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Faraday CEO One of the 30Under30's

Added on by Ash.


There are only a limited number of start-up founders in the world, even less who sets his or her mind to change the very fabric of the internet. Chris is one of them.

When Chris and I founded Faraday Media, it was of extreme importance that just being another startup was not enough. We had to do something meaningful. Something significant. Not happy with fame or glory, we wanted to grow as people - giving back to a medium which had fed us for long time. To take the internet to a new place, just like Google had done nearly a decade ago. Its been a long road for Faraday, and while it hasn't always been easy, Chris' drive and aspiration has bought us to new and extraordinary heights, time after time after time; often at great personal sacrifice. I could never ask for a better CEO, or friend.

It's no secret that Chris and I are the best of friends and it makes me very happy, to congratulate him on being selected as one of the 30Under30's for Anthill, the leading entrepreneurial magazine in Australia.

From the website:

At 26, Chris Saad is one of Australia's most impressive young web entrepreneurs. His theory and practice around web standards - specifically 'DataPortability' and 'Attention Management' - have gained significant traction and are set to have a profound impact on the evolution of media in the digital age. Saad has co-founded several web-related companies and organisations, most prominently Faraday Media in 2006, of which he is CEO. Faraday Media is developing Particls, a technology that learns user habit and taste and delivers relevant information to them via news crawler, SMS, email, flash visualisations, etc. He also co-founded the Media 2.0 Workgroup with 14 industry 'commentators, agitators and innovators'. There's no shortage of ideas or energy in this digitally-minded entrepreneur. One to watch in the years to come.

Make sure you click through to the Article, subscribe to the mag and read the other 29 profiles!

This is recognition to a man whom has dedicated and sacrificed so much for the greater good, a true philanthropist. Well done Chris, you are definitely deserving of this prestigious award and will no doubt be one of many in the years to come.

Flow on News Sites

Added on by Chris Saad.

NineMSN Program Manager Paul Keen has written about a new NineMSN site feature that has the potential to dramatically improve the news reading user experience on their site.

They call it the "What's Happening Now" module. Think Facebook News Feed for a news site. It logs and lists events such as new stories, first comments and other changes to the site in 'real time' in a reverse chronological order.

This is another example of how flow based presentation can improve visibility and usability when it comes to consuming large quantities of content/interactions.

Well done to Paul and the NineMSN team for this innovative approach.

Speaking at 'The Next Web Conference'

Added on by Chris Saad.

Good news - I will be in Amsterdam speaking at the Next Web Conference on the 3rd and 4th of April - are you coming?

Here's a bit of info about the conference from the website:

The Next Web Conference is THE European conference for industry thought-leaders, leading web-companies, innovative Startups, visionaries and real Web savvies. This third edition will be held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on April 3rd & 4th, 2008.

Individuals from Plaxo, Google and Facebook join Workgroup

Added on by Chris Saad.

We are proud to announce the inclusion of Joseph Smarr (Plaxo), Brad Fitzpatrick (Google) and Benjamin Ling (Facebook) to the DataPortability Workgroup.

Plaxo, Google and Facebook together represent the key players in the competing approaches to Social Networking platforms and Data Portability.

Their joint support of the DataPortability initiative presents a new opportunity for the next generation of software - particularly in the fields of social software, user rights and interoperability.

The DataPortability Workgroup is, among other things, actively working to create the 'DataPortability Reference Design' to document the best practices for integrating existing open standards and protocols for maximum interoperability.

This means users will be able to access their friends and media across all the applications, social networking sites and widgets that implement the design into their systems.

We look forward to their contribution to the conversation.

More about the DataPortability initiative:

Our Philosophy: As users, our identity, photos, videos and other forms of personal data should be discoverable by, and shared between our chosen tools or vendors. We need a DHCP for Identity. A distributed File System for data. The technologies already exist, we simply need a complete reference design to put the pieces together.

Our Mission: To put all existing technologies and initiatives in context to create a reference design for end-to-end Data Portability. And, to promote that design to the developer, vendor and end-user community.

Besides these new additions, the WorkGroup includes, among others, Chris Saad (Faraday Media), Stephen Kelly (Peepel), Ben Metcalfe (Consultant to Seesmic and Myspace), Chris Messina (Citizen Agency, Microformats), Daniela Barbosa (Dow Jones), Phil Morle, Ian Forrester (BBC), Kristopher Tate (Zooomr), Paul Keen (NineMSN), Brian Suda, Emily Chang (eHub), Danny Ayers (Talis), Robyn Tippins (Yahoo!), Robert Scoble (PodTech).

For more information:

Please visit the DataPortability site.

Read/Write Web Coverage

Techcrunch Coverage

Top 3 Privacy issues for DataPortability on Social Networks

Added on by Chris Saad.
I was asked some questions by Ouriel Ohayon to help with his upcoming presentation at Tel Aviv University. I thought I would share my answers here as well.

He asked me what I thought were the top 3 concerns for Privacy on Social Networks in a DataPortability enabled world

My answers...
  1. Perception: Privacy Concerns are somewhat over-exaggerated - just like with any new system/approach. If I email you, you get my email address. Why wouldn't the same thing happen if I 'friend' you on a social network. The question is not if Robert Scoble had a right to get the data and the data of his friends - the question is why Facebook won't let him.

    Update: I forgot to mention here that if email addresses and spam are the issue - then moving away from email addresses as a means for uniquely identifying users should help solve the issue. As Chris Messina says, we should be using OpenID instead of Email addresses for login and uniqueness checks.
  2. Control: "Privacy" is just a subset of a broader issue of "Control". Facebook and others can give lots of Privacy but ultimately give very little Control. A whole set of other Control features are needed including DataPortability support. Facebook and others like to pretend they are protecting users - but actually they are just protecting their business model. Open will always win though.

  3. Language: Privacy is a very poor, out-dated word. In a social world privacy is less of a concern than complexity and information overload. We need to move onto more practical words such as permissions and trust. Words that let users act.

Welcoming Robert Scoble to the DataPortability workgroup

Added on by Chris Saad.
As many of you know, Faraday Media has long been a champion of user rights. We believe the user has an absolute right to own and control their personal information.

As such we created and promoted APML as an open standard very early in our company history. We then started the DataPortability Workgroup. A group dedicated to championing the cause of other open standards by putting them each in context as part of an end-to-end solution stack.

Since then, we have been both gratified and spirited by the support from the worlds thought leaders on the subjects of open standards, social networking and web-based software.

I'd now like to welcome Robert Scoble to the list of supporters and workgroup members. Robert is also a fellow member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup and his tireless efforts to demonstrate how being open, transparent and social can scale to celebrity scales always influences the conversation and helps to shine a spotlight on worthy companies and causes.

Be sure to check out Robert's recent troubles with Facebook data access and my post to the DataPortability workgroup welcoming Robert and summing up the DataPortability position.

2008 - Data, Semantics, Attention

Added on by Chris Saad.
As 2007 rolls to a close, bloggers have started predicting the hot trends of 2008. Data, Semantics and Attention seems like a consistent theme.

Here are some highlights:

Richard McManus (here):
Semantic Apps will become popular in 2008, due to their ability to get better content results and make better data connections. Think search engines like Hakia and Powerset, wikipedia-like efforts like Twine and Freebase, and apps that use semantic technologies under the hood.
We look forward to being involved with the Engagd platform and APML.
The big Internet companies will surprise us all by embracing open standards, and attempting to compete with each other with features instead of data lock-in (OK, this could just be wishful thinking!).
We have already seen Mozilla move in this direction with Weave. Google with OpenSocial. Hopefully 2008 will see true openness with use of existing standards such as those listed at

Marshall Kirkpatrick says (here):
The value of recommendation engines will become all the more clear; the era of data will be celebrated.

People engaged in the new web will do some really awesome stuff that we'll all be in awe of.
He writes in a post about the future of RSS:

For anyone who reads feeds, though, prioritization and personalized recommendations are two things that hold a whole lot of promise.

In 2007 both Bloglines and Newsgator were among the companies who moved towards implementing a simple, open Attention Data standard called APML. A wide variety of other companies began experimenting with other methods of systematizing and automating prioritization and recommendation as well. Expect this to be even bigger in 2008.

Web 1.0 was about Pages, Web 2.0 is about People, Web 3.0 will be about data.

Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins dedicates a whole section to APML (here):
You're going to see bigger partnerships emerge, along that same token, between the APML movement, the OpenID movement, and the big dogs like Microsoft, Facebook and Google. Remember that whole privacy debacle called Beacon? At some point real soon Zuckerberg is going to realize that to keep that very vocal minority of people who like privacy quiet, he's going to need to give them better ownership of their profile and attention data - APML and OpenID will provide ways for this to happen.
Josh Catone writes:
OpenID will be adopted by more startups and larger web companies, but most people (mainstream users) still won't use it - that's a couple of years off.
Perhaps DataPortability will help drive the value proposition.

Alex Iskold writes (here):
Implicit applications, which monitor our habits and automatically infer our likes, will rise.
Looks like 2008 will be an exciting year!

Look forward to working with you all in the near year.

Ma.gnolia rolls out APML support

Added on by Chris Saad.
Ma.gnolia, the web's favorite pure social bookmarking site has launched their APML support today.

They have used Engagd as their APML provider. Engagd made it possible for Ma.gnolia to integrate APML support with a couple of simple API calls. The rest of the text analytics and APML generation is done by our servers.

This is a great day for the cause of DataPortability and the growing ecosystem of tools that respect user rights by allowing us all to export useful attention data from various silos. They join Cluztr, Newsgator and others who have already announced or integrated APML support.

It was a pleasure working with Larry and Todd the Ma.gnolia founders, and I'd also like to thank Chris Messina (fellow DataPortability workgroup member) for the introduction!

For those unfamiliar with APML, here is a blurb from the official APML site.
"APML allows users to share their own personal Attention Profile in much the same way that OPML allows the exchange of reading lists between News Readers. The idea is to compress all forms of Attention Data into a portable file format containing a description of ranked user interests. "
You can learn more about their implementation on their blog.

Calling all developers: Time to get the graph back!

Added on by Chris Saad.
The DataPortability Workgroup is sponsoring an initiative called 'GraphSync'. Here's a snippet from the site:

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it...

  1. Pick a silo of proprietary social graph data
  2. Write some open source code to extract the data
  3. Place that data into the open formats listed below.
  4. Link to the code repository on the DataPortability Wiki.
  5. Win the love and admiration of a grateful community
So the idea is to build something much like the LinkedIn/Facebook/Spock 'Import your contacts from Gmail' feature in an open-source way. Instead of importing from Gmail, the hope is to get data out of social networks, IM buddy lists and more and store it in open standards.

Jump onto the site, join the google group and get into it. Please don't forget to re-blog or tweet this to help spread the word.

More at

Microsoft puts a price on your Attention Data - $4999.80/year

Added on by Chris Saad.

USD$4999.80/year - that's how much Microsoft values your Attention Data.

As Dallas writes on his blog:

If you would like a free copy of Windows Vista, then simply go to

The catch? You have to allow Microsoft to watch your every move for 3 months, and there are also some other requirements (below). This of course isn't for everyone, some people wouldn't care less and some would definitely have to think ten times about it before going ahead.

I really don't know how I feel about this program, since my privacy is worth quite a bit. Will they be tracking websites I go to, software I use, content I post on websites? In a world where spyware software exists to calm the ever increasing paranoid attitude of the public, how would a program like this be treated by the masses? While I am fairly confident that my online security is safe with Microsoft (credit cards, etc) do I really want to put my digital life on the line for the small price of one software product? Kevin - Notebook Review

What do you get?

  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (32-bit and 64-bit DVD)
  • Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007
  • Microsoft Money Plus Premium
  • Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008
  • Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008


  • First off, you have to be an American resident and over the age of 18 years.
  • You must own the computer you will be using.
  • You are required to fill out a survey at the start, and then every 2 weeks.
  • The automated program is offered to Windows Vista and Windows XP customers only.
  • The survey feedback program applies to all versions of Windows.
  • Microsoft, comScore, and MarketTools employees are not eligible to participate.
Matthew Hall (aDB) from Twitter has worked out the exact value of this bundle of software for me (thanks Matthew!)
Well here's the numbers I get from Best Buy :

Total Bundle Value at Best Buy $1249.95 - for 3 months of your Attention Data.

Interesting hey?

Facebook launches ClosedSocial

Added on by Chris Saad.
So... instead of out-opening Google's OpenSocial (often referred to as OpenWidgets), Facebook has instead launched a campaign to further distribute their proprietary app platform into other networks. Is this ClosedSocial? Or maybe ClosedWidgets?

Come on guys. This is getting pretty silly.

Chris Messina, a fellow member of the DataPortability workgroup, has the right idea. Blogs are the ultimate social network.
  • There are plenty of tools, but the result is the same - they are tool agnostic
  • They have a friends list (blogroll and registered members)
  • They host and drive conversation (comments)
  • They have all manner of 'apps' built for the sidebar
  • They use the web as their platform
  • They are totally customizable
  • They are totally distributed
  • The activity is aggregated via Techmeme, Technorati and others
  • The list goes on...
Are blogs back? Let's hope so.

Facebook Stirring Up Anger For Disabling Accounts

Added on by Chris Saad.
According to Techcrunch:
"As if Facebook didn't have enough to worry about, now it may have a growing customer service problem on its hands. Facebook members whose accounts have been disabled - some with good reason, some not - are increasingly frustrated with the company's opaqueness when it comes to trying to figure out what they did wrong. They find that their accounts have been turned off and access to the site and
all their data is denied, sometimes without so much as a warning. Facebook's customer service reps, who can only be reached via e-mail and are understandably overstretched, are apparently not very responsive."

Facebook is turning into a textbook case of why users must own their own identity and data.

2008 will be the year of the Portable Social Network, the DNS of Identity and the rise of the lifestream.

Stay tuned...

Today is the end of Facebook type walled gardens

Added on by Chris Saad.
Facebook Beacon is bad... we get it. Can we stop talking about what we are against and start talking about what we are for.

We are for owning our own identity. We are for having access to our data. We are for the right to control our own user experience. We are for the right to choose. We are for user rights and respect.

Facebook is just a tool. A tool to communicate. As with all tools it should be used to serve OUR purposes. Not theirs.

The tool should act on our data, not warehouse and trap it for it's own ends. The data should be shared between all my other tools in a way that is under my complete control. My friends are my friends, not theirs. My interests are my interests, not theirs.

Now they want my purchasing history as well? The recent revelation that Facebook is collecting purchase history information for users who are opted-OUT of beacon is yet another level of privacy violation.

Purchase history is an incredibly rich source of Attention Data. In fact it is the richest source of Attention data there is. If you are willing to part with your money for something then it is obviously of significant interest to you.

The problem, though, is not with Facebook - the problem is with us. The community and bloggers. We are focused on what we don't like about Facebook instead of what we do like about an alternative to Facebook.

Like the mainstream media we fail to provide context and alternatives to the stories being told. We need to talk about a new model of social networking. A model where we have undisputed access to our friends, data and rights.

Let's promote a new model. Let's demand it. And lets remember that we vote with our feet. The Beacon advertisers have already started voting with their dollars - they are 'opting-out' of Beacon.

Facebook increases user profiling - still no APML!

Added on by Chris Saad.
Facebook has added 'I like this' and 'I don't like this' buttons to each NewsFeed entry.

So Facebook are now they are collecting your explicit Attention Gestures to measure how much interest you, as a user, has in the ads and notifications coming through the stream.

This, of course, adds another dimension to their already comprehensive Attention Profile.

Still no APML or RSS though.

At a time when APML is being integrated into NewsGator and Ask products, tools are being created to convert Last.FM attention/listening data to APML, and Facebook's ad platform is receiving a lot of heat, one wonders if Facebook will continue to open their platform to give users control.

APML - The complete story so far....

Added on by Chris Saad.
Michael Pick has written the most comprehensive overview of the Attention Economy and APML so far. I encourage everyone to read it and pass it on to all your friends

Read it here: Attention Profiling: APML Beginner's Guide

Some highlights from the post:

We have reached the point of information hyper-saturation. It can become quite a chore to find relevant content online, when there is so much other information competing for your attention. But by implementing attention profiling, it becomes possible to have the services and websites you visit begin to make suggestions for content that you might be interested in.

APML is a proposed standard that gives you greater control over your own attention data, and in principle will allow you to selectively record your attention profile - the sites you visit, the search terms that interest you most, the content you most commonly link to - and share it with your favorite websites and services.


While APML stands up as its own standard, it is also possible to see it as part of a bigger picture.

As the web evolves we are seeing a great shift towards smart information filtering - the evolving notion of a "semantic web", but also, just as significantly, a move in the direction of expanding data portability.

Open standards make for an effective way of allowing data to freely flow from one web destination to another, rather than keeping different sets of data in closed silos and walled gardens. At the moment if I want to have a profile on MySpace and Facebook, for instance, I have to create them separately, and any information I enter on each remains locked into that particular destination.

Open standards and data portability are all about allowing me to take my information and use it across a number of services.

Well done Michael - it's an awesome piece of work.