Thinking through a little more about the general problem related to my last post of of how to encourage companies to avoid trying to lock in their customers, it occurs to me
that one solution is to start an initiative loosely modeled on something like
EnergyStar where companies that comply with some set of Open Data
guidelines can then use the initiative's copyrighted
logo for marketing purposes or what have you as a way to attract users that have concerns about being
locked in to a vendor's platform. Rather than have a heavyweight regulatory system where companies apply for licensing and the application is reviewed, there could just be a lightweight community-based framework (think Wikipedia) where people that use the logo but fail to meet the simple guidelines would be informed that their license has been revoked. If just a few highly visible people started promoting the idea, it's possible that that could create enough awareness about the issue that some vendors might have enough incentive to start using it. There are already a lot of vendors which do a good job of not locking
in their customers so this could be a free lunch for them. If that happened, then we'd have a wonderful virtuous circle where non-compliant vendors would feel the pressure from compliant vendors in the same space to become compliant, uninformed users would become aware of the problem based on the visibility of the logo and information describing the initiative, and the rest is history. Of course this all assumes a handful of people are willing to work on setting up an organization to back the idea and carefully define a minimal set of Open Data principles and compliancy requirements. Easier said than done.