My 11/28/10 Missoulian column
A few weeks ago, I was going to cover the changing circumstances of data export from popular Web services that once “locked” your data in, such as Web-based e-mail and social networking services.
That was a good follow-up after I covered Google and Facebook acting like a couple of 12-year-old billionaires over allowing each other’s customers to access their own data.
That ended with Google cutting off Facebook’s easy import of user contacts, in the name of what they called “data reciprocity”: If the data street doesn’t go both ways, they said, forget it.
But the next week, Facebook figured out a way around Google’s block, using a method that Google couldn’t block.
Which was interesting, as Google has been as bad as any with its past policies of locking its customer’s data into its services, even though its corporate mantra has always been “Don’t be Evil.”
That’s until a few years ago, when they started an initiative called the “Data Liberation Front.” The DLF logo shows a raised fist holding a few ones and zeros, representing data.
Google’s DLF provides ways for users to get their data out of the myriad Google services, such as Gmail, Google Docs and others.
The DLF came about from users’ complaints that their e-mail, contacts and other information were stored in Google Web-based services with no way to take their data home to their own PC, or – probably more popular a move – to another competing Web service. See Data Liberation Front: http://www.dataliberation.org
It was once more difficult to move your data between all the different and highly popular Web services or even extract it at all. But many companies such as Google came to the conclusion that if customers knew it was easy to leave, they would feel better about staying.
Still, it isn’t as easy as it could be. For Gmail, you simply can’t export all your Gmail in one file for your home PC. You have to use another e-mail program to access it and download it all.
If you want to get your e-mail out of Yahoo or MSN or another service, it should be easier these days. Almost all services offer some sort of export and e-mail forwarding.
If there isn’t a method provided by the Web service itself, Google “export from” and the name of the mail service. Chances are good you’ll find that someone has worked out a way to get around the Web service that wants you to stay.
This week in Mac Q & A: Zipping File Attachments