Microsoft, context, and open data

Jason Matusow blogs that I'm a proponent of closed data. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Jason Matusow (Microsoft's interoperability guru) has a swipe at me in his blog today. He emailed me to tell me he had done it. I appreciate the courtesy, and I also appreciate the post. Jason has a way of dismantling someone's arguments in a very polite, but complete way.

Unfortunately, in this case, he didn't dismantle my argument. He supported it.

I am a 100% supporter of open source and open data. Jason takes one comment of mine out of context (out of context of 99.999% of what I've written, though I don't think he did it maliciously - I think he just didn't have time to read other posts or simply didn't remember them) and runs with it. But I like where he goes with it:

I have been talking with executives, government officials, academics, etc. all over the world for the past 2 years about data. If there is one thing that people REALLY do not want locked up by vendors it is their data. Online, enterprise apps, consumer devices...nope - don't lock up my data. In fact, this concept has catapulted the rather arcane world of data formats to the top of the industry news heap lately.

If I had to choose between buying a service online from a single vendor who believes their value is in their software, but get to control my data vs. using an open technology where my data is locked up unless I pay for it...I think I want my data thanks.

Me, too. Except I'd actually say you need both. If I'm a customer of (I'm not, but follow me on this) and I decide to leave, it will let me take my data, but what good will it do me? I don't have the software.

Contrast this with SugarCRM (I am a customer). I get the software and the data. So, if I decide to leave, I have complete control of my data. That, to me, is freedom. It's what I want from my vendors. It's what I give to my customers.

So, Jason, on this we mostly agree, not disagree. The only place where we disagree is on whether the underlying software should also be free (along with the data). I say "Yes." Microsoft says "Sometimes, but not usually."

One place that Microsoft feels strongly about data is Sharepoint, the future of lock-in. Sharepoint is neither open source nor open data, and it's pernicious on both counts. It is the Trojan Horse for Microsoft's next decade of growth...and control. Jason may disagree, but I don't think he can disagree with whether it leaves data open or closed.

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