As a Twitter user I am interested in the quest for stability. It was the discussion around dealing with scalability that led me to Eran Hammer-Lahav's thoughtfully considered postings on building a scalable micro-blogging platform This is even referenced on Twitter's own blog. Well one thing leads to another and I realized that Eran was also interested in Data Portability, to the point that his involvement with OAuth has lead to him being recruited by Yahoo as an Open Standards Evangelist. Congratulations Eran!
Eran has some interesting views on the Data Portability initiative. On a number of levels I have to agree with him. I think that the individual open standards such as OpenID, OAuth and Microformats are the places to develop the technical aspects of the respective standards. But DataPortability.org has a valid role to play.
What is the role of DataPortability.org?
Internet standards succeed because they are simple and open.
The potential downfall of DataPortability.org, if it ventures in to the technical domain, is that it will make things more complicated. OpenID works when you can demonstrate to developers how it can be implemented in under an hour. OAuth works when you can demonstrate that you can build an interface once and easily implement it with many other sites.
I have been considering how we can use Open Standards to created a Federated Single-Sign-On that works seamlessly across connected business partners. This seems like an ideal issue in which DataPortability.org can play an important role because creating solutions like Single-Sign-On may require more than one open standard to be implemented - all working together.
If you think about creating a robust OpenID enabled sign-on capability then OpenID may need to be combined with YADIS. Sam Ruby gives a great tutorial on this in his "OpenID for non-super Users" blog post.
So, let's have the individual open standards developers focus on their respective worlds and evolve DataPortability.org to promote the benefits of portability and act as a place where the standards developers can discuss the inter-operability of their respective standards. It can become the place to go to find best practices and prototypes that promote the benefits of combining open standards to meet real-world portability use cases.
For anyone interested in Data Portability or Social Media these issues will be discussed at HealthCampMd being held in Owings Mills, MD on June 14th. Sign up for the conference at http://barcamp.org/HealthCampMd