Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Google continues it's drive towards Data Portability...

Larry Dignan over at ZDNET wrote a post today entitled “Google ramps up its data portability as a weapon push” which discusses the further roll-out of Google’s Data Portability initiatives. Good stuff to be sure, and I hope it doesn’t end there.

My comment:

“Nobody seems to care about Data Portability until they need it and are denied access. Companies support Data Portability when it is good for them and it doesn’t conflict with their larger agendas, otherwise it is mostly ignored. And, of course, all of this changes on a moment’s notice and subject to the prevailing wind.

The real power of true Data Portability lies in its ability to extend and enhance not only existing services like Google and Facebook, but to facilitate entire ecosystems that reward innovation, value-add, and usefulness while chastising the walled gardens and private silos – or at the very least keeping them in their place.”

--Steve Repetti
Chairman, DataPortability.org

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Data Portability Wars : Google and Facebook vs. YOU

Well, here we go again.

The big companies love to embrace data portability and the freedom it provides its users, not to mention the press and good will that comes with it, as long as it doesn’t conflict with their corporate agenda.

Let’s call it what it is: Facebook and Google both support “convenient” data portability --- at all times convenient for them, *sometimes* convenient for you.

Google and Facebook have both flirted with data portability and it was generally taken as a good sign when both hired leading open source/data portability advocates (Chris Messina and David Recordon respectively). Facebook’s APIs and social graph integration, as well as Google’s Takeout initiative, have been shining examples of the net result of this effort.

Still, despite these advances, both companies continue to “play” with your data – to your detriment. Back in February, Google removed an existing feature from its Android mobile phone operating system specifically to make it more difficult for users to integrate their Facebook contacts (Nexus S losing Facebook contacts sync as Google tightens data policy).

The latest salvo in this escalating war occurred while the US celebrated its Independence day holiday weekend: Facebook disabled a critical feature used to export your friends data (Facebook blocks Google Chrome extension for exporting friends). This appears to be a direct response to Google’s recent moves further into social networking: Google+ (Facebook blocks friend export tool in Google+ snub ).

The reality is that we gave both companies the right to monkey with our data. We accepted their terms of service when we joined their services and we continually agree when they make changes – for better or worse. And, while a few have left in protest, it is not practical to expect much more.

Let’s call it what it is: Facebook and Google both support “convenient” data portability --- at all times convenient for them, *sometimes* convenient for you. And maybe that’s ok. After all, they are commercial enterprises answerable to boards and shareholders and subject to their leadership within.

I get it. Information is an asset, and why would anyone fiscally responsible intentionally dilute or give away an asset?

And therein is the conflict. Us versus them, my data versus their monetization of it.

I hereby challenge Google, Facebook, and all other interested parties to sit down at a DATA PORTABILITY SUMMIT and figure it out together.

This is complicated stuff. If Google and Facebook truly want to be the global purveyors of information that they purport to be, they’ll figure it out – or leave opportunity for the next company to come along and get it right. But the first thing they need to understand is that they cannot do it alone. When crafting global policy regarding user’s data they must include the user, otherwise they are simply more walled-gardens of varying heights.

So, before this thing spirals any further, let’s talk about it.

As Chairman of the International non-profit Data Portability organization, I hereby challenge Google, Facebook, and all other interested parties to sit down at a DATA PORTABILITY SUMMIT and figure it out together. Name the place, name the time – or your users will. Now is your chance to truly show leadership on a global scale. But know this: that coveted asset of information you possess exists solely because of your users. It’s ok to be capitalistic, and its good not to be evil, but it’s time to make data portability convenient for us all.

Interested in the DATA PORTABILITY SUMMIT? Let me know: steve@radwebtech.com

Steve Repetti
Chairman, DataPortability.org

READ THIS ON THE DATA PORTABILITY BLOG: http://blog.dataportability.org

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Google Unleashes New Data Portability Initiative: Google Takeout

Google today unveiled a new service that provides advanced Data Portability across its diverse platform. Google Takeout (http://www.google.com/takeout) makes it easy to extract your data from a variety of Google Services including: Buzz, Contact and Circles, Picasa Web Albums, and Profile. The information is provided in a variety of formats, including vCard and JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), and can be quickly downloaded onto your local computer.

In many ways this is not unlike the Data Portability initiatives over at Facebook, and it is certainly a welcome addition to the Google universe. And now that Google is moving more into the social networking space with its just announced Google+ project (http://plus.google.com), the value of Google’s Data Portability efforts to its end-users will likely substantially increase.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Data Portability Applauds US CIO, Mourns Departure

Today, friends of Data Portability lost an ally in their cause when the Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, announced he will be leaving his post in August. Mr. Kundra was the first-ever Chief Information Officer of the United States. During his tenure, Mr. Kundra championed the use of open standards, cloud computing, accessibility, and data portability through a variety of initiatives but lately saw his budgets slashed almost to the point of ineffectiveness. The irony of this is that his cost-saving initiatives netted the Government billions in savings, yet he was unable to save his own projects.

We are at a time when information is instantaneous and permeates every aspect of our lives. Data portability, privacy, and accessibility are the heart of the matter and leadership in this area is game changing on a global scale. If we screw this up we become second fiddle to those that do get it. Mr. Kundra was on the right path, and we at the Data Portability organization applaud his efforts as he re-enters the private sector. We wish him well at his new post at Harvard and hope his voice and passion never lose their strength.

Through this all, our Federal Government and politicians would do well to reassess the importance of the initiatives brought forth by real-world need and championed by Mr. Kundra, for failure to do so will be the real loss felt by the people and businesses of this country.

--Steve Repetti, Chairman, DataPortability.org

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Last Friday I was invited to speak along with the Hatchery at the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Adams Center for Entrepreneurship. FAU’s previously held business plan competition was such a success that they wanted to capitalize on the momentum that was generated and provide additional value to the talent that had emerged. As a result, the one-day workshop was created targeting Startups to help them “Increase Business Readiness for Investment and Growth.”

Topics included: Market Need, Revenue/Business Models, Investment Potential and Readiness, Proof of Concept, Hurdles – Ideas & Strategies, Digital Marketing, Crowd Funding, and Legal considerations. My presentation was about Investment Potential and Readiness.

The allotted time was 45 minutes, however my speech ran over by 55% --- no one left and no one stopped me. I guess that was good, either that or the door was looked. Anyway, my friend Marc Kaplan was good enough to video the presentation – although he missed the first 5 minutes and it took him another couple of minutes to stop shaking the camera! Here’s the full presentation minus the first few minutes: (Watch the large-screen version directly on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lca6GvPDZwY)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Miami Startupbus Rolls in to Baton Rouge!

[This is a copy of a comment I posted to a great article regarding the Baton Rouge team on the Miami startupbus - photo credit John Berjarano]

As a tech executive, technology investor, and the person who ran the Miami Startupbus, I was blown away by the talent of the team from Baton Rouge. Great things will come from these individuals and I am both proud to have met them and look forward to doing business with each of them in the future. More so, it felt like the entire city of Baton Rouge turned out to welcome us and embrace this crazy startup phenomenon --- this microcosm of real-life condensed to the confines of a bus and executed in less than “internet time”.

This was a challenge, a competition, a search for talent and spirit and passion. What we found in Baton Rouge was all of this and more and cannot be explained simply in words. It truly is an experience, an entrepreneurial culture thriving and expanding beyond the limits of the city. I am honored to have been part of all of this and humbled at the opportunity to meet and share and enjoy the experience with the businesses, educational institutes, and governmental communities of Baton Rouge.

It is true that this year we had six buses from all over the country filled with entrepreneurs – a group representing the future of startups in this country. It is not by accident that the only place in the country that two of the buses came together during this journey was Baton Rouge.

Having recently invested in a startup from the LSU incubator, I know about the entrepreneurial spirit in Baton Rouge – and now the whole world does too! Thank you to all that helped make this happen, thank you to my friend Terry Jones, and thank you to everyone lucky enough to call Baton Rouge their home!

Warmest regards,

Steve Repetti
Miami Startupbus “Conductor”

Here's the original article thaat inspired my post: http://digbatonrouge.com/article/birthing-a-business-on-a-bus-483/

Friday, January 7, 2011

Data Portability 2011 - Call to Action++

If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I have been advocating the principals behind data portability for some time. More so, I am quite active in the organized effort surrounding data portability – first as a general participant in the International non-profit, then as a board member, officer, and most recently vice-chair.

Now, I am honored and humbled to have been elected as the 2011 Chairman of the Silicon Valley-based non-profit DataPortability organization (http://www.dataportability.org). I have big shoes to fill as the result of all of the good that has come from the efforts of my predecessors, but I am excited, energized, and surrounded by terrific folks who share the passion and vision of data portability.

2011 is poised to be a banner year in the world of data portability. Increasingly the subject commands leading headlines as the Facebooks and Googles of the world run head-on into the will of their users. And, prior DP efforts, including the DPP-initiative “Portability Policy”, are on the verge of hitting mainstream. Exciting times. Truly. And I for one consider myself fortunate to be on the front line of all of this. But so too can you. Join us in this effort. Effect a change. Influence a direction. Solidify a policy. Join the data portability movement today!


Steve Repetti
DataPortability Chairman