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Revision as of 21:39, 18 December 2007 by Tantek (talk | contribs) (updated with new mirrored URL for "Microformats: Evolving The Web" at WE05 podcast.)
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Data Portability


Data portability is about you, the user, being able to move and use your data across space and across time.


  • your data - whether you created it or purchased it
  • across space - different websites, different devices, different media, different applications, space-shifting in general
  • across time - archiving at one point in time, retrieving at another point in time, time-shifting in general

Relation to microformats

Data portability was, and remains, one of the incentives behind the development of microformats, and now microformats have provided key building blocks for enabling or improving data portability across a variety contexts:

  • contact information portability. hCard has lowered the barrier to sharing contact information on the Web compatibly with the industry standard vCard (RFC 2426) format.
  • event portability. With hCalendar, it is possible to upload an event from one calendar site to another and the portability of iCalendar (RFC 2445) data has also been enhanced for the Web.
  • social-network-portability
  • ...

Previous work

Data portability has been an important topic for quite some time, our work today stands on the shoulders of that earlier work. Here are a few illustrative citations/examples:

  • 2001 founded by Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer. key achievements:
  • 2005 September Tantek Çelik's 2005 presentation on "Microformats: Evolving The Web" at Web Essentials 05 began with and emphasized numerous specific user scenarios and points of why data portability matters to every digital citizen, including:
    • email archival, retrieval, search, export/import to new applications
    • photo archiving
    • accessing old archives
    • accessing different disk formats, with different hard disk peripheral interfaces (SCSI, Firewire, USB)
    • reading old file formats
    • transferring your data when upgrading (or just replacing) a personal computer
    • historical fragility of online-only data stores (e.g., which terminated access without warning and thus effectively "lost" all their users' data).
    • partial recoverability of files from hard disk crashes or other corruption
    • "You control your own data" - users should own their own data
    • Incentives for companies to support open formats: do the right thing, build user trust, easier importing/growth, network effects, outgrow the competition (or established proprietary players)
    • ...
    • after the event. The original podcast of this session had thought to be (ironically) lost (was published originally at: but went offline sometime in 2006). However, I was able to recover a copy of it that had been downloaded from some archives, and as the podcast was Creative Commons licensed, I have mirrored it on (download mp3) and link to it from the 2005 podcasts archive page on the wiki. -Tantek