In a recent article I wrote for the Headlight blog, I wrote about data portability, but I was largely describing a world we're not quite living in yet.
What will happen first among a lot of services is that we will have lots of innovation, and many solutions to the same problem. The strong solutions, and the solutions created by smart people, will coalesce into standards that arer adopted for the future.
We are at the point where the IETF isn't the standars body people are looking to now- instead of data communications standards, the battleground is at the application level. Creating web applications with good interfaces is now a totally democratized effort. his will mean chaos, probably for a while. Competing standards. Facebook vs. Google. Social graphs vs. brute force indexing. But eventually there will be shakeout. It sure took a long time for the HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray wars to be over, buit that's what we are in for. the only thing that is encouraging aboutt his on a web servicrews level is that from a cash perspective it is easier for a user to make a choice among competing web services (typically because they are free).
But the subsequent shakeout shows us that even if the service is free, user attention and effort which goes into the serivce has value. Users in a community create value for each other; they are paying for this servie one way or another. It is at this point, ewith userr value locked up somehwre, that the questiuon of portable data becomes important. What now?