Dare to be Open?

This week, influential blogger (and Microsoft employee) Dare Obasanjo kicked up a little controversy with a post he did on Portable Contacts, entitled The Portable Contacts API: Killing the Password Anti-Pattern Once and For All. It is a largely positive piece, making the case for why Portable Contacts makes sense:

The…problem…is that each site that provides an address book or social graph API is reinventing the wheel both with regards to the delegated auth model they implement and the actual API for retrieving a user’s contacts. This means that social networking sites that want to implement a contact import feature have to support a different API and delegated authorization model for each service they want to talk to even though each API and delegated auth model effectively does the same thing.

However, the piece closes with a critique of the process by which Portable Contacts and other open-spec building block are coming into existence:

If anything, I’m concerned by the growing number of interdependent specs that seem poised to have a significant impact on the Web and yet are being defined outside of formal standards bodies in closed processes funded by big companies. For example, about half of the references in the Portable Contacts API specs are to IETF RFCs while the other half are to specs primarily authored by Google and Yahoo! employees outside of any standards body (OpenSocial, OAuth, OpenSearch, XRDS-Simple, etc).

The Gillmor Gang responded by having Chris Messina, one of the key players in the open-spec movement, on as a special guest.

Not surprisingly, we waded in, too, on our weekly show, The Social Web TV. We brought on special guest, Kaliya Hamlin, a.k.a. “Identity Woman,” a facilitator of the open process and key events, like the upcoming Internet Identity Workshop. In the episode, we make sure to point out the positive involvement of Microsoft in the open process to develop the Portable Contacts API. Check it out:

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4 thoughts on “Dare to be Open?

  1. Parantar says:

    something’s wrong with the flash player. can’t play it in my browser

  2. This was a good show — glad you tackled this issue. I might have been mistaken about some of my criticism of Microsoft, but I’ve really tried to work with them on a number of fronts, and yet I still wait to be impressed on *any* front. I’m certainly not holding my breath, but if they embrace PoCo, OAuth or really do something with OpenID, I’ll revisit my hesitancy.

  3. therealmccrea says:

    I hear ya, Chris! I won’t hold my breath either, but not because I think they won’t support these open building blocks, but because I think it will take some time. That said, I think they’re moving in the open direction. We’re definitely seeing participation from folks at Microsoft in the Portable Contacts discussions.

  4. Karen Dayle says:

    First time to visit here i just want to say your blog is so cool! 🙂 Great Job

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