Is that a weave, or your natural hair?

Mozilla just (on 12/23, while I was off celebrating Lille julaften) launched another project on Mozilla Labs. This one’s called Weave, and it represents Mozilla’s entry into the data portability discussion.

(I’m sure they meant weave as in the “weaving the web” reference – but I can’t but help think about hair weaves, and the artificial extension of the browser beyond its natural domain – a little irony in the name itself? Not that there’s anything wrong with wearing a weave, mind you.)

News Coverage:

And the original announcement itself: Introducing Weave (Mozilla Labs).

In that announcement, Mozilla Labs argues that:

Web browsers like Firefox can and should do more to broker rich experiences while increasing user control over their data and personal information.

The initial release, which requires a Firefox 3b2pre or later build, lets the user synchronize browser history and bookmarks with data storage in the cloud.

The more interesting pieces will come, however, as other kinds of data start to leverage the service. What if, for example, my social graph information – the list of people I’m connected to and in what fashion – traveled with me through weave to various browser installations, and could be provided by the browser to a social network application, with my permission?

I’m certainly happy to see that Mozilla’s started on the right foot, with the assumption of user control over their data, and that they are planning encryption as a core part of the service.

I guess the question is ultimately where the real hair stops and the weave begins – what is naturally a part of the browser (or what Mozilla Labs calls “browser metadata”) and what is part of the application. It feels a bit strange (browser-centric?) to think of my bookmarks as a bit of browser-metadata.

I’d prefer to say that the browser itself is a bit of metadata on the edge of my bookmarks – that the bookmarks are the key data, and the fact that I accessed them in Firefox is secondary at best.

If the concept is “store your bookmarks, history, and customizations to Firefox with Mozilla, and retrieve them anywhere you use our app” that seams perfectly reasonable but also non-revolutionary (even a bit passe).

If the concept is “store your personal identity and associated metadata in the cloud, and bring it with you to any site you choose to share it with” it sounds much more interesting and potentially revolutionary.

What if one of the things I “weave” into Mozilla’s cloud is my openID? Saved passwords? References to my social graph?

It’s only a 0.1 release, but well worth watching.

(Maybe another reason I’m thinking of identity in this context is the Sir Walter Scott quote which the name evokes:

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive!

Has someone at Mozilla Labs been reading Marmion? ).