Presented by David Recordon of the Open Web Foundation, and works at SixApart
“Open data is increasingly important as services move online” - Tom O’Reilly (OSCON ‘07). We don’t necessarily want to run our own copy of products like GMail - but we need uninhibited access to our data everywhere. This requires open specifications / open APIs and open data access.
He has a cool looking device (it was free swag from Yahoo) that is a GPS locator that works with satellites so that anywhere he is in the world, he can press a button and it will upload his location and a distress call. It works with several services, including Yahoo maps to provide open access to his location data so that it can be focused on his website (or he could create “WhereIsDaveDrinking.com”).
Social applications like Twitter / Dopplr / Digg / Last.fm are interesting examples of social networks that would benefit from open standards. However, some things are broken. He shows us Digg’s registration page - 12 fields, all required. Then on many sites after you have registered, you have to hand over some password to your address book so that you can import your contacts. We shouldn’t be handing out our passwords to our GMail (example) accounts - since that’s also the same password for AdSense, Checkout, etc. It’s like this for many sites.
PROBLEM: you may be a member of over 20 social networks. How many can you possibly keep up with before you break? We need interoperable platforms - the OpenSocial specification (and the Apache Shindig project) is addressing this.
Another project that he mentions, and one I want to look into is pinax. It calls itself “a platform for rapidly developing websites” - a tool for developers.
David is mainly part of three of these open specifications communities: OpenID, OAUTH and OpenSocial.
PROBLEM: If your company is creating or thinking of praticipating in an open standard or specification, there are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding intellectual property, patents, and other legal problems. We need a way of having something similar to open source licenses to apply to open specifications.
David’s organization is looking at creating the following things for open specifications:
- Licensing (freely implementable by anyone)
- Copyright (ideally Creative Commons for each spec)
- Community (to support the Open Web)
- Incubation (creating new open specifications for the web)
You’ll notice that those are the key things that Apache provides for the open source community. Listening to everything that David and his organizations are going through right now helps me to appreciate how much the Apache Software Foundation has done for the open source software community.
- While I am not a huge social network participant, it’s obviously a large part of the web now. We must have a way to meld all of these separate platforms together.
- Social networks are almost becoming like operating systems in many ways - and they are mostly as separated as operating systems - no enough interoperability.
- There will be legal ramifications to figure out while opening up the specifications and data.
- I’m not sure who will be the big champion in this open spec / open data arena, but I am sure that it will be a difficult project - to do it right, anyway.