Beyond the Export Model


Kifi’s whole schtick is integration with Slack. That won’t work anymore, but you can export! Yay you.

Some people think that notices like this are proof we should all be running our own instances of Kifi, blogging software, or whatnot.

I’m lazy, and I don’t want to do that. I just want my data somewhere that I own, in a format any application can read. I don’t want to have to export it, I want it to be mine already.

If Microsoft Word suddenly went belly up (not Word Online, but desktop Word) Microsoft wouldn’t have to send me an email like this, because my documents would all still be on my hard drive. I could wake up from a Rip Van Winkle sleep, having missed every end of life warning, and I’d still have my documents.

And if those documents were stored in a standard format, like HTML, I wouldn’t need Word to read or edit them. I’d just get a new editor and sail right on.

That’s what being a storage-neutral application and using a standards-based format gives you. It’s why I can still view my family website pages from 1997 but my Ning and Friendster posts are gone.

Ahhh.. you say, but if you had run your own version of Friendster. An open source version of Friendster!

But who the hell wants to maintain an OpenFriendster Server for a decade in order to look at old documents? (And what does it even mean to run a one person community software instance?) I just want a hard drive, somewhere on the internet, with standards-based documents on it. If your web software has a better way to make sense of some of those documents than what I’m currently using we’ll give it a go. And if you flake out, someone else is welcome to come along and fill in the gap.

I want to be able to forget about my documents for years, and then find a reader when I need it.

I don’t want to be a sysadmin. I want to be a writer with a library.

This is what we had for a long time before we decided to put our text into databases designed for accounting. It’s what we should strive for again.

Along these lines you should also read Ted Bergeron, who I think has the right idea about formats. Combine this with something like Tim Berners-Lee’s SOLID project and we might actually spend time being productive again instead of transferring files between functionally equivalent products.



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