Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Web 2.0^2.0

One worrisome trend with the shift to web-based applications and services is that your data no longer live under your control. Companies have outages, cancel products, go out of business, etc. With local data, you can back up to physical media or use an online service. Data important to you can disappear, and you can do nothing about it. This is a problem, which means it's also an opportunity.

Any Web 2.0 startup worth using gives you access to your data. GMail supports POP and IMAP, Blogger and Facebook have APIs, and nearly everyone has some kind of RSS feed. It's too much to expect the average person to use those protocols directly. What we need is a product to do it for us, something that knows how to talk to Flickr or Tumblr or whatever and get a copy of our data somewhere safe.

This product would take one (or both) of two forms. One would be a web-based service. That's a gimme for a Web 2.0 offering. You pay them $5/month, they suck down and store your data. Naturally, they themselves would need a 2-way API. They'd have plugins for all the sites their customers use. You'd be able to view your emails or tweets or whatever on the site to make sure they're there. You'd also be able to download all that data in a single blob that you could back up yourself locally. Perhaps there would be two levels of service, one where they store your data, and the other where they merely provide a single point of access. They would also provide some way to reconstruct an account from their backups in case the original service had a catastrophic failure.

The other possible form would be as a desktop application. After all, if the goal is to protect you from failures in web-based services, a web-based service might seem beside the point. The desktop application would do exactly what the web-based service did, except the data would be stored locally. What you did from there would be your problem. You pays your moneys, you downloads your softwares. I can see a good case for either form, or even both.

If this is such a good idea, why don't I do it? Simply put, the risk is too great at this time in my life. I can't take 6 months off unpaid to work on something like this. Mortgage, kids, insurance... It's too much. However, I do know a few people (hint hint) who are ideally placed for this. I'll even try to come up with a good name for it.

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Blogger Rich said...

A half relevant thread was just posted on /..

August 4, 2008 at 11:56 AM  

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