Three Questions, Updated

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 | 11:28 AM


When we started the Data Liberation Front in 2007, we encouraged everyone to ask three questions about the products they were using:

  1. Can I get my data out at all?
  2. How much is it going to cost to get my data out?
  3. How much of my time is it going to take to get my data out?
But we forgot an important detail: the ability to do something useful with the data once you take it out. With that in mind, we’ve modified our first question to emphasize the importance of being able to download your data in an open, interoperable, portable format:
  1. Can I get my data out in an open, interoperable, portable format?
  2. How much is it going to cost to get my data out?
  3. How much of my time is it going to take to get my data out?
What we mean by open, interoperable and portable is that your data should be exported in a format that is:
  • Publicly documented and non-proprietary (i.e. it does not require a commercial license to use)
  • Easy for engineers to write a program that can import the data into another system
Your data isn’t really liberated unless you can put it to use somewhere else. Making sure you can do that when you liberate from Google products is now officially part of our mission.


Sverre Rabbelier said...

Perhaps this should also include "can I do all those things when my account is suspended due to Terms of Service violations"? :)

Unknown said...

We're working on that. :)

Richard Fairhurst said...

Really good principles.

Could you confirm that no licence is needed to extract data that's been created using Google My Maps (by tracing over aerial imagery)?

Bing and Yahoo have both "liberated" their aerial imagery this way, but no formal word from Google as yet.

Unknown said...

Richard: I'm not sure about derived data--the maps people should know. I'll try to check with them.

Sverre Rabbelier said...

@Fitz: awesome to hear that! Keep up the great work :).

Nick said...

Completely agree with Sverre. The #1 issue in the public eye for Google accessibility right now has to be the locking out and non-responsive appeals process for ToS violations that won't be explained to you. Directly due to this I've been taking steps toward automating processes to extract my data from Google. All that would go away in an instant if suspended accounts could simply export their mail/calendar/docs/photos.

Anonymous said...

LOL @ Richard Fairhurst. You know very well google have no intention of being liberal with that data. They're launching Google Map Maker in the U.S. competing with not-for-profit OpenStreetMap to reinforce their commercial dominion over the world's geodata.

JohnDough1999 said...

Google+ data export doesn't work if your account is suspended!

oi gevald said...

How about starting with Google Docs 'Documents'? I am trying to convert some of my documents to Markdown format, and the experience is frustrating to say the least.

For example, when downloading a document as HTML both ordered and unordered lists are HTML-tagged as ordered lists. The different display is defined in the CSS style. Why do that when HTML can perfectly discern between the two types of lists?

Same goes for sub-lists. As far as docs is concerned a sub list is a top-level list with a different style...

Both problems, and more, occur when trying to download as Word documents and as ODT. Please fix that so that 'Liberation' would at least mean 'not abusing the download format'.

David said...

There's also the question of what does "my data" consist of--for
example, in Google Reader, I think my data is a lot more than just the
list of feeds I'm subscribed to. There's a lot of information in how
I've organized the feeds, starred things, shared things, comments,

As far as I know, none of that extra information can be exported?

John Simon said...

when can I liberate my chat logs?

Twan van Elk said...

Second on the Google Talk logs. When will we be able to export them?

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