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Sites that trust their users

Monday, May 19, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named tramp.jpgI've been writing about locking users in by holding their data for a long time from a number of different angles.  Permalink to this paragraph

1. Sites that have my data, but won't let me use as I'd like to. Example -- movie ratings data locked up by Netflix and Yahoo. Why, when I rate a movie at Netflix can't I let Yahoo have that data and vice versa. And if you'd like to link movie ratings to a dating profile on match.com or Jdate, why not let users arrange that? Permalink to this paragraph

2. I've always believed that blogging and RSS tools should export their data so users can switch tools and the products at UserLand all did this. As a result, there's a tradition among RSS readers that they import and export OPML subscription lists. It happened because Radio UserLand, the early market leader, did.  Permalink to this paragraph

3. Interestingly, this is another example of "People return to sites that send them away," a long-held belief here on Scripting News. For background see this postPermalink to this paragraph

Now, what more can we do? Permalink to this paragraph

In an email exchange on this subject, Fred Wilson said: "I still use last.fm because I use at least a half dozen services actively that suck in my last.fm feed," he said. Permalink to this paragraph

Vendors, pay attention --> Fred Wilson may be a bleeding edge user, but he is a user, and if he figured it out, others are sure to follow. Permalink to this paragraph

Which led me to this new idea... Permalink to this paragraph

Let's reward companies who trust us with our data by giving them awards, a seal of approval they can boast about, a way of identifying those services that will survive the purge that's certainly coming.  Permalink to this paragraph

Eventually we will abandon our data and start anew, this time with the requirement that we can take our data with us. Permalink to this paragraph

Lock people in with price, performance and features, not a deadbolt. Permalink to this paragraph

Lock users in with love, not force. Permalink to this paragraph

Sting sang it: If you love someone set them free. A paradox only if you think you can force someone to love you. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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