Facebook vs. the Internet...that's what I spoke with new friend David Spark about at lunch day before yesterday. If you read my posts from when the Facebook Platform launched, you know I expected this to happen, but talking it over with him I was inspired to extrapolate a little more. What is new to me is the role Google is playing in pushing this process forward. Let's review the history shall we?
1. The internet became less usable as a communications platform because of spam and other burdens unsolvable by the open standards community. Meanwhile the private systems (namely the webmail providers) were busying them selves with "storage wars".
2. Facebook and MySpace emerge as closed recreations of the internet and are able to restore functionality be removing possibilities (constrained application environment).
3. Facebook "opens" their system setting off a frenzy of creative juice...pent up developer energy that had been waiting for internet standards to catch up with the platform needs of applications developers.
4. Google releases the OpenSocial open API standard and (new prediction) sets the Internet
back on the road to functionality as a communications tool.
Let's put recent events in context...most predictions were for Google to open up their own social network (Orkut) and other applications in the same way as Facebook. Instead what they have done is claim the mantle of fighting for the Internet, the original open platform, thereby reducing (if not completely wiping out the perceived advantage of Facebook's "opening"). That is to say they have reminded us that "open" isn't all that new. And the brilliant thing is that Google only benefits from this indirectly (more traffic on the web means more AdWords sales), but reminds us that in this regard: Google's interests are perfectly aligned with the rest of the Web ecosystem.
Let's put the other side in context also, Facebook fully expected this. That's why that even during the lead up and aftermath of the Platform launch the continued to say their primary value was the ability to best activate the social graph (not the Platform).
Now I fully expect to MySpace to come on board OpenSocial, but not to the exclusion of their own API initiative...and perhaps after some hemming and hawing Facebook will too (there are definitely advantages to staying closed for the time being). Hell Facebook has stated a need for a data portability solution and OpenSocial by it's nature is the type of implementation with the most portability.
And finally to give posterity to where posterity is do...all the credit for reminding the Internet what it means to be open goes to Facebook. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Mark.
(BTW, David describes his business as "creating an editorial voice for businesses"...just talking to him made me gab this long, so I imagine he's good at what he does.)