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: