MySpace is announcing a broad ranging embrace of data portability standards today, along with data sharing partnerships with Yahoo, Ebay, Twitter and their own Photobucket subsidiary. The new project is being called MySpace “Data Availability” and is an example, MySpace says, of their dedication to playing nice with the rest of the Internet.
A mockup of how the data sharing will look in action with Twitter is shown above. MySpace is essentially making key user data, including (1) Publicly available basic profile information, (2) MySpace photos, (3) MySpaceTV videos, and (4) friend networks, available to partners via their (previousy internal) RESTful API, along with user authentication via OAuth.
The key goal is to allow users to maintain key personal data at sites like MySpace and not have it be locked up in an island. Previously users could turn much of this data into widgets and add them to third party sites. But that doesn’t bridge the gap between independent, autonomous websites, MySpace says. Every site remains an island.
But with Data Availability, partners will be able to access MySpace user data, combine it with their own, and present it on their sites outside of the normal widget framework. Friends lists can be syncronized, for example. Or Twitter may use the data to recommend other Twitter users who are your MySpace friends.
The data sharing is dynamic, meaning it is updated constantly. And that also means user permission is not a one time thing. At any time a user can change or revoke the rights of a third party to access the data. Those third parties are “being held to strict terms of service,” says MySpace, which prohibits them from storing the data or using it once permissions are revoked.
For now, just the four launch partners will have access to Data Availability, and the features should go live in the next couple of weeks. More partners will be added over time, and MySpace says they eventually want to give even “mom and pop” websites ways to be involved.
What About Open Social?
MySpace is a partner in Google’s OpenSocial project, but this is being done outside of that framework. MySpace says they’ll adopt the Open Social APIs that evolve around data sharing once they are developed and announced.
The Center Of All User Data
Historically MySpace has lagged Facebook in terms of innovation. But they definitely “get it” this time. Sharing user data so openly (with user permission) is a terrific way to incentivize users to store all their core data at MySpace to begin with. Users eventually need one place on the Internet to store their data, or lots of places to store different types of data. But what they don’t want is today’s world where they are recreating and storing the same data over a plethora of social networks just because all those sites refuse to share. We’re starting to see the floodgates open and the idea of data sharing become a reality (thanks largely to the efforts of DataPortability and other activists in this space).
By acting first, MySpace takes the lead and has a shot at being the long term winner – meaning lots of people use MySpace as the place to store data, and share it out to other applications from there. Look for Google to make their move next.
See my post on “The Centralized Me” for more of my thinking on this.