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The Dixie Chicks can make people more innovative.

Posted by Gia Lyons on June 3, 2008

The idea of social data portability – “the option to use your personal data between trusted applications and vendors” – has been around for some time now. The DataPortability Project is focused on consumer-oriented sites, and not corporate internal use. The Project people even say so.

Perhaps it’s time, though, to change that. Let me tell you a story.

I recently got a new job. I decided to “go new” on many things, including a new hairdo (it’s swingy!). Then, I thought, “I know! I’ll update my profile picture!” That’s when I got irritated. See, I belong to… (counting, hang on)… well, damn. I have profiles that include my photo on these social sites:

  • Jive Brewspace (internal deployment of Jive Clearspace)
  • Jivespace (external deployment of Jive Clearspace Community for developers)
  • Clearstep (another external deployment of Jive Clearspace Community for user adoption and other business practices)
  • WordPress
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Last.fm
  • Picasa
  • Twitter
  • Friendfeed
  • GTalk

Ask me how long it took to update my photo across all these sites. Now, think about how I also had to change my place of work, email address, maybe a mobile phone number, etc. Yeah. Now you understand the need for social data portability. But really, that’s just the surface.

So, what’s the data portability picture for the enterprise?

Data portability for the enterprise means blurring even more the lines between enterprise and consumer personal data, and more importantly, making folks more aware of who and what people know, both inside and outside the enterprise.

Let me explain.

Think about all the bits and pieces of your worklife, strewn about all those different systems: HR systems, skills databases, LDAP directories, employee whitepages, LinkedIn, etc. Wouldn’t it be great if you could manage all that personal data from a single spot? It can live where it lives – I would call it data transparency, though, not data portability. This can already be accomplished by using data mapping tools in market today, but it takes some serious customization muscles to pull off, not to mention many lunches and cocktails to woo the czars in charge of all of those internal systems so they play nice.

At least with the consumer sites, this becomes easier when enterprise social software systems support data portability. For example, we announced today that we’re supporting the DataPortability Project, alongside LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, and others. This means that, if you’re using Jive Clearspace inside your enterprise, or Jive Clearspace Community in an external customer and/or business partner environment, your people will eventually be able to plop their LinkedIn or Facebook or other consumer profile information into their Clearspace profile, hopefully with ease and aplomb.

And then, think about all the relationships you’ve created, not only inside your organization, but on all those consumer sites. With everyone supporting the DataPortability Project, I’ll be able to display (not port) all the people I’m connected to out of Facebook, FriendFeed, Twitter, etc., in my intranet and extranet profiles. That way, my colleagues and customers can more easily see who I know, and more importantly, in what context I know them. Context is critical to understanding the nature of a given relationship. Without that understanding, it’s kinda useless to know that I know someone.

Let’s take this idea a step further: Why on earth would anyone I work with want to see who’s music I listen to on last.fm? Because, those folks might actually be valuable contacts within a different context. And, my Jive colleagues might be able to begin a trusted relationship with them based solely on similar music tastes. This is a wonderful way to tap the voices of thousands over time, especially if creating innovative products is your thing.

Imagine what could eventually result from a conversation about how much two people love the Dixie Chicks, for example.

Now, to take this idea another step even further, read Sam’s take on data portability.

5 Responses to “The Dixie Chicks can make people more innovative.”

  1. […] Data Portability seems counterintuitive internally. Gia covers it well on her JiveTalks post and on her blog. Basically, there are all sorts of privacy and legal issues inside a company but it’s a […]

  2. Tim Bray wrote an essay a couple weeks ago talking about this same problem but came up with a different solution:

    http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2008/05/05/Changing-Your-Address

    Instead of us getting our data (ie: we can get our data out of linkedin), we should force websites to look for data in a single place so instead of you updating your image in 10 places, you’d update your image in one place and then all the sites would see that change and update accordingly.

  3. Andrea said

    So I can see it now — all those naysayers out there…”It invades my privacy for you to show my likeness on your internal site” or “what if I don’t want your friends to know about me?” and the like. So, there will have to be rules and governance, and the ability to “opt out” and all of a sudden, you’ve taken away all the social aspects – and made it once again something not worth very much.

    In theory, I think it’s a great idea – in practice – I’m wondering how ready we are, as a society. Personally tho – I’d love the conversations that start with “have you heard this song by…”…..

  4. tylerpdx said

    Just a heads up, your link to Sam’s blog at the bottom is broken.

  5. Gia Lyons said

    Hey, Andrea! I thought the same thing, but then realized that all those consumer sites are public, and that I can usually decide whether to allow others to see my network in most of those sites. So, usecase isn’t different here, it’s just that I’m giving permission to my trusted enterprise social network to see my conusmer social network, in a much easier way than them navigating to all those consumer sites and looking up my network that way.

    Thanks, Tyler! I will fix now…

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