open – Stay N Alive

Are Toll Roads Open?

Twitter proved me wrong. Well, sorta.

After my last article I had a whole slurry of rebuttals by Twitter employees suggesting my last article had “serious factual errors” and that the move by Twitter to charge $360,000 a year for 50% access to their full firehose through Gnip actually made Twitter “more accessible” and “open”, and not more closed as I was claiming.  Before I start I want to make sure it’s clear to those Twitter employees – what’s business is business – I have made no personal attacks here guys.  Please take this constructively.  I’m only stating my viewpoint as one of your developers, and, I think if you look at the replies to my post and retweets (and the comments of that post), you’ll see many other devs that agree with me.

I’ll give Twitter that credit, and I applaud them for it.  Compared to yesterday, even with a Paywall, Twitter’s firehose is “more accessible”.  In addition, Twitter is one of the only content sites out there that even provides an API to their full firehose of data, and, for that, they should be applauded.  It doesn’t matter if 2 years ago all this data was available for free via an XMPP feed and that really isn’t correct – Twitter is still one of the only sites at least giving an option to scan their massive database.  I think that’s a powerful thing and I’m definitely not discouraging that.  I want to make sure we’re absolutely clear on that – what Twitter did today was a good thing.

However, let me explain what I was getting at in my previous article.  Even though Twitter is one of the only sites allowing this data, there is a dangerous precedent they’re setting towards “open data”.  In essence, they’re saying, “You can have access to an individual’s Tweet stream. (with limits)  You can have access to the Tweet stream of your site’s users (with limits).  But to access all our data, you have to pay us.”  Now, let’s go back to my “Pulse of the Planet” reference and compare it to a highway system.  If Twitter was a Highway, anyone could have access and go where they want, as they please, all for free.  All destinations are possible as a result.  However, by closing their firehose to only those that pay, they are offering only one road, to one destination.  The problem is that anyone else can still get to that destination for free via other Highway systems – it’s just more difficult to do so.  By creating a “Toll Road”, Twitter is, in essence, creating a single way that guarantees direct access to the full data that Twitter provides. Everyone else is stuck finding their own way, and what happens is a result is they plan new destinations that are cheaper to get to.  Which route is more open?  The Toll Road, or the free Highway system?  This is actually a big debate in many cities – it’s not an easy question to answer, so you may decide for yourself what that means and maybe I was wrong in calling it closed earlier.  However, I will argue that the “open” web is a Highway.  Twitter, at the moment, along with Facebook, Google’s Search Index, Google Buzz, MySpace, and many others’ data are toll roads.  Which is more open?  I’m not even saying it’s wrong to be a toll road.  Maybe you guys can debate in the comments.

What I’m getting at is now that Twitter is charging for the full firehose, your data has a specific value to them.  Their bottom line now relies on them charging for access to half of their users’ data.  My concern is that now that Twitter is profiting off the full firehose, what happens when they realize this is making them money and they start charging for other pieces of their data?  Money is tempting, and my concern is that this is a path that is leading them towards more paywalls and more areas that just aren’t open to the general public or normal developers.  Call that “open” or not, as a developer, I’m very worried about that.  I’d almost rather Twitter keep their firehose closed than charge exorbitant fees for it.  Or, just charge for the whole thing already and put us all out of our misery.  On a site where it’s very unclear how they’re making or going to make money, this is a very scary thought to a developer that has been relying on a free API.

I’d like some comfort in this matter.  Can Twitter guarantee they won’t charge for any more of their data?  Or is this the path they are moving towards?  What’s the roadmap so we, as developers, can prepare for it?

I hope Twitter employees that disagree can do so in the comments this time – it’s much easier to have a sane conversation when your limit isn’t 140 characters.  Let’s keep this conversation going.  I hope there is some clarification on the matter.

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The Next "Facebook Platform" for the Modern Web, and Why Twitter’s Running the Wrong Way

I’ve talked previously about “the web with no login button”, a vision of the Building Block Web that follows the user where they go, knowing who they are and adapting as they move.  With the advent of mobile, entire operating systems running on the browser, cloud-based personal information stores and APIs such as Kynetx to manage both user and application data for the user, we are so close to being where we want to be!  There’s one hurdle we have to jump before we get there though, and I’m concerned Twitter just ran the wrong direction with their new UI.  The hurdle we’ve got to get around is that of allowing a user’s social connections to also follow them wherever they go, uninhibited by any single corporation.  Not a single big player seems willing to take this step yet, but when it happens, I guarantee you’ll see a revolution at the scale of when Facebook Platform launched in 2007.  The first person to do it gets the opportunity to lead the pack, and hundreds of millions will follow.

I mentioned earlier on Twitter that something about Twitter’s new UI (which I’ve actually only seen screenshots and demos of since I’m not on their Press list) really bugged me but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Perhaps it was hearing Ev emphasize “yet” when talking about CoTweet-like functionality. Perhaps it was hearing Jason Goldman talk about improving their “following” interface to something that I think could potentially threaten some of what I’m doing with my business.  Perhaps it’s the feature they just asked me to kill on SocialToo that I haven’t announced yet.  Perhaps it’s their lack of a solid roadmap like Facebook has to warn developers of what’s ahead and who will be replaced next.  As a developer, every step like this Twitter makes is certainly a threat to my business model and anyone else like me.  It’s definitely a token to their closed nature.  However I think it’s much bigger than that.

I think Alex Payne, of whom I just became a big fan after his recent post on his perceptions of the new UI (a must read), said it perfectly, “all communications media will inevitably be decentralized, and that all businesses who build walled gardens will eventually see them torn down.”  Now, I don’t think all walled gardens will die – Ev William’s own original startup,, remained closed in a time where sites like LiveJournal and WordPress were going completely open source and it was still bought by Google.  In those days, going open source and giving people the opportunity to own their own data stored on each blog was the equivalent of federating social connections would be today – instead of owning content people would now have the opportunity to own their own relationships and port those from site to site if they choose, or host the relationships themselves if they also choose (I’m kind of doing that at  Blogger obviously survived and is now one of the largest blogging platforms on the planet.

Twitter’s new UI, while I’m sure it will increase page views for them and bring them lots of money, is too late for Twitter to do any sort of innovation in this space.  Facebook already did this, and they were called a “walled garden” as a result and are now trying to break out of this reputation as users were getting ready to revolt.  Maybe that’s what Twitter wants, and I’m sure it will make them a lot of money.  They may even gain a large segment of the masses.  Businesses will still flock and so will the money.  I’ve mentioned Twitter’s need to own the UI before, but I argue it’s now too late to be focusing on that.

Twitter could however, have an opportunity to create a new wild west – a new playing field if they choose, a new canvas.  If they do so they need to focus not on the UI, but on the platform and decentralizing it significantly.  Then new opportunities arise such as payments, new service models, search, ad platforms and more that can still make them profitable.  The difference is they’re now spanning the entire web instead of their own walled garden.

I think Facebook started to make moves in this direction as they released Facebook Connect last year, and then Graph API this year along with no restrictions, redacted term limits on storage, and a push further and further away from building on their own UI.  They introduced a new protocol in fact that enables websites to be indexed more properly and enables those websites to more easily bring Facebook connections into the experience.  Facebook is moving from the walled garden approach out into the open web.  Twitter, it seems, is moving in the complete opposite direction, which seems perplexing.

Even Facebook hasn’t hit the nail on the head yet – maybe they’ll make the first move at the next F8 conference.  The next revolution of the web will be when one of these players that currently owns your Social Graph completely federates, creates a standard for others to follow, and then other companies are forced to follow as a result, forcing all the others to rush to find what they’re good at which wasn’t owning your data or social connections.  Then at that point you will truly be allowed to bring your social connections with you wherever you go, allowing for a web with not only no login button, but one where your family and friends follow with you along the way.  That’s a really powerful concept!

Kevin Marks (who led the OpenSocial platform at Google) mentioned the irony in a tweet earlier today of installing the open source social network Diaspora as we were discussing Twitter’s very centralized real time streaming API and federated environments.  I think that Kevin may be part of the revolution and we just don’t know it yet.  If none of these players make a move, it will be the next open source project like WordPress, or LiveJournal did in the early 00’s that will emerge from the dust, gain traction, and the landscape will naturally adapt.  It has to happen – it’s going to happen, and the first big player to do it will lead the way. I’m excited to find out who makes that move and I’m already thinking of ways I can jump on that bandwagon as a developer.

Picture courtesy

Yes, Facebook Broke Your Trust, and Yes, That’s a Good Thing

It seems like every other post I read these days is about whether Facebook violated users trust, or whether they were wrong, or right in opening up more.  It’s eerily repetitive for someone that’s written 2 (and 3rd on the way) books on the subject and who’s been following Facebook pretty intimately for the past 3 or more years since they launched their platform and exploded like wildfire.  Originally, it was “Facebook is too private”, or “Facebook is a walled garden”.  Suddenly, Facebook opens up, and it happens again, but this time “Facebook is too open”, or “Facebook killed privacy”, or “My trust has been violated”.  I don’t know why it bugs me, because this happens every year, some times a few times a year, and Facebook still keeps exploding like wildfire.

I’ve been debating this privacy post for awhile now, but I really want to get some thoughts out.  For a long time before Facebook became “open”, I had a post in mind where I really wanted to share why I thought Facebook’s “private by default” rules were cheating its users.  At the time, users were sharing information, but they really didn’t know that, despite the “walled garden” they were in, it was pretty easy to do a quick search on them, and, with just a simple Facebook account you could have their work history, name, location, picture, parties they got drunk at, and much, much more information all available to the public.  Look at this picture – this was in 2007!  Heck, even as far back as 2005 all they had to be is a friend to get access to that information – you apply for the job, they send a request, you accept because you want the job, and voila, all that information, exposed.  (Note that this picture doesn’t reveal the fact that most people didn’t lock down the pictures they saved)

Image courtesy, via Matt McKeon.

In the book I wrote with Jason Alba way back in 2007 (I’m on Facebook–Now What???), we shared these exact concerns – they were nothing new.  We shared the example of the “30 Reasons Girls Should Call it a Night” Group on Facebook, and warned, “Always be careful with what you put online, anywhere… photos, comments, thoughts, opinions.  Don’t write or upload something you might later regret!” (Chapter 8, Page 76).  We shared examples of people getting fired from their jobs simply because their friends were co-workers when they stated they were going to be sick and posted about partying all day on their Facebook profile.  We also shared (Page 44) that basically all your information was available to your friends and your entire network(s) by default at the time.  Remember – this was back in 2007.  Facebook had this problem way back then, and it’s amazing that this stuff is still very applicable!

The problem with starting out private is that users are being tricked into thinking their data will never be exposed.  It’s too difficult to know what is open, and what is private.  Sure, privacy controls are cool and all, but what good are they if no one knows how to use them and everyone just assumes that everything they put on the service will remain between just them and their “friends”?

That’s the dilemma Facebook “faced” as they had a “private by default” mentality.  In reality, being “private by default” was bad for the users because the users were being tricked into thinking their data could never become public.  Let’s face it – anything with a search box at the top that lets you search amongst at a minimum your friends, but in reality, at least since 2007 and even earlier, has the potential for the information you shared on that service to be discovered by anyone on the network itself.

Facebook had to make data public by default for them to be fair to their users.  Facebook was in a tough position to be in, but it was a necessary “evil” for the better good of their service.  Now, users can know with 100% certainty that the data they share is public by default and they should be careful before sharing it.

“But, Facebook should have made that opt-in”, you say?  The problem with that is Facebook would have still been cheating their users.  Instead, Facebook sent an e-mail to all their users notifying them of the change, and gave them the opportunity to opt-out.  In addition, the next time you logged into Facebook, all users (note that, according to Facebook’s stats, over half of Facebook users log in at least once daily) were prompted to adjust their privacy settings if they didn’t agree with the changes.  They did that again as they added new features, and thus, new privacy settings you could opt out of.

The fact is that Facebook had to open up in order for them to be fair to their users.  In my opinion, Facebook was being unfair to their users by not being open by default.  The fact is, regardless of this change, Facebook still has the best privacy controls of any service out there, and still gives you the most control over your privacy, but at the same time everyone now knows they have to set it to be so if they choose to be private.  At the same time everyone now knows they should now think twice before posting that drunk photo of them at the party last night.  At the same time we are becoming a much more open, less anonymous society.

Privacy is good.  So is openness.  Identity is good.  Anonymity is not.  By making Facebook a more open place, they are encouraging us, as a society to be more open about what we share.  They’re encouraging us to become more forgiving of one another.  They’re encouraging us to do fewer things in closets, and encouraging more to come out.  They’re encouraging entire regimes to share more, and thus, changing the world in the process.

While Facebook broke all of our trust, I think they’re making it right by making us a much more open society.  They’re removing anonymity amongst us in the process, and we’re growing because of it.  I hope they continue to build privacy controls.  At the same time I hope they continue to encourage us to be a more open people.  Let’s stop lying to ourselves – your data, when on the web, is almost never 100% private.  We need to stop cheating ourselves of that fact.

Facebook Launches Adds Second Product to the OWFa

Just two years ago at OSCON, Facebook, Google, Myspace, and others all joined forces to create the Open Web Foundation, a sort of GPL-like agreement for platform builders to have a common agreement users could understand.  Facebook announced their first support of the OWF agreement in November of 2009 with the launch of the OAuth WRAP protocol, an experimental protocol intended to lead to a more open authentication and authorization platform for Facebook.  Today, with the launch of a new, non-Facebook centric protocol page for, Facebook announced their second entry under the Open Web Foundation Agreement.  According to Tantek Celik, and confirmed by Facebook’s David Recordon on the OWF mailing list, ‘Facebook’s “The Open Graph Protocol” is the most recent user/adopter of the OWFa’.

What does this mean? Basically, it means that the new Open Graph Protocol announced by Facebook yesterday is under a completely open license agreement that other platform creators can adopt, use, and freely distribute without worry of patent.  As I said, in many ways it is similar to the GPL, in that platforms created under this agreement are intended to be re-used and distributed across the web, keeping the license in tact.

The Open Graph Protocol defines specific meta tags which sites can integrate to identify themselves as a “Page” on Facebook’s social graph.  Doing so, and identifying it with Facebook, enables that Page to receive likes, activity updates, and more via Facebook users and “Social Widgets” they can incorporate from Facebook on the site.  I’m still unclear how this benefits anyone but Facebook.

While Facebook’s internal APIs still appear to remain proprietary, it’s good to see Facebook starting to open up.  The good thing about this protocol is anyone can mimick it or duplicate its functionality for their own purposes.  This is something, other than OAuth WRAP, which Facebook just hasn’t had up until this point.  Let’s hope this trend continues.

Did Google Reinvent the Wheel by Adopting the Protocols They Chose?

In a response to my article here, DeWitt Clinton of Google defined what he deemed the definition of “open” to be.  According to DeWitt, “the first is licensing of the protocols themselves, with respect to who can legally implement them and/or who can legally fork them.”  I argue if this were the case, then why didn’t Google clone and standardize what Facebook is doing, where many, many more developers are already integrating and writing code for?  Facebook itself is part of the Open Web Foundation, and applies the same principles as Google to allowing others to clone the APIs they provide to developers.

DeWitt’s second definition of “open” revolves around, according to DeWitt, “the license by which the data itself is made available. (The Terms and Conditions, so to speak.) The formal definitions are less well established here (thus far!), but it ultimately has to do with who owns the data and what proprietary rights over it are asserted.”  Even Facebook makes clear in its terms that you own your data, and they’re even working to build protocols to enable website owners to host and access this data on their own sites.  Why did Google have to write their own Social Graph API or access lesser-used protocols (such as FOAF or OpenID) when they could, in reality, be standardizing what millions (or more?) of other developers are already utilizing with Facebook Connect and the Facebook APIs to access friend data?  Google could easily duplicate the APIs Facebook has authored (even using the open source libraries Facebook provides for it), and have a full-fledged, “open” social network built from these APIs many developers are already building upon.  I would argue there are/were many more developers writing for Facebook than were developing under the open protocols and standards Google chose to adapt.  I’d like to see some stats if that is not the case.  Granted, even Facebook is giving way to Google to adopt some of these other “open” standards so developers have choice in this matter, even if they were one of the few adopting the other standards.

I still think Google is adopting these standards because it benefits Google, not the user or developer.  If Google wanted to benefit the majority of the audience of developers they would have cloned the already “open” Facebook APIs rather than adopt the much lesser-adopted other protocols they have chosen to go by.  This is a matter of competition, being the “hero”, and a brilliant marketing strategy.  Is Google evil for doing this?  Of course not.  Do I hate Google for this?  Only for the reason that I have to now adapt all the apps I write in Facebook to new “open” APIs Google is choosing to adopt.

IMO, if Google wanted to truly benefit the developer they would have chosen to clone the existing “open” APIs developers were already writing for.  This is a marketing play, plain and simple.  It may have started with geeks not wanting to get into the Facebook worlds, but management agreed because in the end, it benefits Google, not their competitors.  If you don’t think so, you should ask Dave Winer why Google is not implementing RSS or rssCloud instead of Atom and PSHB (I’m completely baffled by that one, too).

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The Web is No Longer Open

“So it can benefit everyone.”

That’s what a Google employee said today as he tried to explain Google’s recent push to have websites use the ‘rel=”me”‘ meta HTML tags to identify pages a user owns on the web.  It’s not a bad strategy – index the entire web, know every single website out there, and when they change, and now the web is your network.  The thing is, since the “open” web hasn’t had a natural way of identifying websites owned by users, Google, the current controller of this network, needed a way to do it.  Why not make people identify their websites to Google’s SocialGraph network, and call it “open” so it benefits everyone?  I’m sorry, but the “open” web that we all grew up in is dead now that 2 or 3 entities have indexed it all.  This is now their network.

Let’s contrast that to Facebook, the “Walled Garden”, criticized for being closed due to tight privacy controls and not willing to open up to the outside web.  Of course, all that is a myth – Facebook too has provided ways for website owners to identify themselves to Facebook on the “open” web, making Facebook itself the controller of that social graph data, thereby giving Facebook a new role in who “owns” the “open” web.  Facebook has even made known in its developer roadmap its intention to build an “OpenGraph API”, making every website owner’s site a Facebook Fan Page in the Facebook network.  Don’t kid yourself that Facebook wants a role in this as well.  They’re a major threat to Google, too because of this.

Then there’s Twitter, just starting to realize how to play in this game, now starting to collect user data for search in their own network.  Don’t count them out just yet, as they too will soon be trying to find ways to get you to identify your website on their network.

So we’ll soon have 3 ways of identifying our websites on the “open” web.  I can identify my site through Facebook, as you see by the Facebook Connect login buttons scattered around.  I can identify myself in the Google SocialGraph APIs, which, if you view the source of this site you’ll see a ‘rel=”me”‘ meta tag identifying my site so Google can search it.  Who knows what Twitter will provide to bring my site into its network.  Each network is providing its easiest ways of identifying your site within their own Social Graph, and calling it “open” so other developers can bring their stuff into their networks easily, without rewriting code.

I think it’s time we stop tricking ourselves into thinking the web is open at all.  Google is in control of the web – they have it all indexed.  Now that we are seeing that he who owns the Social Graph has a new way of controlling and indexing the web, which we are seeing by Facebook’s massive growth (400+ million users!), I think Google feels threatened.  They’ll play every “open” term in the book to gain that control back.  Of course the new meta tags are beneficial – is it really beneficial to “everybody” though?  I argue the one entity it benefits most is Google.  Yeah, it benefits developers if we can get everyone to agree on what “open” is, but that will never happen.  I think it’s time we accept that now that the web is controlled and indexed by only a few large corporations, it is far from “open”.  “Open” is nothing more than a marketing term, and I think we can thank Google for that.  No, that’s not a bad thing – it’s just reality.

Do these technologies really “benefit everyone” when no other search startup has a remote chance of competing with owning the “open web” network?

Further note:

How do we solve this?  I truly believe the only solution to giving the user control of the web again is via client-side, truly user-controlled technologies like what Kynetx offers.  Action Cards, Information Cards, Selectors, and browser-side technologies that bring context back in the user’s hands are the only way we’re going to make the web “open” again.  The future will be the battle for the client – I hope the user wins that battle.

Image courtesy Leo Reynolds

UPDATE: DeWitt Clinton of Google, who wrote the quote above this post is in response to, issued his own response here.  The comments there are interesting, albeit a lot of current and former Google employees trying to defend their case.  I still hold that no matter what Google does now, due to the size of their index, any promotion of the “open web” is still to their benefit.  I don’t think Google should be denying that.

UPDATE 2: My response to DeWitt’s response is here – why didn’t Google just clone Facebook’s APIs if their intention was to benefit the developer and end-user?

Twitter Keeps Fighting While Facebook Continues to Grow

David and GoliathEv Williams was quoted recently saying, “The world is big enough for both Facebook and Twitter”, almost as though we were supposed to think Twitter wasn’t trying to be a competitor.  Don’t be fooled though, Twitter’s recent lists feature is just one step towards providing the privacy controls Facebook itself is known for.  Before we know it you will be able to decide which lists you want to share Tweets with, photo services will be integrated, video, groups, messaging, and more, and Twitter will be head-to-head with the features Facebook currently provides.  Twitter wants to go head-to-head with Facebook.  There’s no doubt in my mind that’s what Twitter is trying to do – it’s what they have to do in order to continue growing.  While Facebook’s weakness is the lack of full openness, Twitter has the greater weakness of lack of control or privacy.  Without more than just public status updates their sign ups and traffic will plateau and the service will dwindle and lose value.

Yet, with each update to Twitter comes increased pressure to Facebook to become more open and more public.  Just today, in response to Twitter’s partnerships with Bing and Google, Facebook also shared that it was opening up its own public status updates to be indexed by search engines.  Don’t forget that Facebook already has an ad deal with Microsoft, along with investment.

Facebook’s Lack of Openness is an Illusion

Despite the criticism against Facebook for not being open don’t be fooled.  Not only is your data capable of being open, but you get to control what is, and what isn’t open at the same time.  As of today all your status updates set to go to “Everyone” (check your privacy settings) can now be indexed by search engines.  Expect this to also open up on Facebook itself, along with Facebook’s own search.  Facebook wants to be open – its users have to choose to be open first though.

Facebook’s recent hiring of David Recordon (note that the linked article is by Chris Messina, also a leader in Open Standards technology) is a testament to this I think.  Recordon was one of the leading proponents to open standards and data portability before joining Facebook, and he has been put in charge of just that at Facebook.  With this hire, Facebook has just become a leader in this space.  Notice Facebook’s adoption of the standard, and open sourcing of the Tornado framework acquired from FriendFeed.  Add to that the many other open technologies you can find on their developers site – Facebook is not a follower in this space!  Where is Twitter’s Open Source tools page?

Facebook Fan Pages

Let’s add to that Facebook Fan Pages.  Each and every Fan Page is indexable by Google.  While better integration with personal profiles is still necessary, this is an excellent way to share news and information in the same manner you do Twitter, and build a community at the same time.  Each post is threaded so you can build a conversation with your community.  Each comment, “Fanning”, and post to the Page gets posted to a user’s friends as well, further encouraging conversation and discussion.  This is far from what Twitter offers, and all this is done in a very open fashion – you don’t have to be on Facebook to read the contents of a Fan Page.

I just started building my own Fan Page community (send “fan stay” to 32665 (FBOOK) on your phone), and am already seeing greater interaction there the more I spend using it.  The potential is very strong in a very open, and much stronger environment than Twitter.

Facebook’s Terms of Service are Open Too

Now, let’s talk Terms.  Earlier this year Facebook instituted a new policy stating that any changes to the Terms of Service will be put up to the users.  If enough users disagree, it gets put up for vote by the users.  If a majority of those users vote for the changes, they get put in place.  If not, they don’t.  The current terms are established in such a manner.

Consumerist has a great overview of what these terms changes were.  To summarize, you own your content, and give Facebook the right to distribute that content (this is so they can share it with your friends legally) so long as you are a member of Facebook.  HOWEVER, the minute you quit the site, the terms state that your information at that point is removed, with exception to the photos, videos, etc. that have already been loaded into your friends’ streams.  This is so the stream remains in tact.  There’s termination here.

Let’s contrast that with Twitter, whose terms have no termination and are just as strong, if not stronger.  With Twitter, when you leave the site your content can remain.  There is nothing in Twitter’s terms stating that they have to remove your content when you leave.  You give Twitter that license to your content forever.  Where’s the outcry about that?  Yet Facebook had huge outcry over not having such termination in their agreement.  Facebook has remained open and ahead of Twitter even in this regard.

Facebook’s Acquisition of FriendFeed

I think this is the crown jewel we have yet to see.  We know the FriendFeed team is working on Facebook as we speak.  We also know is not going away.  Will Facebook have FriendFeed-like real-time features?  Will FriendFeed see more Facebook integration?  The one weakness of Facebook is the lack of an easy way for those that want to be public by default (which is dangerous) to be public, while integrating that information with the user profile and other integrated parts of Facebook.  Search still lacks a public interface.  There’s no API to it.  Facebook’s stream is still not real-time while Twitter’s and FriendFeeds are.

The FriendFeed team has the potential to change this.  I predict a real-time Facebook in the near future, with integrated public interfaces and search enabling users to share the content they want to share with the world.  The cool thing is Twitter has already exposed their cards with Lists.  Funny thing is Facebook has had lists for over a year now, and you can even filter searches with those lists!  Twitter doesn’t have that.  The only benefit Twitter’s lists give is the ability to see who other people are subscribing to and subscribe to the same.  I don’t see that as being that hard of a problem to tackle for Facebook.  They’ve seen Twitter’s cards and no one has seen Facebook’s.  Imagine the ability to put Fan Pages into public lists, for instance – I think that would be pretty cool, and pretty easy to implement.  Imagine Facebook’s own privacy controls, including the “public option” available for Lists as well as users and Pages.  It’s also important to note that FriendFeed also had lists before Twitter did.  The combination of both FriendFeed’s and Facebook’s teams means they are the true experts on lists.  I can’t wait to see what they do next.

My Point

So what’s my point?  My point is stop drinking the Twitter Kool-Aid!  Yeah, it has its place – I’m NOT saying get off Twitter, but it’s nowhere near as powerful as what Facebook already offers.  I want to see more news people and early adopters like Scoble and Louis Gray and Steve Rubel using Facebook and Facebook lists to provide content and news.  I want to see more people sharing and discussing content in my own Facebook feeds.  I want to see more people utilizing privacy controls, not available in Twitter, to segregate the content they share, reducing the noise.  Spend some time in Facebook – learn what you can and can’t do with it.  Try to build a community there and see how effective it is, utilizing all these tools at once.

Facebook is not losing this war.  With 10 million fans a day and growing on Facebook Pages alone, 300-350 million users and growing, a much more powerful API and developer ecosystem, Twitter doesn’t even make a dent in what Facebook is doing.  It’s about time we start giving credit where credit is due.  Twitter launching lists is about as effective in fighting Facebook as this video of Ben Parr is in fighting Chad Vader 😉 :


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