Data Politics

When I was a freshman in college, I went to my school's club fair.  I like the idea of helping change this country for the better, so I checked out the school's political clubs--the young democrats and the young republicans.  I had visceral reactions to both because it seemed like they were more into politics than they were into progress.

That's how I feel about Hilary Clinton.  She ran a good fight, but she can't win--she doesn't lead in the popular vote, the delegate count, the superdelegate count, or in campaign funding--yet her interest in furthering her political career has gone beyond what's good for the party and what's good for the country.

"Politics for the sake of politics" is kind of what I feel like when I read Chris Messina's post about Data Portability.  Chris is a good guy and working really hard for what he believes in, but complaining about which technologies are featured on the Data Portability front page...   *shivers*...    Makes me totally not want to get involved at all.  It's like arguing whether Dave Winer invented RSS.  As far as I can tell, some combination of Nick Bradbury and Dick Costolo invented RSS, because Feedburner and Feed Demon are the most useful tools I had related to it. 

And I can imagine what those Data Portability meetings are like, too.  Arguing over which standard to adopt, figuring out a way for Google and Facebook not to "own" it all...    You know what, just lock up my data somewhere safe and try not to lose it.  We're talking about data portability, but meanwhile it seems like every other week someone loses my data in a cardboard box full of server tapes.  Monster, Visa...  Who's in charge of protecting my data over in these places?  Courtney Love?

Speaking of music...

Nothin' to do and no where to go-o-oh I wanna be se-DATA-ed.

Most of this open data stuff has been a helluva lot of political and PR posturing, like on who's joining or not joining Data Portability.  One thing I can guarantee is that everyone who joins that workgroup is self-interested and won't agree to anything that doesn't lose them money or positioning.  It feels no better than ClownCo...  oh... wait... Hulu, that's right.  Damn, I liked the original name better.

Face it.  No one cares about the user but the user.  And you know what?  The user doesn't even care about data portability either.   These are people that pay almost a hundred bucks for mobile plans and phones that are years behind the rest of the world.  They pay almost a hundred bucks for crappy television.  They pay another fifty bucks for broadband more fitting of a third world country.   You think they care about syncing up their Facebook friends with their LinkedIn contacts?  Most of 'em, believe it or not, don't even know what LinkedIn is.  You know what they think when they visit the "jail" that is Facebook?

"Oh, look, Mary's single again...   I gotta try to hit that."

"Oh, look how drunk Tommy was... what a funny picture."

"Oh, look, someone threw an electric hamburger at me."

So while you're out there trying to publish and share open standards, Facebook is building a tool that follows many of Scott Heif's 50 Reasons...    It's fun, because people will think they're a loser if they're not on it, because it gets them sex and/or love, etc.

When Microsoft builds something useful that solves a problem for me, I'll use it.  I don't care if it locks me in.   Plaxo used to be spammy and now they build a useful tool, so I'm using it.   Altruism and politics aside, if it's useful, they will come...  and they will come not because it's open or decentralized or because Google doesn't own it.

And while I'm at it, all the open financial publishing standards in the world aren't going to prevent the next big accounting scandal either.

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