original is now gone). That's what I signed up for. We discussed this at the
last face-to-face, and I was heartened by that discussion.

> [omitted: a correct recognition of the misstatement around consumer
> versus corporate facing intent]


>
> * We are not an organization that mandates single solutions. We
> recognize that there are multiple solutions and standards that can be
> used to create data portability.
>
> --> Well, this seems like you're going to end up confusing people.
> Should I use RDF or microformats? Both? What are the tradeoffs? Well,
> usually it's not that simple. It's not like, should I buy 87 or 89 at
> the pump, where, with either choice, your car will still run. If you
> don't make strong decisions on which technologies to choose, you're
> hurting the cause of data portability, since ultimately, while
> there're many ways to skin an API, the primary need is for interop. So
> if you're not planning on building the interop libraries between
> different technologies that do the same thing, how will you ever
> achieve true portability if everyone is doing their own thing (see
> MySpace or Bebo's implementations of OpenSocial).

Hmmm. I'm not sure I entirely agree here. I like the example of Pixar's
RenderMan specification[2]; it completely specifies the behavior of a
successful rendering engine without constraining the implementation. There
have been, to date, three implementations that I'm aware of. They've been in
at least two different languages. As long as they delivered on the spec,
their (highly technical) audience could write tools which fed the renderers
properly formatted information which the renderers interpreted into pixels.

> Furthermore, I wonder what you would have proposed instead of OAuth,
> which was NEW technology, albeit based on prior art? Would you have
> just suggested to implement support for BBAuth, OpenAuth, AuthSub and
> all the other delegated authZ APIs? Really? If so, you have no idea
> what you're talking about and have no clothes. If not, you just broke
> your rule not to create anything new. Which will it be?

I'm unclear how choosing BBAuth over Oauth would have been inventing
something new; this likely means I have no clothes. It's okay. Summer's
coming. ;] Meanwhile, could you elaborate briefly?

> * We are not going to push approaches that force data into the public
> that shouldn't be. The owner of the data should control what parts are
> made publicly available, to whom, and how they are used.
>
> But you failed when you invited Scoble to the group and cheered his
> scuffle with Facebook. You should have vilified him. Instead, he
> became your poster child. This is exactly the kind of fishtailing
> thinking that I worry is going to lead to some major fuckup down the
> road that imperils all the work we've been doing.

I see your point. I can also see the other side -- Facebook should be
vilified for not allowing users to control their data and where it goes.
Further, I've got a third side that says something like "when I give you a
business card, you've got that info forever ... and that applies to info you
can get from Facebook" but that side devolves into the previous side --
Facebook (and LinkedIn, and others) should give you adequate controls to
manage how you share your data, with whom, and for what purpose.

> [omitted: a discussion of the legal entity which is personally
> uninteresting as it was when it sprang up. Either propose to become
> part of a larger org -- ACM comes to mind -- or form a 501(c)]


>
> But so far, I see all these trends with the DP group to centralize
> centralize centralize! And yet that's the wrong model for the web! And
> it's the wrong model for a group that espouses choice and
> portability!

Agreed again. DP (the organization) should be about enabling and spreading.

> [omitted: a comparison of previous advocacy efforts with DP's progress
> and trends in social networks]


>
> My point in all this is to try to tease out some clarity, which, after
> months of debate and discussion, still seems lacking from the core.
> Yes, I get it that data portability is about moving/syncing/copying/
> streaming data around the web. Ok, fine. And I get that there are
> technologies that help you accomplish that, cool. I also get that
> raising the visibility of the story of the need for both more data
> portability and for more business models that are compatible with data
> portability is a worthy thing to pursue. What I don't get is how, with
> all this structure, and with a logo, and with technical best
> practices, and with a monthly message you're doing anything but
> amplifying what's already being done, and what's already going on, or
> that will happen, with or without you.

Structure: agreed; we've spent way to long on it. Logo: ditto; frankly I
think we should have pushed back on the last C&D as there was little to no
risk of confusion in the marketplace, but IANAL.

Practices and monthly messages, however, stand a chance of being useful
they're used to reflect the spotlight occasionally shined on DP to the
efforts of others *without claiming credit or even involvement*. That's
advocacy in its purest form.

> If you want my advice, and I started to provide this with my proposal
> for the video project, the central group needs to focus on providing
> simple tools and effective methods for individuals who are interested,
> to pick up the banner of data portability, and to articulate an
> expression of what is broken about the web today, and how they want it

> to be fixed. [omitted: elaboration of this]

I couldn't possibly agree more.

> If you wanted to do something super useful, [go] find the specific
> instances where things are breaking down[,] round up the host of
> problems that follow when people who just want to connect [...] are
> stymied by the way in which technologies works[...]. Start to array
> those into "problem:solution" sets, [and] clearly articulate the
> opportunity that you're presenting [...] this is simple, this is


> elegant, this is much needed, and it also focuses you on the real
> world, and gives anyone out there on the web the opportunity to
> contribute to helping ameliorate the problems that plague us because
> our technologies are not yet really working for us, in the ways that
> we desire, and the ways that we know are possible.

Yes.

If we do this, I'll re-engage and spend time on this project. If we don't,
I'll lurk and spend time elsewhere.

Remember, there was no intention to insult nor hostility in this; if you
read it that way, please consider that it's been written in five minute
sprints between meetings, reread, and seek the non-mean meaning.

--j

[1] For example, I witnessed an exchange between a member of W3C engaging
the group via the mailing list, ironing out all of the details mentioned in
the first paragraph in the "choice cuts" section, which starts "It is
unclear to me how you engage with, in particular, standards bodies..."
Picking this nit does not negate the value of later points made, nor the
overall critique.

[2] https://renderman.pixar.com/products/rispec/index.htm

Chris Saad

unread,
May 13, 2008, 8:42:09 PM5/13/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
As discussed in the latest steering group call - please send a
bulleted list of suggestions for project improvements to
elias.b...@gmail.com - Elias is compiling them for the next
steering group call/discussion.

I think it's clear that with major vendors implementing their own
versions of data portability (with varying degrees of openness), this
project, and it's goalto research, refine, document and advocate best
practices for data portability are more important than ever.

As we've stated before - those who would like to help us improve
things should submit and take lead on actionable things within the
group as part of the conversation (rather than big rants).

Those that don't like the way the group works are free to run their
own groups.

Those of us who agree with our goals and can live with our evolving
methods (particularly those with any engineering background) are
encouraged to focus on the Technical Best Practices over in the
Technical Action group. The group is looking for feedback and input.

Chris

On May 13, 4:27 pm, David Recordon <record...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I really agree with what Deepak just said! I drafted this as a start
> of a blog post, never ended up finishing it, but think it fits really
> well here.
>
> Back in December I jumped on a plane and flew out to BarCamp London
> for an awesome weekend of geekiness hosted by Google. Fading in and
> out of my sleepy stupor I was introduced to a site I hadn't seen
> before, one which looked sufficiently geeky, promoting technologies
> that I cared about, with people that I knew listed as being involved,
> and I wanted to be a part of it. That lovely scrappy looking site was
> DataPortability.org.
>
> Fast forward a month to January and the press machine starts to
> churn. Robert Scoble tests a new tool from Plaxo to sync his friends
> from Facebook to Plaxo which results in his account being banned on
> Facebook (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/03/scoble-blocked-from-
> facebook/) due to looking like an attack. Scoble then joins
> DataPortability (http://www.particls.com/blog/2008/01/welcoming-robet-
> scoble-to.html) and the group issues a public invitation to Facebook
> to join as well. From there it only continues in the media as
> Facebook, Google And Plaxo Join The DataPortability Workgroup (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/08/this-day-will-be-remembered-facebook-go...),
> LinkedIn Joins The DataPortability Work Group (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/10/linkedin-joins-the-dataportability-work...),
> ...
>
> read more »

Jim Meyer

unread,
May 13, 2008, 8:51:04 PM5/13/08
to dataportabilit...@googlegroups.com
I need what I hope is a minor clarification:

On 5/13/08 5:17 PM, "Jim Meyer" <jme...@linkedin.com> wrote:
> Originally, the website said that DP's mission was to create
> and advocate a technical reference platform which enables users to

> own and control their data while sharing it meaningfully.

On 5/13/08 5:42 PM, "Chris Saad" <chris...@gmail.com> wrote:
> [...] this project, and it's goal to research, refine, document and
> advocate practices for data portability [...]

Are these two compatible goals? The same thing? Different? I'm unclear.

Thanks in advance!

--j

Chris Saad

unread,
May 13, 2008, 8:55:47 PM5/13/08
to dataportabilit...@googlegroups.com
Hi Jim,a

As discussed in the last face to face meetup at LinkedIn - I dont remember ever writing (certainly never intended) for us to write a reference platform (as in running code) - The deliverables were once called 'technical blueprints' and were since renamed to 'technical best practices'.

The intent was always to document, not to write code.

Projects like DiSo are welcome to do that - as well as vendors who follow along.

Chris
--
Chris Saad

FaradayMedia - For Audiences of One
Particls - Are You Paying Attention?
Engagd - The Open Attention Platform
Media 2.0 Workgroup - Social, Democratic, Distributed
APML - Your Attention Profile
DataPortability - Connect, Control, Share, Remix

Jim Meyer

unread,
May 13, 2008, 9:38:07 PM5/13/08
to dataportabilit...@googlegroups.com
Thanks for the speedy response. One last bit of clarity required.

On 5/13/08 5:55 PM, "Chris Saad" <chris...@gmail.com> wrote:
> As discussed in the last face to face meetup at LinkedIn - I dont remember
> ever writing (certainly never intended) for us to write a reference platform
> (as in running code) - The deliverables were once called 'technical
> blueprints' and were since renamed to 'technical best practices'.
>
> The intent was always to document, not to write code.

I should have been more clear about the distinction between a "reference
platform" or "reference specification", which is more commonly used
referring to software, and which I'll use from here out) and a "reference
implementation".

A reference specification is a collection of very discrete statements which
explain in great detail valid behavior for a thing in one or more specific
circumstances; the HTML 4 spec[1] is an excellent example. It is
documentation, not code.

A reference implementation[2] is the same thing, written in valid,
executable code. It's not required that it be a rich implementation, just
that it answers the specification or standard completely and accurately.

I understand that we're not writing a reference implementation.

Are we writing a reference specification?

--j

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reference_implementation

Chris Saad

unread,
May 14, 2008, 1:25:50 AM5/14/08
to dataportabilit...@googlegroups.com
Yes I believe the blueprints would essentially be "reference specifications".

Chris

Chris Messina

unread,
May 14, 2008, 1:44:03 AM5/14/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
I really appreciate your response Jim. I'll quickly respond to your
direction question and then let this sit.

On May 13, 5:17 pm, Jim Meyer <jme...@linkedin.com> wrote:


> Hmmm. I'm not sure I entirely agree here. I like the example of Pixar's
> RenderMan specification[2]; it completely specifies the behavior of a
> successful rendering engine without constraining the implementation. There
> have been, to date, three implementations that I'm aware of. They've been in
> at least two different languages. As long as they delivered on the spec,
> their (highly technical) audience could write tools which fed the renderers
> properly formatted information which the renderers interpreted into pixels.

I think I agree with you. Still, there typically needs to be some
source behavior in the wild, that has been proven over time (ideally)
before you *extract* best practices. It isn't that you can't define a
bunch of abstract or generic best practices for sites -- or even
proposals for how to technically achieve them. The Password Anti-
Pattern should be on your top hit list for things that need to be
wiped off the face of the web. But I guess I hadn't heard an
articulation of defining a description of behavior of how social
networks should interop and deal with error and failure states and how
to communicate clearly to different types of users with different
permission levels what information they're able to see, to modify, to
extract or copy, and so on.

Instead, the "Technical Best Practices" phrasing, along with the
formats and protocols listed on the homepage, gave me the impression
that these documents, as they have already, would mandate a specific
technology (for example, XRDS is already being mandated along with
OAuth -- good news for me!) rather than a general behavior.

So this is confusing to me. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment
and proposal; what I see on the wiki so far does not reflect this
level of abstraction.


Oh, and by the way, I thought this was great:

Aaron Cheung

unread,
May 14, 2008, 1:58:21 AM5/14/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
Pretty much TechCrunch style and Michael Arrington talking.. (not necessarily a bad thing)..
and yeah, sure, continue to be pretty self-important... actually -- "more important than ever" :-)
sigh..

> Those of us who agree with our goals and can live with our evolving
> methods (particularly those with any engineering background) are
> encouraged to focus on the Technical Best Practices over in the
> Technical Action group. The group is looking for feedback and input.

Data portability is never more technical than political. Everyone knows. Thus the above is
equivalent to saying, you go do the donkey work, just accept me as your political leader :-)

Well, I'm never interested in politics, only in organizational efficiency (and dp specs)..

Aaron Cheung

unread,
May 14, 2008, 5:16:48 AM5/14/08
to dataportabilit...@googlegroups.com
Note that we shall *invent nothing*, henceforth, "reference specifications" would necessarily
refer to specifications of existing protocols. Correct me if this is not correct understanding..
 
Regards,
Aaron.
 
----- Original Message -----
From: Chris Saad
Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 1:25 PM
Subject: [DP.AG.Steering] Re: Consistency, and Direction (Was: Re: [DP.AG.Steering] Re: Official Blog)

Elias Bizannes

unread,
May 14, 2008, 9:11:52 AM5/14/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
Wow.

I write this as someone who has also been involved from day one or
even zero. I write this as someone who doesn't silently sit on the
mailing lists, and actually gives up time to participate - whether it
be calls, writing documentation, tending the wiki, listening to
people's frustrations, interacting with bloggers, speaking at
conferences in my region, welcoming new participants where I can,
responding to comments, and whatever else makes me an active
participant. I must have a lot of time on my hands?

I work 45-50 hours a week on paid work that has no relevance to
DataPortability. I study fulltime doing a post graduate course. I go
the gym four times a week. I have a social life and interact with
people in social settings with people who have a Facebook account and
that's about the extent of their technology use. Doing that with
DataPortability, like others in my situation, is hard and not as fast
as we want it to be.
And yet the loudest, most critical, and most passionate voices come
from people I recognise in name only but definitely not participation.
I guess you've got better things to do apart from now when you do
choose to participate. No I am not targeting you Jim because I
understand your situation. No I am not targeting you Chris (Messina),
because whatever your intentions, you do make good points and I
respect your arguments. Although I will say I am wondering why Phil
had to be such a drama queen. I know why he is frustrated on things
that can be resolved as I've had a chat with him, but his words above
are way stronger than they needed to be.

What it comes down to is this:
1) We quit. Fuck it. Let's listen to the criticism, which is entirely
sourced from one part of the world in Silicon Ego valley despite
DataPortability having multiple participants in more than five
timezones. Let's also write to RRW, Techcrunch, VentureBeat and
whoever else and tell them to plug week in and out the <insert name>
community who have been ignored largely to date outside of ego valley
2) We work on it. Criticism is excellent, and I am glad we can discuss
this openly. But with criticism, comes commitment to put your mouth
where your words are.
3) We go in circles. Because people love to nitpick, criticise, hang
on every word and create new arguments.

DataPortability has captured the attention of the industry. If you are
trying to kill this, you are pissing in the wind. So if you have a
specific problem, become a leader. Because the reason we have so many
weaknesses, is because we are so stretched. Stand up - identify what
we need to do - and help coordinate to get it happen.

What's my point? Communicate your painpoint - and lets discuss it in
bits. Try to shut down this effort, then I ask you to clog up someone
else's inbox. I want to make DataPortability happen. Should we drop
the camel casing? Should we shine spotlights on the people doing data
portability for years? Whatever, sure. The point is, make the case and
we will do. Otherwise, stop talking about the past, stop talking about
what people think, and lets talk about the future and what we think it
needs to look like. If you think DataPortability shouldn't exist -
tough. There are a core group of participants that aren't going to
give up, and whilst Chris Saad is recognised as the face of DP, there
is plenty happening without him and we're more interested in doing
some work. In fact, one of the hardest workers Trent hasn't even
contributed to this discussion, and that's a pretty good reflection of
how things are despite the verbal diarrhoea above.

Nice of everyone to come out of your shells. See you in the next full
moon. If that hasn't put you off, call me on +61 412 338 508 and lets
chat because we could do with plenty more workers.

Aaron Cheung

unread,
May 14, 2008, 9:47:55 AM5/14/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
> 2) We work on it.

Three points, if I may suggest to:

a) remove the 8 third-party logos from the homepage, simply because they are not necessary and creating issues and confusions;
b) remove or reword or relink the "Official Blog" on the footer, or make that tumblr blog the official blog; because letting this
linger on will only stand to create further unnecessary complications;
c) put the FAQ textlink upfront, for the benefit of the new comers.

I don't mean whoever curating the homepage go make an immediate change now. I mean, please look into a), and b), and c).
And am sure other partipants have other suggestions for probable improvements?

Regards,
Aaron.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Elias Bizannes" <elias.b...@gmail.com>
To: "DataPortability.Action.Steering" <dataportabilit...@googlegroups.com>
Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 9:11 PM
Subject: [DP.AG.Steering] Re: Consistency, and Direction (Was: Re: [DP.AG.Steering] Re: Official Blog)


>

Mary Trigiani

unread,
May 14, 2008, 10:15:57 AM5/14/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
Excellent suggestions, Aaron! We are pretty much doing all three, at
least in what I'll put in front of the steering action group on
Monday, for review and discussion.

Do you have any time to help me with reviewing the wiki and chat
threads for "process improvement?" Also, please cross-post your above
comment on this page:
http://groups.google.com/group/dataportabilitycommunications/browse_thread/thread/b01786be6336bd4c?hl=en.

Thanks -- and I look forwad to hearing more from you! Mary

Aaron Cheung

unread,
May 14, 2008, 11:03:27 AM5/14/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
Mary,

Oh, so, with all due respect and admirations, there's yet another DP group.. :-)
was hesitant to join, because of already joined too many.. but done, and cross
posted, presumably as a memo.. I'll browse through the chat threads.. but I'm
more of a reader than a contributor.. so probably not much additional opinion,
will see..

Cheers,
Aaron.

Aaron Cheung

unread,
May 14, 2008, 11:13:53 AM5/14/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
Oops, just found that I cross-posted it to a new thread.. (i seldom use the google groups interface, my bad..)
so it's here http://groups.google.com/group/dataportabilitycommunications/browse_thread/thread/96ad480032fca2ba?hl=en
fyi.. /ac.

Mary Trigiani

unread,
May 14, 2008, 1:52:00 PM5/14/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
Sorry to hear you won't be joining us in the work, Aaron. Since we're
weeding, could you delete that new thread and re-post your answer to
this thread: http://groups.google.com/group/dataportabilitycommunications/browse_t....

Thanks!

Aaron Cheung

unread,
May 14, 2008, 10:24:03 PM5/14/08
to DataPortability.Action.Steering
Yeah it's nicer to keep notes more streamlined.. just had that fixed -- deleted the new thread and reposted to the 'How to do the
blog' thread..
Re joining, well, too late, have joined.. ;-) Was basically saying that I'll try to be less noisy.. for already said too much.. :-)
Cheers, Aaron.
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