I Don’t Mind Being Friends with Brands, I Just Don’t Want to Have to be Friendly to My Friends Brand-Friends

Reading the press and opinion on Facebook’s new targeted advertising system. I think Facebook is overreaching, they’re asking too much. They’ve given us a container for widgets and a few of their own substandard built-ins (email, pictures, feed.) While free they accumulated the real value: a ton of users’ social graphs. Now that they have them, they want to charge (through untrammeled advertising) a huge amount for users to access their own data. The best analogy is probably the old CDDB bait-and-switch.

Seth talks about distinguishing open from closed. I’m not sure why he’s confused, we used to talk about this all the time, and he was open’s most eloquent dead-philosopher-namedropping proponent. I direct him to go back and read AttentionTrust’s principles. Open means the platform gives up trying to control how the user uses it, giving up trying to own the data about the user. Open is the opposite of the walled garden. A platform’s implementation can be proprietary, but that doesn’t mean it’s closed. Open is better for the user, it means giving the user control over what they do and can do. Open is better for the platform as well, it means allowing the user (and others) to innovate and then being able to spread that innovation to other users.

We’ve been given small taste of openness. Now I can’t do without it. So I want to know: where’s the OpenSocial portable social graph widget? Can we move that to the top of the priority list?

Here’s what I want: a PSG widget that I can import into my NetVibes page that will let other authorized widgets see my social graph (or a specific subset of it) and can communicate with my friends’ PSG widgets (embedded in any OpenSocial platform), so they can exchange feed-items. I don’t want to be beholden to a single widget container, I don’t want anyone to be able to hold my data hostage.

One Comment

  1. jerry,

    i feel your pain

    i guess i have become cynical about the practicality of openness as a business out here in tech-ville.

    opensocial is great in theory but i still dont see how a tight social graph can persist through the javascript federation.

    facebook has all of this built in pre-populated social directories that seem really hard to replicate anywhere else (driven by the fact that users are lazy)

    yes, the data should be free and portable and available to all services to access. but the fact remains that the social context for making this data meaningful has to be assembled in a structured, secure way and facebook is the only one that has done this to date.

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