I’ve been on a bit of a data portability binge over the past few days. I wasn’t going to write anything more about it until I came across Andrew Chen’s post arguing that Metcalfe’s law is “a DIRECT reason why these networks want to get as big as possible, and have a social graph that’s as comprehensive as possible, and why they should ultimately be opposed to Data Portability.”
Andrew is echoing my original thoughts that I posted on Saturday but by the end of the weekend my perspective had been transformed. While I agree that social network sites want to have a social graph that’s as comprehensive as possible, I don’t think that opening up will prevent them from getting there. If each site opens up, it means that the users are free to move around as they please.
Right now they can move around freely but transferring data is typically impossible. At every event I go to I always here the statement “a rising tide lifts all boats.” If the application developers are living by this motto why not the big players? It appears as though Facebook, MySpace and other competing sites want to protect that which made their site so valuable in the first place: the users.
As I wrote this morning, it’s not just about the data stored in the system, it’s about the flow of the data. The more that Facebook lowers their walls, the more that data can easily flow through. I have finally begun to believe that Facebook’s user base will not decrease due to data portability. Instead, it will continue to thrive as it becomes a completely open marketplace.
Do you think data portability will kill social network sites?