This is the fourth in a series of blog posts about the Principles of Personal. See also:

When Phil Sole of New Zealand managed to guess all five Principles of Personal after only our second blog post, he said the following in his explanation of how he did it:

And for Portability, when I saw someone else guess it I thought it was a lock-in just because it’s such an important point.

Phil is spot on: the principle of data portability is bound into the very DNA of a personal network. The DataPortability Project (of which Connect.Me’s Drummond Reed is a founding board member) defines it this way:

Data portability enables a borderless experience, where people can move easily between network services, reusing data they provide while controlling their privacy and respecting the privacy of others.

For the User
With data portability, you can bring your identity, friends, conversations, files and histories with you, without having to manually add them to each new service. Each of the services you use can draw on this information relevant to the context. As your experiences accumulate and you add or change data, this information will update on other sites and services if you permit it, without having to revisit others to re-enter it.

For the Service Provider
With cross-system data access, interoperability, and portability, people can bring their identities, friends, conversations, files, and histories with them to your service, cutting down on the need for form-filling which can drive people away. With minimal effort on the part of new customers, you can tailor services to suit them. When your customers browse networked services and accumulate experiences, this information can update on your service, if people permit it. Your relationship remains up-to-date and you can adapt your services in response, even when they don’t visit. With mutual control and mutual benefit, your relationships remain relevant, encouraging continued usage.

Given that the starting premise of a personal network is that every member controls their own personal data via their own personal data locker, data portability is essentially wired into it. In other words, the data interchange protocols that connect lockers to each other, and to the sites and vendors with whom an individual wants a relationship, are the technical means by which that individual’s data can be portable. (Right down to the API level — see this Data Portability blog post about what that really means.) And trust frameworks will provide the legal and economic means.

As this capabilities are implmented, by Connect.Me, the Locker Project, and many other participants in the Personal Data Ecosystem, data portability will become a very significant factor in the rise of personal networks alongside social networks as online relationship management tools. Social networks have proved their value for social relationships where the sharing is largely public; personal networks will fill the need for personal sharing relationships where the privacy and portability of personal data are paramount.

Look for our final blog post on the Principles of Personal next Monday, April 25.