The Open Social Network

We’ve got social networks with lots of users, like MySpace, Beebo, Facebook, etc, and we’ve got open social networks like Marc Canter’s People Aggregator and Marc Andreessen’s Ning. But we really don’t yet have an open social network with a lot of users.

Facebook took a step in that direction when they opened their platform, but it’s not totally open. I can’t update my Facebook status message with Twitter the way I’d like to. And Netvibes’ cool new widget that runs my Facebook profile inside of Netvibes doesn’t import my Facebook news feed into Netvibes.

Facebook_netvibes

Dave Winer has been thinking about the state of the platform this week and here’s his take on Facebook.

To all vendors who are tuned in, look for ways you’re keeping
your users from managing their own data. The users are getting
educated, fast. Better to be on the right side of this one.

Facebook could easily be the place where the dam
breaks. It’s attracting so many users, who may at some point realize
that they want control of the data that’s locked up inside Facebook.
Then vendors who have been on the right side of this issue will be the
heroes.

I wish it were so, but most of Facebook’s traditional users (like my two daughters) don’t care that their data is locked up in Facebook. I’ll show them my Facebook running in Netvibes when they wake up this morning and they’ll say "that’s nice dad but why would you want to do that?".

I don’t see a Facebook rebellion happening anytime soon. The Techcrunch 50,000 might leave when they realize that they can do most, if not everything, that they do in Facebook on the web on a platform they control. But that won’t make a dent in Facebook’s core audience.

But it may make a dent in where the web development steam is directed. Right now there’s a ton of development effort focused on Facebook. Will that effort stay there? That’s a different question and one I can’t answer right now. But it’s something I am watching closely.