There are reports this morning from TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington, CNET’s Caroline McCarthy, and Mashable’s Adam Ostrow that MySpace will launch “Data Availability” today, delivering the code to back up their hastily launched press release of a few weeks ago.
It’s great to see the rush now to deliver various initiatives to tear down the walls that keep users from their data. Google has Friend Connect live on several sites in partnership with Plaxo. MySpace is making Data Availability available to all developers this afternoon. And Facebook is generally expected to deliver on the promise of Facebook Connect later this summer (perhaps at F8).
That said, I don’t believe the initial implementation of MySpace Data Availability will deliver on what those of us pushing to open up the Social Web are hoping for. The restrictions on participating third parties are so severe as to be impractical; specifically, caching of the data is prohibited. Rather than the walled garden castle lowering the drawbridge, this is more like opening the curtains.
What users should demand is convenient, secure, and unrestricted access to their data. That means the ability to have full interoperability between any of the tools and services they use, including operations like import, sync, and delete.
Service operators, if you love your users’ data, set it free. If they love you, they will not leave. Instead, they will appreciate the convenience of interoperability that you are enabling.
UPDATE: I recommend the analysis by David Chartier over at Ars Technica.