Monday, June 18, 2007

A facebook catch

Sam Sethi twittered that Facebook have prevented FSBSoftware from releasing a Facebook sychronization application. Last week i blogged on why facebook needs OpenID.

Of course, this is based on the argument that facebook wants to be open - if not why on earth would they adopt it. This is probably the biggest issue with OpenID at the moment - that most of these sites want to create data silos and you don't control any of your information.

It is in a sense maddening, but in another entirely logical. It's the same with Google maps - and it's a catch 22. If you invest in creating the technology platform then why allow others to use it for free - especially for commercial reasons?!

The problem is that theese companies put "open" API's on their products and then promote the hell out of them in meetings, conferences and online. So loads of "free" neat applications get written for them without any REAL consideration of what the undercurrent is - that there is ALWAYS a commercial reason. More people will use these apps, more (duplicated) data will flow to these central systems and ultimately they will have a hold over any commercial companies wanting to write anything that can even attempt to compete with them.

Imagine anyone writing anything reasonable to compete with Google Maps (with the exception of course of Microsoft). My worry is that in 5 years all the data - and any useful applications (oh, once something gets moderately popular it needs to get commercial to survive) - will be in very few places if this trend continues.

Now, of course your data needs to sit somewhere, but with user centric open systems and your data sitting in the places that need it at your request, sites could still do cool things with yout data (such as Facebook) but they wouldn't actually control your data. Is there a good reason why I can't relate my Facebook account and Linked In account directly? I'd still love them both for what they do, but wouldn't feel trapped in them.

I'd like to see a simple start. Allow relating accounts via your OpenID.

Moving forward, the idea of unlimited social networking just needs a big player with some cash to implement something revolutionary. The reason I like Linked In isn't because it contains a load of data that is closed - it's features are neat and i can contact people i want to know easily.

Let's move the battle from "we got the data" to "we got the features".

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