Data and personal content exists in many different silos across the Internet, amd getting them all into a single interface and sharing them is no easy task. One potential solution to the problem is set to be demonstrated next week by open source software vendor Open-Xchange with an approach that uses semantic microformats as a mechanism for sharing and publishing data in a collaborative manner.
The new approach from Open-Xchange comes at a critical time in the
evolution of social networking, with issues around data ownership at Facebook and competing groups like Google’s OpenSocial all trying to create open access to data.
“I think the IT industry is a little bit behind in terms of
standardization, in term of integrating things,” Juergen Geck, Chief
Technology Officer, Open-Xchange told InternetNews.com. ” I’m a
mechanical engineer by profession and in the automotive industry things just
click into each other and that’s not the case in IT clearly and it’s a
Open-Xchange is an open source e-mail and collaboration system. Geck explained that
he started off working on the data sharing issue as a way to make
Open-Xchange more open.
“We’ve put together a prototype that is capable of publishing HTML with
microformats carrying all the necessary semantics, so you can have a simple
Web site that a user can look at it to share information,” Geck explained.
Microformats are defined small bits of HTML that help to categorize and tag information providing a semantic context. The Open-Xchange open data prototype will be able to publish data, be it calendar, address or other
content in a microformat so that it can be subscribed to by another user.
Going a step further, what Geck is doing with his prototype is also
scraping other content, from Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and elsewhere, so that users can also tag, and consume all their data. The data can be consumed inside of Open-Xchange or published to a private URL where it can be accessed.
Geck argued that the microformat approach that he’s using is a very open
approach that doesn’t lock in users. He adds that in his view, the data
belongs to the users and not to the social media sites themselves. Facebook
argued in its terms of service that it owns user data.
“Once you start taking about APIs, you get very proprietary,” Geck
argued. “I like to think of our approach as semantic publish/subscribe. It’s
all about making data easily accessible and tearing down the barriers. ”
Geck will be demonstrating his open data approach next week, but isn’t certain
yet when it will be fully productized into an Open-Xchange release.
While the service isn’t what many would today consider to be a cloud
server, Geck argued the problem is its just a matter of definition.
“I think that cloud should be about the data layer and not
infrastructure,” Geck said.
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.