Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Do We Want? Our Data. When Do We Want It? Now! | Epicenter | Wired.com

"Predictions about the appeal of cloud computing were on the money. We increasingly share, communicate, socialize and entertain ourselves with software and media on remote servers rather than on our own computers. But a big catch prevents more of us from investing much time or money in ephemeral digital media or constantly-changing online services: It can be difficult, if not impossible, to grab your stuff and split.

Say you don’t like the latest redesign of Kodak Gallery, formerly Ofoto. Some complain that the site now uploads photos in the wrong order — by size instead of date, as customer service confirmed — while others don’t like the “buy one thing per year or lose your photos” feature the site unveiled last year.

There’s no easy way for disgruntled customers to migrate their photos back to their own computers or to another service, although clever hacks exist. If you want your photos back, Kodak Gallery advises you to mouse over each photo and click to download them one-by-one.

Who has 60 or 70 hours to spare for downloading their own photos? Nobody we know.

Those who have been burnt by this sort of thing are less likely to trust another online service with memories, music, documents, books or anything else of import. Keeping media and other data locked up not only riles consumers, but could slow the growth of all sorts of online services.

Data portability is a rapidly growing movement among cloud-computing supporters. The idea that the online services we’ve herded ourselves into should let us at least pass from one pen to the next is key, although the nuts and bolts of how open standards will work are still being hammered out.

Here’s how a few of the major ones currently stack up in terms of data portability..."

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