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.

To win in an open world Flash is becoming even more open – the result will be applications that reach every platform


Adobe has just announced the Open Screen Project, a broad-based initiative to push Flash’s reach across all digital platforms, including mobile and television. Supporters include BBC, Cisco, Motorola, MTV, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and a host of other consumer technology, content, and mobile companies.

When Living Networks was launched in 2002, I wrote about how Macromedia (which has since been acquired by Adobe) used an open strategy to make Flash a standard in rich media on the web:

Whenever you go to a website and are presented with a snazzy animated introduction, you are seeing Macromedia Flash at work. The free Flash Player software that enables people to view these animations is now running on around 97% of PCs that are connected to the Internet. At the outset, Macromedia had a clear-cut challenge. Web surfers would only download Flash Player if there were interesting websites using Flash, while website designers would only use Flash if a sufficient proportion of their target audience had installed the software. Macromedia makes its money by selling the software for developers to create Flash files, but to make it a viable market it had to give away the Flash Player software.

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After Web 2.0: WOW (Wide Open Web) – enough of version numbers for the web!!


In the wake of the 2008 Web 2.0 expo, now 3½ years since the first Web 2.0 conference in 2004, it seems getting time to work out what will succeed Web 2.0. I always thought that Web 2.0 was a useful and meaningful term, and created my Web 2.0 Framework to help unpack and communicate what it is. The term helped people to understand the nature of the shift from Web as communication to Web as participation.

I’ve also long thought that Web 3.0 is a meaningless term. It means whatever people want it to mean. While we have reached a reasonably common understanding of what Web 2.0 is (though I’m sure others will disagree), I don’t think it’s possible that any consensus will emerge on what Web 3.0 is, making its use a destroyer rather than enabler of communication. The one element that people always associate with Web 3.0 is the semantic web, which has been a very long time coming, and will still be a very long time coming. It’s a tremendous, laudable goal which is still going to take far longer than most people seem to think, so it’s not something we should be talking about in the present. Anyway, the semantic web already has a term to describe it, and it is well defined, so why do we need to use a new term to refer it?

I’ve been a long time student of how business and technology terms are born, brought into widespread usage, debased, and die. I don’t believe that Web 3.0 will be a term that be useful or used. Charles Cooper has just tried to define Web 2.5, which is even worse – yes I agree with him that it’s about time to dump Web 2.0, but the answer is NOT Web 2.5! However we absolutely need new terms to describe where the web is going and what it means.

In my recent post on openness in the Internet I used the term Wide Open Web (WOW). On consideration I think this is a fair suggestion to describe the current and next stage of the web. There are undoubtedly many other possibilities, and I think it’s time for the proposals to come out, so the most relevant and useful term comes into usage, rather than terms such as Web 2.5, that are even more meaningless than Web 3.0, and don’t help anyone understand what is going on.

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The next phase of the Internet will be about creating value from the WOW (Wide Open Web)


So far the primary theme of the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco seems to be openness and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), which I defined in our Web 2.0 Framework as “A defined interface to a computer application or database that allows access by other applications.” Web companies new and old are announcing APIs that provide access to the data that resides on their site.

ReadWriteWeb writes about the next frontier after ubiquitous APIs, an interview of Web 2.0 keynoter Max Levchin focuses on the implications of APIs on every application, and Tim O’Reilly in his keynote says that the paradox is that applications built on open, decentralized networks are leading to new concentrations of power.

In the last weeks I’ve been looking across what is available on APIs, and it is quite extraordinary. Driven significantly by the impetus of Google’s leadership, over the last couple of years the industry has taken a massive turn towards openness, making it hard to run online initiatives any other way.

I am finding myself completely staggered by the possibilities. There are so many ways that this vast trove of information can be used in new and innovative applications. ReadWriteWeb’s article provides a list of the ways APIs can be used. Some of the promising areas I see include:

Content aggregation. Despite the existing proliferation of blog and feed aggregators, there are many more opportunities to create highly specialized content aggregators, bringing together the web’s most relevant content in niche domains.

Collaborative filtering. The richness of information about people’s content preferences available from something like FriendFeed (or the individual feeds that go into it) make it possible to correlate taste across media and genres.

Latent social networks: Suggesting friends or connections based not just on profile or musical tastes, but an integrated view of preferences and activities. This could be particularly powerful in dating.

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