Data/data portability/Zitt5rain: A move to tethered appliances and Web services means that more and more of our experiences in the information space will be contingent. A service or product we use at one moment could act completely differently the next, since it can be so quickly reprogrammed without our assent. (…)Older models of software production are less problematic. Because traditional software has clearly demarcated updates, users can stick with an older version if they do not like the tradeoffs of a newer one. These applications usually feature file formats that are readable by other applications, so that data from one program can be used in another.
There has been ongoing debate about just how much of a problem lock-in can be with a technology. (1) The tradeoff of, say, a long-term mobile phone contract in exchange for a heavy discount on a new handset is one that the consumer at least knows up front. Much less understood are the limits on extracting the information consumers deposit into a non-generative platform. Competition can be stymied when people find themselves compelled to retain one platform only because their data is trapped there.
1. ( VsZittrain) : For opposing sides of this debate, compare Paul A. David, Clio and the Economics of QWERTY, 75 AM. ECON. REV. 332 (1985), with Stan J. Liebowitz & Stephen E. Margolis, Should Technology Choice Be a Concern of Antitrust Policy?, 9 HARV. J. L. & TECH. 283 (1996) (arguing that it is difficult for “inappropriate” technology to become established as a standard and that antitrust policy should not be used to improve on even imperfect results). See also Seth Schoen, Trusted Computing: Promise and Risk, http://www.eff.org/Infrastructure/trusted_computing/20031001_tc.php (last visited May 15, 2007).
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The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It New Haven 2009