Data Liberation

The news from earlier in the week that Google is committing to providing users easy and free ways to move their data in and out of Google products addresses one of the concerns I have had about cloud computing. I understand the appeal in terms of expense, and I have had good experiences when I have used Google Docs for collaboration. But often the content being created is stuff that I may want around many years in the future, or also available off-line on a flash drive (we can pretend the entire world is networked, but in just the past two months I can think of three different trips that left me in locations with no convenient network connectivity).
We are even running into this with the course management systems we are looking at – not all of them offer the same degree of data portability. It seems that part of the issue there is a lack of clear “neutral” format to export all courses too, which certainly makes sense given the diversity of the tools available. But there are also systems where you can access old courses in perpetuity on their servers but cannot export the course to your own computer – where in perpetuity I fear means only for the lifetime of your school’s contract with the provider. This type of lock-in makes me very nervous.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *