Data portability for your email, searches, calendar, …

Marshall over at ReadWriteWeb notes that in addition to Google, more sites are joining the Data Portability Working Group, which is cool. Data portability is a Good Thing in my book, and I’ve written about general data portability and Google before. So I left this comment:

“Check this out, LinkedIn even posted about the Data Portability issue on their blog today – wouldn’t it be great if Google did that?”

Hey Marshall, I wrote almost a year ago about all the ways that you can take your data out of Google if you want: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/not-trapping-users-data-good/

That includes your searches on Google as well, if you’ve signed up for Web History. I think Eric Schmidt’s comment in 2006 at Web 2.0 that “We would never trap user data” has been borne out. See also this great post by Google OS about backing up your data from Google: http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2007/12/creating-backup-for-your-google-account.html

Making identity portable is interesting and a Good Thing, but personally I’m more interested in making sure that I can get copies of my email, searches, calendar data, docs, feed subscriptions, etc.

20 Responses to Data portability for your email, searches, calendar, … (Leave a comment)

  1. I like the idea on this – did not know about the data portability web site thank you for the link ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Marshall Kirkpatrick

    Thanks Matt. I hadn’t read that comment yet but it’s an honor to get a link here – even of this sort ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Keep up the good work.

  3. No worries, Marshall. It’s an important issue to press on. I’d been meaning to reiterate that you can get your data back out from Google ever since I read http://madisonian.net/archives/2007/11/22/real-online-competition-the-right-to-exit/ over Thanksgiving and said “doesn’t that fellow realize that you can get your Google search history and export it out of Google?” So you happened to trigger a quickie post that I’d been meaning to do. Plus according to Twitter you needed something fun going on today anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. And for anything else, there’s the scary old API.

    (I’m just bitter because I had to write some nasty Python to flee Blogger for Movable Type; it really is TERRIBLY XML-y.)

  5. Matt,
    Can’t argue data portability is a Good Thing. But have you seen Hugh MacLeod’s latest on this? (Not necessarily SFW). It’s amazing the companies that don’t get this.

  6. m1t0s1s

    hey! I thought you were suffered from MEGO when it came to data portability*cough*xml*cough*?

    Check out this seo-related spam I got, it’s a doozy:

    Would you write for my Arts Weblog?

    I’m searching for people that would be happy to write a small

    800 words article for my Music and Arts Weblog.

    I’ll include also 5 lines about you with links and email.

    Could be a nice experience! My Weblog is very successful!

    Let me know! Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚


    xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxx, xxxxxxxx
    xxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxx, xxxxxxxxxxxx, xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx

  7. m1t0s1s, data portability is cool. It’s the XML that is yawn-inducing — to me personally. If that’s someone else’s bag, then they’re a better man (or woman) than I.

  8. Well Matt, your “not trapping users” post from last year seems to make a good argument at first, but IMHO makes one realize even more how much data is still locked inside Google – specficially the actual so-called attention data.

    For example, exporting an OPML file from Google Reader is hardly Google “opening up”. What would be really beneficial to end-users in the long-run is the ability to access a user’s feed reading habits, click history, etc. And of course, an official Google Reader API (not in the form of an inflexible and overly simplified AJAX solution) would also be nice.

  9. The recent data portability efforts by all the players are very reassuring and is beginning to make me feel better about the future of my data out there on the Internet.

    What really makes me feel warm & fuzzy is full API access to my data that Google gives me.

    I guess this doesn’t mean much to the non-developing average joe.

  10. It seems we have not yet defined Data Portability.
    So what are we talking about? ๐Ÿ™‚


  11. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <Matt_Cutts>
    <XML_Interest>false</XML_Interest>
    <Mad_Nerd_Skillz>-1</Mad_Nerd_Skillz>
    </Matt_Cutts>

    I’m not 100% convinced Data Portability is a good thing (although XML is mad dope shizzle fo’ sho’, yo.) The big problem that I can see is the number of people who will want to get at anything from anywhere and set usernames and passwords such as “admin”, “password”, etc.

    That’s a bit generalized, but you get the idea.

  12. Sweet! The <code> tags work here. The overall geekiness of this site will increase by at least 5% following this important discovery.

  13. It is remarkable that the one post by Scoble had so much viral impact in just one week among the Web 2.0 crowd. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    There were probably others who are losing data – but they do not have a high profile pulpit to reveal.

  14. Omar Yesid Mariรฑo

    That sounds good but I cannot understand exactly what you mean with this new technology. Maybe you can do a post for the newbies.

  15. Chris

    I use Apple’s .Mac feature and it accomplishes this pretty well. Given that at $99 a year .Mac is still alive I have to imagine there’s enough demand, even on a typical consumer level, for at least basic data portability. Given the (sorta) recent notMac initiative I have to imagine there’s waaaaaaaaay more demand for it without that hefty price tag.

    As a person that works exclusively on Macs I am lucky to have all of my mail, bookmarks, calendars, contacts, passwords, and preferences automatically synched across *all* of my computers, but I am of course in the vast minority. It’s nice to see that someone is working on bringing this to life in a less proprietary format because it truly is a game changer.

  16. I didn’t know about some of the back up tools Google offers. Thanks for the notice ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. One of the things that was brought up in your last post about getting data out of Google was that you can’t export chats from your Gmail history. As far as I can tell, that’s still the case.

    If there was a setting to enable chats to show up in Gmail via POP/IMAP, I’d be all over that.

  18. Lars Borup jensen

    Not to something quite different! Why doesn’t Google host a “reversed” / “upside-down” day on their search results? “Simply” change ascending to descending on scores? It’ll give a nice change for once ๐Ÿ˜‰

    just a thought

  19. I just posted a rant about this yesterday. Nothing against the companies involved, but a group is only useful if you are doing something. If you look at the dataportability.org site, there is limited content and they are not hitting the issues yet. Maybe Scolbe’s recent issues will bring it more to the forefront.

    The link below is my “summary” on what they have so far.
    http://regulargeek.com/2008/01/11/what-does-data-portability-mean-to-you/

  20. I agree with Matt. It’s easy to get starry-eyed over “foundational” concepts like data portability, and the balls that you want to keep your eyes on are really the applications themselves.

    Standards can cut both ways — they can both be enablers and detriments to application flexibility, and have sometimes been purposely used to constrain, even while their ostensible purposes were exactly the opposite.

    Having said that, it is true that sunlight is better than cesspools in these environments, and to the extent that the portability project encourages the former it may indeed have very significant positive contributions to make.

    Of course the proof is in the eating, so to speak.

    –Lauren–
    Lauren Weinstein
    lauren@vortex.com

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