Data Liberation, MultiMarkdown, and OPML

Fletcher Penney has been hard at work on MultiMarkdown 3.0. Perhaps one of the most inspired new features is the ability to work with OPML files. (Don’t know what OPML is? Read this.) Fletcher let me in on the secret early and it is absolutely nerd-tastic.

The Revolution

We are on the verge of something remarkable with our data. Simple data portability is here and it is killing the stranglehold of any one software developer over our digital toolbelts. This option-rich environment is letting people build their own workflows. For a change, the machines are working for us. How did we get here? I see a few reasons:

The Mobile Explosion

With the iPhone, iPad, and App store, Apple has turned the world of mobile computing on its head. Every step of the way, competitors laughed, then feared, then copied. People are digging these new multiple devices and, as a result, there are a lot of operating systems to play in.

Multiple Operating Systems

The whole Mac vs. PC thing arises from one dimension, desktop computing. Those days are over. There are now more operating systems than ever and people are no longer working in just one. I currently use three daily (four if you count the Web). Once the Tablet-aganza gets in full swing there will be even more options. People need to move their data between these operating systems. The text, markdown, and OPML standards are the foot soldiers used by every app to make this happen.

Home-Brew Apps, Inc.

An App stores supporting these new platforms create historical opportunities for small developers . Size doesn’t matter if you have a good idea and execute on it. These little guys are competing where only multi-million dollar companies dared a few years ago. The result is a rich environment of options where ten people can have their favorite App in any category and they are all different.

Cloud Sync

We finally have a way to easily sync files between computers, operating systems, and platforms. There is a reason everyone gets misty eyed when we talk about Dropbox: we remember how hard it used to be to sync. Now that syncing is easy, the data needs to work everywhere.

Just the Beginning

Us nerds are just figuring this all out. Things are only going to get easier and this speaks well for our future computing experiences. No longer will we all need to bend our habits to the foibles of a few applications. Instead we are going to pick the apps that work the way we think and move our data between them without a second thought. I can’t wait.