Facebook Connect AKA Hailstorm 2.0
December 1, 2008
Let me quote the highlights for you:
If the initial development race of Web 2.0 centered around “building a better social network” then the next phase will certainly focus on extending the reach of existing social networks beyond their current domain. How? By using the elements of the social graph as the foundational components that will drive the social Web. Where we once focused on going to a destination – particular social network to participate – we will now begin to carry components of social networks along with us, wherever we go. In the next phase of the social Web, every site will become social.
Agreed. That’s been the vision and promise of much of my work for more than a year.
Here’s the scary part
Facebook Connect proposes to make data and friend connections currently held within the walled garden of Facebook accessible to other services. This has two distinct benefits, one for the sites and one for Facebook.
For the participating sites, Facebook Connect provides more social functionality without a great deal of additional development. A new user can opt to share the profile information in Facebook instead of developing a new account. This gives the user access to the site and its services without the tedium of developing yet another profile on yet another site. In addition, users can use the relationship information in Facebook to connect to their friends on the other services. In short, it makes the new partner site an extension of Facebook.
Essentially, Facebook is trying to replace all logins with their own, and control the creation, distribution and application of the social graph using their proprietary platform.
The most scary part of this, is that while Facebook is quietly and methodically building out this vision with massive partners, the standards community is busy squabbling about naming the open alternative.
Is it Data Portability? Is the Open Web? is it Open Social? Is it Federated Identity?
At the start of this year one would have thought that the open standards movement got a huge boost by the massive explosion of the DataPortability project. It’s set of high profile endorsements catapulted the geeky standards conversation into the mainstream consciousness and helped provide a rallying cry for the community to embrace.
Instead of embracing it, though, many of the leaders in the community decided to squabble about form and style. They argued about the name, about the organization, about the merits of the people involved – on and on it went.
Instead of embracing the opportunity, they squandered it by trying to coin new phrases, new organizations and new initiatives.
The result is a series of mixed messages that have largely diluted the value of DataPortability’s promise this year. The promise of making the conversation tangible for the mainstream – the executives who are now partnering with FaceBook.
Will we let this continue into 2009? Will we continue to allow our egos to get in the way of mounting a real alternative to Hailstorm 2.0? Are we more interested in the theater of it, the cool kids vs. the real world or will we be able to reach the mainstream once again and help them to understand that entire social web is at stake?
I’ve not lost hope. There are countless reasons why Facebook and it’s Hailstorm 2.0 are not inevitable.
I have, however, lost a lot of respect for a lot of people I once admired. Maybe they can clean up their act and we can work together once again in the new year.
I put a call out to all those who are interested – technologists, early adopters, bloggers (especially bloggers), conference organizers, conference speakers, media executives – let’s get our act together and take this party to the next level.
I, for one, am looking forward to it.