A Call for Open Social Networks...
"Damn the Facebooks and the MySpaces", begins a Wired News article by Scott Gilbertson. It's not yet another maniacal anti-MySpace or Facebook tirade, but a call to arms for programmers (and perhaps those companies themselves) to create an open standard for social networking websites. The Nerfherder says it's about time.
When entering data into Facebook, you're sending it on a one-way trip. Want to show somebody a video or a picture you posted to your profile? Unless they also have an account, they can't see it. Your pictures, videos and everything else is stranded in a walled garden, cut off from the rest of the web.
Like locked cell phones and copy-protected music, Facebook is on the wrong side of the open-network debate. Facebook is a sealed bubble. Facebook users are locked into Facebook, just as iTunes locks music fans to Apple's iPod.
This serves companies' business interests, but not the wider interests of consumers. AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft have their own, proprietary instant-messaging systems. They're all good, but they'd be better if they worked together. The iPhone would be better if it could also be used on Verizon's and Sprint's networks, and Facebook would be better if you could link to friends' pages on MySpace and Bebo. Social networking should be based on open standards, just like e-mail.