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Marc's Voice

building the open web one bit at a time

Twitter is now worth like half as much as it was last week

Fred Wilson has a revisionist outlook on Facebook opening up their feeds, mainly to protect his investment in Twitter.  I agree that AIM started all this, but it should be noted that Twitter just finished negotiating to be purchased by Facebook – so one has to ask yourself “why didn’t the deal go down?”

A pessimistic outlook might say that Facebook danced around with purchasing Twitter to:

- a) suck their brains and see if there’s any business model there (I guess not)

- b) floated their world view and plans past Mr. Williams and Mr. Stone to watch their faces when they reacted to the news that Facebook would be opening up their feeds (I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when the shit hit the fan this week)

- c) look at the technology and see how they’re currently scaling Twitter (which seems to have been stabilized)

But I’m an optimiist and I really don’t care about whether Fred Wilson makes any more money (or for that matter Evan Williams.)

What I care about is the open web.

I care about connecting these kind of services together.  Twitter enables 3rd party developers, but insists on having a single vendor approach.  I much more prefer the approach that Identi.ca is taking.  Meanwhile FriendFeed is pushing the envelope but they’re ALSO a lock-in single vendor approach.

What we saw last week is the king of new age lock-in – Facebook – continue to innovate and take incremental steps towards open, on their own terms.  I have been harranging them over the past year or so (privatey and publicly) and I was assured that – over time – they would come to us “on their terms.”  And sure enough – they’ve stuck to their word!

Facebook Connect extends their notion of privacy into the open web.  Dynamic privacy solves many issues that have worried users, government and business about our open web.  Facebook’s experiments in targeted marketing will eventually grow into a game changing, personalized monetization model.  Just give them time.

And their public support of OpenID is being backed up with the REAL work of figuring out solutions to our UX conundrum.  ALL of this is proof that Facebook is the real dal.

Meanwhile I still haven’t seen any business models coming out of Twitter.  But what I DO know is:

- Facebook is continuing to open up further, while we’re still waiting for Track to return to Twitter – and for some evidence of a business model

- Facebook shipped Facebook Connect, and has not provided access to their feeds, and APIs for uploading videos and sharing links – all game changers

- Facebook has joined the OpenID Foundation

- they’re continuing to press the innovation envelope further – which keeps MySpace honest and on their toes

All of that is a good thing.

Dare Obasanjo pragmatic analysis of the new code has already found a limitation – so we’re not done yet. But he notes that Facebook in fact will not get hurt at all by supporting OpenID.

So big shoutout of thanks to Zuckerberg on down on doing the right thing!  Especially to Dave Morin and Josh Elman.

How Microsoft fits into all this and Facebook’s ultimate competitor (for smart targeted ads) Google – will be seen.

But one things for sure.

Whatever Twitter was worth last week is less than it is this week. Maybe not half, but certainly substantially less.

Date: Saturday, February 7th, 2009 | Time: 12:19 pm
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Extending the OpenID Attribute Exchange

Now that Facebook and MySpace have truly opened up and will allow their users to move their profile data, social graph and content to other systems (under certain access controls) its time to talk about these behemoths connecting together via the OpenID Attribute Exchange.

Initially developed by Dick Hardt and Sxip Networks - the Attribute Exchange specification as it exists today was contributed to OpenID2 – as it became clear that OpenID was the winning solution for identity management.

First off I want to thank Dick for his enlightened approach and understanding of the politics and nuances surrounding evolving open standards and I’m excited as hell by something Allen Hurff (SVP of MySpace) said to me at the recent Facebook f8 conference:

“We looked at Attribute Exchange and we like it, but we need to do some extensions to it to match our solution.”

So this blog post is a plea to Allen, Dave Morin (Facebook), Kevin Marks (Google), Eran Hammer-Lahav (Yahoo), Angus Logan (Microsoft), Joseph Smarr (Plaxo) and of course David “get it done” Recordon (SixApart) to work together and extend the Attribute Exchange – so that we (the industry) can ALSO mesh into this compatibility ‘river’ of data and deliver to ALL our users and customers the ability to freely and easily flow their data – wherever the hell they want.

And let’s not forget Chris Messina and Will Norris (Vidoop and DiSO), Stephen Paul Weber, Leah Culver, Ben Laurie, Brad Nueberg, Simon Phipps, Scott Kveton, Tantek Celik and Brian Oberkirch – and all the other independents who are working on open social networking – in their various guises and scenarios.  Or Dave Winer.

I know I’ve been ranting about this for a while (my wife actually complained to me that she’s sick and tired of hearing the same dam thing over and over again) but I hope you all agree that this idea’s time has come.

The key ascept to these extensions (from my POV) is matching, mapping and normalizing the various techniques of access controls.  This will facilitate the smooth movement of user’s data between systems – with concise privacy and access controls over that data.

If one sets up their controls – in say Facebook (and utilizes their recently announced ‘dynamic privacy‘ system) then it HAS to match up to whatever MySpace and Google are doing.  And vice versa.

And Microsoft is gonna have to play along with us – as well.  We need to put the user’s best interests first and let that dictate what happens.  But it seems to me that Facebook’s DRM bits for people sort of sets a standard level of behavior here – so the trick will be how others can get compatible with Facebook (utilizng other techniques.)

The goal is that (let’s say by Thanksgiving) we all have a normalized set of access controls with which we can interop between.  It’s not just about enabling Facebooks apps to work outside of Facebook. Its about moving MySpace data into Facebook, then moving it to Orkut or Microsoft’s world – and back to Yahoo or Plaxo.

I’ll leave the technical details to you folks as to what exactly needs to get extended and mapped.  But certainly upcoming efforts on portable contactswill supply us with a standardized schema and set of APIs to interconnect the PUT and GET of profile info.

Now we need to just all agree upon some common notions of media, messages, events and places, and of course the 800 lb. gorilla of them all – social graph.  Both FOAF and XFN provide ways of doing that.

So let’s have at it.

BTW here are Dave Morin Allen Hurff and Kevin Marks (and me) at f8:

Final note – Allen says to me: “we’re trying to decide between FOAF and XFN” and I immediately say BOTH dude BOTH!  We need them BOTH!

Date: Sunday, July 27th, 2008 | Time: 12:30 pm
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