Having previously talked the talk when it comes to data portability, MySpace is beginning to walk the walk: announcing its own 'data portability' initiative, supported by partners Yahoo, Twitter and eBay.
Dubbed MySpace ‘Data Availability’, users will be able to optionally share their public profile data with participating sites, along with their MySpace photos, MySpaceTV videos, and friend lists.
From the release: “The walls around the garden are coming down—the implementation of Data Availability injects a new layer of social activity and creates a more dynamic Internet,” said Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder of MySpace. “We, alongside our Data Availability launch partners, are pioneering a new way for the global community to integrate their social experiences Web-wide.”
Data Availability on Yahoo: "... users that have chosen to share their MySpace content and data with Yahoo! Instant Messenger might find their MySpace default photo, interests, and favorite music displayed to their Messenger contacts directly in the IM client."
Data Availability on Twitter: "Twitter profiles at present are primarily focused on current updates and are relatively sparse on user information. The MySpace Data Availability initiative enriches the current Twitter profile by empowering users to incorporate their MySpace profile content and data points... a user will be able to bring in their MySpace content and data including their bio, blogs, and photos, ultimately making the Twitter site a more enriching site with content previously unavailable in its interface."
Data Availability on eBay: "eBay profiles can be easily enhanced with MySpace bios, interests, pictures, and videos. In a socially driven marketplace, this will yield a deeper connection between individuals. When browsing or transacting on eBay, the availability of external social information can help users make good decisions quickly about whom they can do business with, and perhaps even make a new friend."
If you've ever wondered why incumbents like MySpace would ever let users take their data with them onto other sites (as I have done), here lies the answer. Under Data Availability, MySpace profiles are essentially synced with partnering sites. Make a change to your MySpace page, and all the optionally linked accounts on other sites are updated. That way MySpace becomes the central data point for controlling your profile and other synced data elsewhere on the Web.
Mike Arrington sums it up nicely:
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.
The end game?
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.
It's not clear, however, what would happen to that MySpace data synced to third-party sites if a user chooses to close their MySpace account. If profile information and other linked data were to disappear -- knocked down like a house of cards -- can we really call that data portability?