Contacts and owning your own data

John Batelle, Marc Andressen and Dan Rosenzweig talk about lessons learned

Oh I'm in such a funny mood after listening to Harry talk about the joys of Mac for 30mins earlier last night. And its getting very late now, but I had to write something about these contact sharing services which are bouncing up everywhere.
Bebo, Plaxo and Ringo is one of the three on the tip of my toungue which I remember. How much of a pain is it to use these services when they do not interoperate at all. Hello Gap in the market. Wouldnt it be great if there was a service which interoperated with not only your outlook contacts but your mozilla, ical, etc contacts and stored them in an interopable format like RDF (yes you can see where I'm going with this) Friend Of A Friend has been used in social networks for quite some time now, why dont these contact services use FOAF profiles which people put on there blogs? Why should I need to enter in the same contact information into different services? Hell why do I need these services when I have a FOAF profile? As someone once commented Here's to owning your own data

Update, I just finished listening to a IT Conversation podcast titled Lessons Learned, Future Predicted by Marc Andressen and Dan Rosensweig. One of them (i think it was Marc) talks about how the client walled garden is a mistake and the real walled garden is now the data.
Roughly this is the key point, Not a blockquote sorry…

Its striking if you list the amount of things you can't do. There's no personal service on the internet, yahoo or anyone which allows you to get your personal profile out and import it into some other service. Theres no job service which allows you to do that. All the search engines which track your search history and take that somewhere else. You can't take your Amazon recommendations and take them somewhere else. Your ebay repurtation, or even your mail. You can't take your online mail from one provider to another. its difficult or impossible. Its striking the pattern which is being setup, the level of lock in which is being setup which makes perfect sense from a business stand point. But it is some kind of propitery lock in which is as strong as the lock in you use to have at the software level.

Marc – It is the form of locking for the next 10 or so years…. Doug Kaye later presses both the panel guests about open data and attention data. but does not really get a answer worthy mentioning. However someone talks about FOAF and how a couple of services support it for importing and exporting. I can also say Audioscrobbler also supports FOAF exporting now. Here is my FOAF profile from audioscrobbler which is nothing like my own personal FOAF profile. Enough said really… By the way Its also interesting that Bebo and Ringo are running on the same software or are the same company!. I guess this strikes myself as the example Dan talked about, where AOL would not allow interop between AIM and ICQ even thought they owned both services! Crazy! own your own data because these services cant even get the simple things right.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and