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May 18, 2008

The Data Portability Debate Continues...

Reading all the news about social graphing makes me feel good about paying over $300 for my head shot, including the debate going on today on Techmeme about data availability, Facebook Connect and Google Friends Connect. The debate centers around the public information you present in your social networks: Should your friends be able to load that information into an aggregator so they can track their friends from all the various social networks in one place? For parents the question may be: Why do I care?

I think parents should follow this for two reasons:
1. THE OPPORTUNITIES: I am a true believer in online social networking for social and career development. I feel that people who don't have an online presence will miss out the ability to keep in touch with large networks of people online - as well as the "real life" events and invites that are outcomes of those networks. Parents can benefit even more from online networking because they are so limited in time; online social networking allows them to network and socialize even at night - at home - while the kids are asleep.
2. DEVELOPING THE RIGHT ONLINE PRESENCE FOR PARENTS AND THEIR CHILDREN: Knowing that all of this is going on makes it more important for parents to spend time building their own online presence and helping their children protect their own.

One example is to invest in a good headshot not only for yourself but for your children. It is important for parents to help their daughters to understand that while they look great in their new bikini's with a summer tan, their future employers don't need to see that. Or their son may not want to use a drunk party picture in for his headshot -- even though he turned 21 and thinks it is cool to be able to drink  -- because all the relatives and future employers don't need to see that either... There is always room for fun bikini or party pictures - it just important for youth to understand to keep those OFFLINE.

It is also important to manage why type of information is put online. It is great for people to have their own blogs or social networking accounts, just make sure all the information shared is meant to be shared with the public.

The Google Code Blog had a detailed post on how Google Friends Connect works. I don't have any objections to Google Friends Connect or Facebook Connect because it just allows friends to aggregate their friends PUBLIC information. If you can manage what that public information is, then there is no need to fear your friends porting that information to another application. But, if you don't manage your public online presence, then it could be a problem. Here is a link to an interesting post written on the Facebook Developer blog called "Thoughts on Privacy".

The debate gets more complicated because some applications may not want their users to transfer friends information out of the application. I know that once I get settled into an application (like I am with Facebook), I will always go back on a regular basis - even if I am getting updates on in another application.

Related: TechCrunch also has a post on the data portability debate. That post mentions a site Media6(degrees) called that collects social data for advertisers, which shows that not only friends but advertisers may be interested in that data. While that use of my social profile data may make me feel uncomfortable, I would appreciate getting the right advertising sent my way. Maybe we could get to the point that we request the types of advertising we want and exclude the others. Because in the end, I do want to hear about Lands End summer bathing suits for my kids but have no interest in the newest teeny tiny bikini that is in style for women.

For an example of a friend data "aggregator", check out FriendFeed.

What are your thoughts on data portability?


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I completely agree with you.

I think One consistent headshot. One message. No details about your location. Kids. Be sparing.

You just never know if someone is spending hours looking at photos of you or your children...I have too much to say, but hacking and ID theft is too common these days...

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