Posts Tagged 'Facebook'

Is MySpace data availability truly more open?

In the post MySpace Opens Up The Data Pipe With Full Launch Of Data Availability, Arrington praised MySpace on fully launching data availability

MySpace is taking a much more interesting approach than Google, which controls data sent to third party sites via an iframe. MySpace is actually streaming data to these sites, which allows for true integration between the services, not just a bolted-on social tool.

My initial reaction is awesome, now I (as a 3rd party service provider) can consume the open user data but reading further into the article

Since actual data is being streamed out of MySpace, they have a strict terms of use policy that forbids third party sites from storing or caching the data, other than the unique MySpace user id of the user. Each time a page is rendered the third party must re-request the data from MySpace via a set of APIs. That means any changes by the user to their MySpace profile data or friends list will be instantly applied across third parties who access the data.

So basically MySpace TOS forbids me to do anything more than what is currently allowed by Google Friend Connect. Granted that there is a technical difference between the two, Google Friend Connect uses an iframe and MySpace actually lets the data out, there is no inherent difference in the 3rd party service provider ability to consume the data. In fact I would argue that it is more work for the 3rd party service provider to provide a UI page to render the data rather than just sticking in an iframe and letting Google do the heavy lifting.

Saying that MySpace’s data availability solution solves the problem of constant syncing of data so that the users remain in control is like Facebook saying that they are blocking Google Friend Connect due to user privacy concerns. IMHO the real reason is to maintain control and quoting the user privacy concern is merely a convenient PR front for both companies. I am surprised that Arrington is buying into MySpace’s PR spiel especially since he called Facebook on their user privacy concern blocking Google Friend Connect.

Storm in a teapot

Kara Swisher wrote a post recently Twitter: Where Nobody Knows Your Name. While attending a wedding at Washington D.C., she did an informal technology survey with about 30 people all of whom were quite intelligent, armed with all kinds of the latest devices (many, many people had iPhones, for example) and not sluggish about technology.

There are her findings (not at all surprising to me), quoting from her article

The grand total who knew what Twitter was: 0
Same goes for FriendFeed: 0
Widget: 1 (but she thought it was one of the units used in a business class study).
Facebook: Everyone I asked knew about it and about half had an account, although different people used it differently.

So her conclusion,

In other words, confirming for me what I wrote last week about the intense obsession with the hottest new services like Twitter and FriendFeed, in the echo chamber of Silicon Valley, and how no one else cares yet.

Basically all the fuss about FriendFeed and Twitter in the tech world sounds very much like storm in a teapot, I couldn’t agree more. But the question then why is a service like Facebook so much more mainstream than FriendFeed or Twitter? Perhaps it’s a matter of time before Twitter and FriendFeed gets more adoption but IMO, the simple answer is that the value of Facebook, likewise MySpace or Youtube, is immediately obvious to non-techie users. If a service make non-techie users work to figure out how to use it, you have lost them, pure and simple. Also, I suspect that non-techie users have no idea what a feed is, much less feed aggregator or mashups.

This post is actually a lead up to my next post on a current ongoing DataPortability DIY project of the month on rel=me adoption, rel=me is a XFN (XHTML Friends Network) microformat standard, I will explain more in the next post.

Doing the right thing vs. doing the things that matter to users

So Ning just got a $500M valuation, see Techcrunch’s post Ning Worth Half A Billion Dollars and Marc Canter isn’t happy about it, so unhappy that he wrote 2 posts about it Ning earns $1.7 a year on paid subs and they’re worth HOW much?, Response to Jean Hughes Robert on his comment about Ning.

After digging into a bit, I learn that Marc also has a similar company to Ning, People Aggregator. You can get an overview of People Aggregator from a Techcrunch post almost 2 years old A look inside PeopleAggregator. Quoting from the post,

Here’s how it works. PeopleAggregator.net will be a fully functioning online social network in and of itself, but it will share information with other services through common identity standards for our profiles and through APIs (application programming interfaces) for our writing, multimedia and contacts.

Perhaps most important, PeopleAggregator will also provide new social networks with hosted software and later next month will offer downloads of the software for organizations who prefer to host it themselves. Licenses will be free for nonprofits and will cost commercial ventures a one-time sum after they successfully monetize the system.

What this means is that it will be easy to come and go from new social networks, instead of being locked in to one just because you’ve put the time and energy into using your account there. Instead of being at the mercy of one centralized database and service, if Canter’s vision succeeds then countless social networks will proliferate with unique styles and function but with interoperability.

It appears that Canter’s rant about Ning’s valuation might have something to do with People Aggregator not being as successful as Ning or Facebook. Quoting from this Valleywag post, Marc Canter tells Mark Zuckerberg how to run Facebook,

Oh, and Canter’s screed certainly wouldn’t have anything to do with Canter’s own also-ran social network, PeopleAggregator, which has attracted few users despite “doing the right thing.” The right thing, apparently, being “failing.” Sure. Canter can’t replicate the success of Facebook, and he can’t make the marketplace care about his values.

The reason why I am writing about this is that People Aggregator’s purpose is very relevant to the data portability effort. So relevant in fact it reads like the Data Portability manifesto. But yet why did it not catch on like Facebook or Ning? People Aggregator did all the right things WRT to making data portable whereas Facebook is primarily a walled-off social network and Ning, while being a white-label social network provider, isn’t nearly as open (even though they implemented OpenSocial) as People Aggregator.

My thoughts on why People Aggregator isn’t as successful is what I said in the title of this post “Doing the right thing vs. doing the things that matter to users”. In particular, Facebook and Ning did more of what matters to the users than People Aggregator. In the end, it’s the users that determine that success of a social network. For the most part, your average user, while inconvenienced by having to re-enter a lot of their profile and friends data on different social networks, aren’t deterred enough to not join those social sites. Bottom line, the benefits of the walled-off sites outweigh the pain of re-entering your profile and friends data which leads me to rethink one of my earlier posts on The many faces of Data Portability. I believe that ultimately, the data portability standards that matter are the ones that provide real and substantial values to the users rather than what is right from an ideology viewpoint.

Facebook and Microsoft to join OpenSocial

I heard from a reliable source (sorry, can’t reveal) today that Facebook and Microsoft will both be making announcements sometimes this week that they are joining the OpenSocial Foundation along with Google, Yahoo, and MySpace. Both companies plan to commit development resources along with some amount of cash infusion. This is huge given how both Microsoft and Facebook have been so walled off when it comes to their users data. I see this as a huge step towards general data portability effort.

Microsoft Live Contacts now exportable

Another data portability post today from Techcrunch, this time it’s Microsoft opening up their Windows Live contacts to the following sites: Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, Tagged, LinkedIn. Though this is a separate effort from their involvement with DataPortability.org and is done using Microsoft proprietary APIs, it is still a good step towards fully opening up their contacts data to other sites.