"Data portability" is almost useless

At least when what is needed is communication.

"Data portability" is almost useless /img/zuckerberg-laughing.jpg
Boy, I cannot believe how they insist looking in the WRONG direction...


One big reason why “Big Tech”, especially the so-called “GAFAM”, that is Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, continue to have too much power over society is that there still is too much dead end action at the software or data portability levels, and too little at the legal/interoperability levels.

This is easy to understand, if one just looks in the right direction, at the right level: You can build the best, simplest, most user-friendly “messaging system”, but unless it is transparently interoperable with Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram etc, that is until it does not allow you to “call” people who only are on those “services”… it will remain as useless, and unused, as a smartphone that can only call phones of exactly the same brand and model.

The first, real topic of that activists and lawmakers should discuss first is “free as in freedom” communication tools and protocols. Not software, or “platforms”, or “breaking up” the same platforms.

When it comes to communication, “data portability” is useless, and software licenses are almost irrelevant, if there is no interoperability.

This is not science-fiction. It is something we had, but lost by ignorance. Ten years ago, for example, everybody could use Facebook without connectig to Facebook. Everybody, that is, could receive notifications by Facebook via standard RSS, and read or post on their Facebook walls from the command line because Facebook had APIs (“Application Programming Interfaces”) for that. Those RSS and APIs was all was needed to build REAL competitors to Facebook.

So Facebook swiftly canceled both. And won, as the fact that they passed from 1 to almost 3 billions of users since then shows. Everybody was gaslighted into demanding antitrust measures, that are almost useless in this space, or jumped to proudly build tools that only geeks would use, and even if simple would be useless, because you couldn’t talk with them to people who were still on Facebook.

Take home lesson: developing more communication software is a dead end whatever license it has, unless the GAFAMs of the world are not legally forced to let their users FULLY interoperate with it first.