Friday, September 09, 2005

New DataWeb Service

This is not exactly an XDI post but it touches on XDI and is all about identity and data sharing so I don’t feel too bad. One of the reasons I have been so quiet over the last couple of months is because I have been building business plans and strategies rather than thinking about core XDI architecture. The result of all this planning is DataTao.

DataTao (a working name) is going to be an interoperable data hub for user controlled data. DataTao is primarily about programmatic access to an individual’s data and only has as much UI as is needed to richly support its base functionality. I often use an analogy of Windows Explorer or Mac Finder; Apps that run on your computer depend on an underlying persistence layer (the file system) to work. The new generation of ICA (Identity Centric Architecture) based web apps will be dependant on the DataWeb for their underlying data persistence. DataTao will be the first DataWeb Explorer.

So why do I call it an ‘interoperable’ data hub? That’s because DataTao is designed to act as a bridge between many of the current identity protocols. While DataTao will provide storage for people that don’t have their data stored and available from elsewhere, its main purpose is to consume and forward data from its authoritative source(s). DataTao publishes your information, based on your permission settings, to all of the supported protocols. If you have a dataTao account you will be able to go to an XDI enabled site and have it establish a link contract for transparent data sharing. You will be able to go to a SXIP Network enabled Membersite and dataTao will act as your Homesite. You can visit a LID or OpenID enabled site and DataTao will provide the relevant interfaces for authentication.

If you have a LID, a SXIP Homesite, a public LDAP server or an XDI data service and you get a DataTao account you will be able to get the advantages of having all of them while still maintaining your data only at the one place that you already did. If you already have multiple places that your identity is published you can use DataTao to consolidate your identity into one virtual profile and manage who sees what from a single point.

It is my opinion that DataTao is a necessary and required next step in the evolution of the DataWeb. While DataTao by itself is NOT a compelling application it is a needed piece of infrastructure. It will hopefully encourage and enable people to build internet 2.0 applications and maximize the leverage of those already built. SXIP membersites will suddenly have a market not just of people with SXIP homesites but anyone with a LID or an i-name or an open LDAP service.

In order to drive adoption DataTao will provide some Apps that use the DataWeb for persistence in conjunction with the DataTao launch. These apps have not been finalized yet but will likely include Exchange and Mac Mail integration (Self updating address books) as well as a rich interface for person to person profile information sharing (i-share).

Despite the fact that the true value of DataTao is in the infrastructure piece that it puts in place, it is likely that all of the marketing that you see will be about the apps or the widgets that we deploy. But you, the tech savvy reader will know what it’s really about.

DataTao will be a free service that will have its public launch early in 2006.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I noted your absense from the "identity scene" over the last couple of months but having just read your post you've clearly been a very busy fellow.

Your impending implementation of a cross protocol and persistent data layer sounds extremely compelling.

I'm very eager to see and test the services you've built when you release them early next year.

If the opportunity presents itself I'd also be very interested to know more about how you envision the end-user "interfacing" with these services. I've spent quite a bit of time over the last few months analyzing Kim's 6th and 7th Laws to try and understand what they might imply from an IP law perspective.

One thing that seems prety clear, even disregarding Kim's laws is that for end-users to use and trust identity centric data schemes a fairly high level of UI consistency will be necessary across a potentially wide variety of operating systems and computing devices.

I suspect that some to type of independent organization should be setup to "host" (own the IP rights) of a set of standard UI elements which are provided to implementers royalty-free but based on some minimal implementation compliance requirements. My thinking is primarily motivated by concerns the end-users just aren't goint to adopt the tools despite their powerful features unless they are presented with a high degree of consistency (I rely both on gut and Kim's Laws to support that view).

Perhaps these issues are too far outside the scope of your work? If not I'd appreciate the opportunity to discuss via phone/skype sometime to find out if you've given any of this some thought and to learn if you think there's merit to this line of thinking.

Anyway, hats off to you for all the progress you're making!