MySpace embraces “data availability” – a major step forward to the Wide Open Web

MySpace has just announced its Data Availability program, which includes adoption of a range of DataPortability standards, and data sharing with Ebay, Yahoo, and Twitter. Detailed coverage of this at TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, VentureBeat, and many others (see Techmeme). At the same time, MySpace has joined Google, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Digg and others on the DataPortability project. DataPortability notes:

While the participation and endorsement of large vendors such as MySpace in the DataPortability project is a key part of our overall goals of industry wide user-centric data portability, we’d like to re-iterate that the project is an open, grass-roots initiative. This means that individuals, startups and medium scale companies are just as welcome to join the process and have just as much capacity to influence or even lead the discussions and the outcomes.

An important part of the background to this is that Ben Metcalfe is Director of Engineering for the MySpace Platform. Ben has played an important role in getting MySpace to understand the importance of an open approach (see his thoughts on this announcement), drawing on his experience in leading the BBC’s developer platform, and his existing involvement with DataPortability. I caught up with Ben recently in San Francisco and we discussed where data portability is going. Absolutely the leadership of the large players is fundamental to driving this.

This year there will be many announcements of this kind, but this is a particularly important one, both through the visibility of the announcement, and even more importantly the value of what it enables. The millions who are using multiple platforms such as MySpace, Yahoo, Twitter and so on will be able to bring together their activities, and clearly see that we are transcending the closed web. People will begin to understand that the natural format of the web is open, with our activities naturally flowing across applications. Expectations will heighten, and the already rapid pace towards the Wide Open Web will accelerate.