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Monday, 14 September 2009

Google's Data Liberation Front

Storing your info in the cloud is great in that you don't have to carry it with you. You can log-in and access your data just about anywhere: calendars, photos, documents & presentations etc.

But it's apparently not always easy to swap data around and manage it. Especially if you want to change to another application or platform.

If you're like me. a lot of your data is on Google. This blog is powered by Google's Blogger and customised to be hosted on my website by A pro network I'm in stores data for Google-Groups as Google Docs. Many of my pix are in Picasa web albums. I used a temp Gmail account when my ISP screwed up.

How do you get all that somewhere else when you want to move to a different platform?

Well those guys at Google have been thinking about that too, and an engineering team have come up with the Data Liberation Front (DLF). The DLF reckon you can get data out of any of the Google products, but some give up that data more easily than others. To date they are about two thirds of the way through liberating data i.e. making it very easy to get data out. They've been on a liberating mission since 2007.

They point out that "Customers own the data they put into Google Apps, so we fundamentally believe it should be easy for companies to switch away from Google Apps to other messaging and collaboration solutions."

It may be counter intuitive, but I think it's a smart move.

By making it easy to get stuff out, we feel comfortable and don't want to leave.
Make it hard to get out and it niggles away at us. We feel trapped and some start to view it as a challenge.

And announcing it now is even smarter. As InformationWeek says: it's "a move that comes as the company is being assailed by competitors, interest groups, and the government for its online ad dominance and its digital book ambitions."

In PR and the news game: timing is all.

But I did find out something useful: although it's easy to escape from Blogger, the same easy escape route - an export from Blogger - is also a handy way to export a copy to your hard-drive as a back-up precaution. They may not be earth shattering, but you may find other similar insights at the DLF's site & blog:

I currently wouldn't want to escape from Blogger because I hear that Google's own blogs get indexed on Google faster. But if you do want to escape, the Data Liberation team "hosts the Google Blog Converters open source project. This project also powers a hosted conversion service with support for migrating from WordPress, MovableType, and Livejournal."

Another smart move: as you check the DLF out: they may well tempt you into other Google offerings - it's a fair-sized list down the left-hand side!

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posted by Penny Haywood Calder at


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