While I’m all for being able to take my social network profile with me and plug it in wherever I want to, my data should not merely be portable in such a one-dimensional fashion. My data and, by extension, the content that I produce, should be entirely portable according to my preferences.
The current talk about data portability is the idea of the Centralized Me, like what FriendFeed does with aggregating all the content you create elsewhere on one service. Loic Le Meur points out that FriendFeed and similar services are hosted elsewhere, beyond your control. He wants his lifestream hosted at his blog, so he has entire control over it.
While I too want control over the presentation of my centralized lifestream, this methodology still requires decentralized content creation.
I create a lot of online content: I blog here, I have a video blog, a YouTube account, a del.icio.us account, a Twitter account, a Flickr account, a Facebook account, a LinkedIn account, and a FriendFeed account just to name merely the most popular. I have a lot of other social media accounts.
What I want is a single account from which to create my online content; a place–it would ideally be a plugin to my browser–where I can upload videos to my YouTube and Facebook and MySpace or other video sharing accounts, where I could post microblog posts to Twitter and Pownce and Jaiku, where I could upload photos to Flickr and Facebook and MySpace.
What I’d like is fine-tuned control over where my content would go so I could check off the sites where my video content would be published: YouTube, check; Facebook, check; MySpace, check, Blip.tv, check. And on down the list from my blog content to my Tweets to my bookmarks, etc.
Finally, I’d like to centralize my communities as well, so I could follow my conversations in the same place: Follow my Twitter friends’ Tweets, my Facebook friends’ activities, etc.
It is, after all, the user generated content, broadly defined, that gives these social sites their value. Let me pick my one main site I want to hang out at–Facebook, for example, but let me aggregate all my content and centralize my content creation in one place and give me the choice of with whom I want to share my content.
That is true data portability.