Data portability

13Dec06

I posted yesterday re the value of services that connect people across different forms of social media to create a meta-network. Along with better versions of existing (or altogether new) socialnet features that enable content creation, management and sharing, such third-party offerings could undermine the value of the underlying networks.

A related question, then, is whether people will migrate to new socialnets that either provide more and better features, or that offer tighter and easier integration with third-party services. A primary way incumbent socialnets could mitigate this threat is by locking up a user’s data (i.e. can’t easily export one’s blog posts, photos, friend lists, etc), thereby creating potentially significant switching costs.

Steve O’Hear discusses this issue with some key players in this post on ZDNet:

Outside of the web 2.0 crowd, do users of social software really care about such technicalities as data export? Why should companies support data portability? I put these questions (along with a few others) to four leading developers in the social networking space. Marc Canter (People Aggregator), Andrew Anker (Vox), Tim Spalding (LibraryThing), and Ben Werdmuller (Elgg).

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