Status (continued)

A few days ago I wrote a post where I observed that status has become the ultimate social gesture.

I think Facebook's decision to open its status messages via the API is a very important moment in the emergence of status the the atomic particle of social networking.

And yet, I still have a problem. My brother (aka Jackson) commented at Facebook this morning on a twitter update I wrote about the weather in NYC

I know that because Facebook sent me an email about it.

I want to get that comment in Twitter (or any other service I might choose to use) and be able to @reply to it and get it back to him in Facebook.

That's the use case that has made status conversational and led to its ascendancy.

So, what more needs to happen from Facebook and Twitter and the other status producing services to truly open up this conversation?

I want this pretty badly and I am sure a lot of you all do too.

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#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. aakar

    I haven’t looked at Facebooks API closely enough to understand whether you can use the API to post comments, but I had a similar idea over the whole status business a few days ago. It would be nice to update Facebook and twitter together, with only certain statuses. For example, there are various times when in twitter people do actually post their status, it would be nice if they could just add @facebook <message> and have their Facebook status updated also. All other times though twitter would exclusively be updated. I know there is a twitter application which updates your Facebook status, but that just seems like overkill most of the time. I consider twitter to be more of a micro-blogging platform then a true status platform, where-as I consider Facebook status the opposite.

    1. pweitzman

      I agree about the twitter facebook app. I stopped using it because for me my tweeps and my facebook friends (ffeeps?) are distinct groups, and most of my twitter updates would be meaningless to my ffeeps.I tried, which allows you to post status with some finer grained control over where it goes, but found that not being able to use my twitter client of choice (twhirl) made it too burdensome.I did enjoy getting facebook responses to my twitter messages though. Fred’s use case above would indeed be sweet.

    2. fredwilson

      Excellent point. I believe that my @replies are not posted to FB via the twitter facebook app and that makes sense. But an even tighter filter would be great

      1. Jamie Lin

        From looking at FB API’s documentation:http://wiki.developers.face…It seems an FB App, e.g. Twitter FB App, can use FQL to retrieve all comments associated with a “target,” which in this case is an FB user’s status (automatically re-posted via Twitter FB App). At that point, Twitter can actually just feed those comments as @reply’s back to original Twitter.But now the question becomes what identifies does Twitter use to show these people on Twitter? They’ll have to implement some sort of mechanism to retrieve these people’s FB identity — profile picture, name and then link that back to FB. It’s not hard but does that make Twitter’s user experience a bit awkward? (Sometimes a username links back to a Twitter account but sometimes an FB account.) Of course they can use some sort of visual cue to solve that.Another option is to send these comments back to the original Twitter as direct messages.

  2. andyswan

    Even if facebook would take the simple step of allowing me to reply to facebook alerts directly from email… would become far less annoying.Maybe facebook should buy disqus.

    1. fredwilson

      They could do that easily and they should and I bet they will. But opening up status more broadly is the big win for everyone in this market

    2. Hammer

      Facebook went after twitter a couple of weeks ago unsuccessfully, maybe they should go after friendfeed instead. If friendfeed incorporated facebook status natively, it might be able to not only do exactly what Fred mentions in this post, but would also have a twitter replacement. I feel like friendfeed as of now really relies on twitter for discussion topics. Also, this new facebook/friendfeed status could instantly overtake facebook in footprint.

  3. falicon

    There’s a lot that would still need to happen…first there really would need to be an open standard for status agreed upon (you could argue that twitter’s API is the standard, but that doesn’t mean facebook and the others will actually adopt it)…once there’s a standard for exchanging status information, there needs to be some way to connect systems together (and this is the bigger challenge)…because ideally you would want someone like your brother not to have to first create accounts in each system, then link all those accounts….you want him to use the service he wants to use, and you use the service you want to use, and yet have them still communicate…but this would require each service parsing each of their own status updates, determining if it’s for a user on their system or not…if it’s not, then they have to start pinging all the other services until they figure out who it really is for and on what service it is…then send the status to that service via the open standard…All of which brings us to this point…the best poised to make this happen right now is a 3rd party service (ie. friendfeed or something like that)…but the minute it becomes a third party service, it loses the whole point (because now everyone has to use that third party service instead of the systems they really want to use)…Anyway until facebook, Twitter, and the others see enough value in parsing and directing their own status out to others, I don’t think we’ll see a nice, clean, system for cross network communications like you are looking for…just my two cents.

    1. Eric Marcoullier

      That was pretty much what I was going to say, so thanks for saying it better.It reminds me of the IM wars of the 90s and early 00s. Twitter and Facebook need to get together and standardize the way *they* trade status back and forth. Once that happens, it’s a defacto standard.

  4. Henry Yates

    I can see Facebook resisting this as it seems they would like to be the de facto social UI. If they allow everyone to update their Facebook via another tool do they risk loosing their dominant position to another player?

    1. markslater

      the paradox of an open platform.

    2. fredwilson

      That kind of thinking works in the short term but hurts in the long term. Customer end up resenting lock inCable companies are one example of that

      1. Henry Yates

        Yes, good point. I am sure they will drag their heels though.

      2. Henry Yates

        I have just been checking out Google’s new social bar. (I wrote about it here… I can see lots of websites implementing it. This will have the effect of introducing social media to a new demographic – more and more people will start to use a profile (I do not know what the social media penetration is – anyone have any stats?). I can see this being an important element in creating a more open social environment.

        1. fredwilson

          I have to check it outI’ve heard it looks a lot like the glue bar from our portfolio companyadaptive blue

          1. Henry Yates

            yes, very similar. You can also easily add different forums on different pages of your site. This site has an example of how it works

    3. Bertil

      Actually, the most likely option is that the users of the other tool are attracted to Facebook: code and open standards can lower many efforts, but it won’t change the fact that one site has the most active users — and that will always attract users into a lock-in. Getting the dominant position is already hard for e-mail (GMail might make it at some point after four years, with a spectacularly superior product) where you don’t care so much about what your friends use; for SNS, it’s border-line impossible without the incumbent making massive mistakes.

      1. Henry Yates

        Once you allow comments to pass back and forth between networks and allow your social graph to span seamlessly between networks, the lock in starts to disappear as the benefits of critical mass are eroded. It becomes more like email – you can link/communicate to anyone anywhere.

  5. cyanbane

    There is no bigger thing that is needed right now to truly establish “presence” at any given moment. So who becomes the hub? Twitter seems like the best call as of now for me, but I am sure everyone is different. Do we go the openid-ish route and attach it to a set of credentials that can be passed around? Whoever opens up the gate to their gears the most is probably gonna win, but that takes money, uptime, and a company really dedicated to the idea that is completely transparent in that area (even with their competition). 2-3 years ago I would have certainly said the big G, but coupled with all my other data they want to “organize”, the concept of me wanting to give them that ability is fading faster and faster.

  6. Brian

    i think most people agree that twitter and facebook status serve different purposes, and they don’t really like having both together. So, is there a good application that can aggregate all of these services together while giving you granular control over where to post updates?Also, Fred, your use case is handled fantastically by disqus over email (as I’m sure you know), maybe have Daniel and Jason give Zuckerberg a call… (disqus is working on twitter integration too, right?)

    1. fredwilson

      I am sure facebook has the engineering chops to do that themselves in short order

      1. Brian

        Agreed. I’m sure they made the specific decision to drive page views through those email notices.(This update via email on my blackberry, fantastic)

  7. Jac Gio

    Hi,I think there are mainly 2 options:A) all your social web life converges on one single application, for you it will be Twitter.B) your social web life is diveded on different applications : you post differently on twitter than on FB or …In option A, yes it will nice to be able to get all communication towards you in just one application: what about FriendFeed?in option B, we need a new aggregator of conversations but that keeps in/out data streams separate

  8. danhung

    That sounds like a great idea and 100% fitting with the recent trends to open up networks and allow cross compatibility. More than that, I’m sure most users would appreciate it as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to manage accounts across the countless social services available today.My question on this is, how would one match this consumer need with a viable business? If we use IM as a model, becoming the first hub for instant messaging established a wall around AOL’s business that you could argue kept them viable for years longer than they should have been. I know many people who kept paying for AOL accounts simply to keep their screen name. Even more have probably used AIM and related portal services much longer than they would have if there had the system not been proprietary. In fact, AOL likely derived much of its initial success transitioning from ISP to internet portal by leveraging its IM user base.As IM has become an increasingly open protocol, it’s hard to say that there’s a defensible business model that can be built around IM anymore. Instead, IM/chat has become an ancillary featured which is added to create tie in for larger user networks. Would an open microblogging/status platform similarly degrade business value in operating a Twitter-like network?

    1. fredwilson

      I think not. The value is in the traffic twitter drives out. The links are embedded in the status messages. So locking them up is bad

  9. kidmercury

    IMO all roads lead to API standardization. the need for agreed upon standards i think will lead to open source “governments” — organizations that democratically establish the standards upon which businesses in that ecosystem adhere to. basically i think web platforms are going to have sloppiness and usability issues until participating companies can come to an agreement on how they are going to divide the pie.i tend to view this as part of the post nation-state revolution, and is a starting point for how virtual governments disrupt “real” governments.

  10. Paul Lightfot

    I’m on the other side of this. I “twitter” via Facebook, which is primarly how I keep in touch with people. I have people who “follow me” on twitter, which I think is linked up with FB, but I don’t really understand how (or why).I get facebook and I like the whole status update thing. But when I’ve got 600 friends on FB and we can all do status updates there, I’m not sure why I need twitter as well.Seems like Twitter is X while FB is 10X (and including X).

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t think you need twitter if you get what you need from FB

  11. Erik

    I’m agree that integrating status updates is a big deal. I also agree that facebook et al now allowing email replies really sucks. But they are highly motivated to draw you back into their site.In my book, the long term solution will require multiple platforms to be willing to talk to each other. A centralized third party isn’t consistent with modern web zeitgeist, imo. Luckily, status is a very simple thing, so with a little effort a standardized API for status “push” is all that’s needed. Then, if facebook chose to “play nice” you could set up your facebook profile to “push” status updates to any site you choose, just point to their status API handler and provide login info. Obiously, facebook could do whatever they want with the UI including a way to choose which services to push this particular status update to.A slightly thornier problem is providing context. I like the way facebook groups comments on a status update with that status update, instead of how twitter @replies are just out in the wild. The winning API in the long term needs to provide that context somehow, and like you say allow it to propagate back through the chain.If the world starts moving this way, their will be an all-out war to provide the “best” platform for pushing status. Seems like a good thing to me!

  12. erlichson

    While you use twitter both for personal status and for microblogging observations about the world, I believe twitter will wind up as a microblogging service and not be a substitute for the double-opt-in connections one has on facebook. When someone comments in facebook, they have the expectation that the comment will enjoy a certain degree of privacy, that only your friends will see it. When you move that comment to twitter and allow the conversation to continue there, you violate that privacy and make the comment and the reply public (is there a way to keep @reply’s secret?). Hence, I am not sure the feature is all that desirable.

    1. Jac Gio

      Secret @reply on Twitter ? Just send a Direct message 😉

  13. David Semeria

    Two points: the first (which I meant to make the first time round) is that status and micro blogging are fundamentally different, even if they do share the same platform. Status is dull. I don’t really care if my best friend is waiting for a bus. Twitter really took off when people started using it as a micro blogging platform. This hasn’t happened yet with FB status, and I don’t think it will.The second point regards having more control over which messages are sent/received to/from whom. This is all about organization. I firmly believe there is a huge opportunity to come in with generic tools which allow people to better organize all their ‘stuff’ online.

  14. RacerRick

    I kinda like having my Facebook status in a walled garden.For me, and from what I’ve read other folks as well, Facebook is a place that is at least a little more private.For example, I rarely mention that I’m traveling on Twitter. But on Facebook, I use my ‘status’ to tell my friends that I’m in their town.I hope that Facebook lets us choose what gets APIed.

  15. scandelmo

    I enjoy Twitter as a micro-blogging tool whereas FB is more personal in terms of status. I don’t care to share with the world my “status” (and I would be surprised if they would care) but I do enjoy sharing it with my closed circle on FB. In my opinion, different value, different scope. It would be nice to have one universal tool though for me to choose what platform to publish on and/or direct such thoughts or replies.

    1. fredwilson

      Right, but if you are on FB and see one of my tweets (I don’t use FB but Ido send my tweets their since I have a large network there), wouldn’t youwant to be able to @reply to it?

  16. Joe Lazarus

    I suspect this is more of a social integration challenge than a technical challenge.As someone who is active on both Facebook and Twitter, I notice that people initially ask for better integration between the two services (me included), but over time, once they get what they ask for, they often start to notice that the communities are different and don’t mix that well from a social interaction perspective. We also saw this on Tumblr where people tend to import their Twitter feed early on, but later remove the feed after realizing that it doesn’t play nice with the Tumblr community. There are some really tricky social dynamics that would need to be translated correctly between the two services, each with it’s own language (ie. people on Facebook don’t understand terms like @, RT, or DM), purpose (ie. Facebook status tends to be personal updates whereas Twitter use is more broadly defined), and social graphs (ex. my Facebook friends are people I know in real life, whereas most of the people I follow on Twitter are people I’ve never met).

    1. Steffan Antonas

      While I really want this feature too, Joe makes a few great points that need to be considered in the design. I currently have Twitter driving my Facebook status updates. I want the ability to have one platform for origination and engagement that works horizontally across platforms, ESPECIALLY with Facebook because I find that I get much more personal, engaging interaction with members of my Facebook community (500 people I know well offline) vs my public twitter community (5000+ people I don’t know well). I’ll get 2 or 3 comments from non-twitter, real-world friends in Facebook a day that are personal and relevant that I would love to use Twitter alone to respond to. But these these people are commenting and interacting with the assumption that their Facebook world is private and protected, visible to people who know them – it’s a completely different mind set and context for interaction. Joe is right, there’s a major difference in culture there that needs to work itself out. Perhaps a safe middle ground would be for Twitter’s facebook application to send DM’s back to your twitter client when a twitter-to-facebook status item was commented on within Facebook. That shouldn’t be too hard, and it solves the context issue.

    2. fredwilson

      The integration I want is the conversational integrationIf my brother comments on a tweet I pushed into FB, then I want to see thatin a web service that allows me to reply backMaybe email is that service but somehow I think we can and should do better

  17. Gavin Baker

    I agree! One of my biggest frustrations is that exact scenario. I’ve thought about unsyncing my tweets and fb status but that doesn’t really solve the problem.One day it will all come together.

  18. Resound Creative

    I heartily agree.The link between full integration of Facebook’s status updates and Twitter is lacking and I mostly put the blame on Facebook. Facebook has proven time and again that they are not interested in allowing data out of their little world but only in, if even that much.Status updates and comments do not go out, picture albums cannot be fed to applications outside of Facebook, comments on blog posts imported in from outside the Facebook world do not then go back out to populate on that blog’s site. While I’m sure there are some technical issues involved in rectifying these issues, it appears to me that Facebook is only interested in bring people into their network and keeping them there.It will be interesting to see if anything does happen to make Twitter and Facebook more interoperable, especially in the ways you described above.I’m not holding my breath though.

  19. Guest

    Here’s a technology I am contemplating. A little gadget connected to the Internet; you take a Q-tip and wet it under your tongue; then you stick it in the gadget and it measures your endorphin levels; then it updates it on the Web (Twitter, Facebook, whatever). Now not only you broadcast your status, but an independent biochemical determination of your “happiness” state. How cool is that?Give me five years for it, though. (biodetection is not as fast and easy as web technology development…)

  20. Todd Allen

    It would be a total hack but I *think* it would be possible to do today.I’m too busy on another FB Connect app to do it, but in case anyone wants to explore the idea:Create an app that:1. Has the user opt-in to offline access via the “offline_access” extended permission.2. Polls at some interval for outstanding notifications for opted in users3. Parse for the @whatever tag 4. Post to Twitter via their API.5. Profit? :PCertainly not ideal but could be a workaround unless I’m missing the point.-Todd

    1. fredwilson

      I up for a hack but can’t build this myself unfortunately

  21. Cliff

    It seems this discussion is addressing two elements. First, there’s the idea of one person, one identity, one status (i.e. Fred Wilson is Fred Wilson is Fred Wilson, whether he happens to be updating his status via Facebook or Twitter or any other service.) But, there’s also the notion that each service caters to a different communication vibe, and that means having to distinguish between different flavors of status.I hope I’m not over complicating this when I say that a truly open and universal solution that addresses both needs elegantly seems to require five things to be in place:(i.e. a long answer to “what more needs to happen from Facebook and Twitter and the other status producing services to truly open up this conversation?”)1) A universal identity management platform of Users (i.e. OpenID)2) A universal service directory of Status Publishers (i.e. via UDDI or what have you)3) An agreed schema of Status Types (i.e. {MICRO_BLOG, WHAT_IM_DOING_NOW, …})4) A many to many mapping for each User of which Types should be broadcast to which Publishers5) A common API supporting something like: postStatus(PostUserid, StatusMessage, StatusType, ReplyToUserid)With that in place, when a User authenticates through any application on the platform and posts a StatusMessage update with a User provided StatusType (and optional ReplyToUserid), the application – and all target Publishers – have everything required for the message to propagate to all intended target Publishers. Moreover, without this in place, it feels (at the moment, anyway) like any “solution” will just be a hack with lots of holes and glitches.

    1. Jac Gio

      Agree: +1 . let’s call it My Single Social Interface 😉

    2. fredwilson

      Sounds right to meBut I also think we’ll see a bunch of “hacks” to solve this problem untilthe big guys do it for us

  22. Ian Bell

    Sounds like you’re asking for Federation, no?The IM networks tried to make this work, and the DoJ even made it a condition of the AOL-TW deal, but it’s never really happened. The twentysomethings from Google thought that they’d be natural candidates to do it via GTalk and, having been in high school when it was first attempted, again floundered.I’m noticing that twitter is starting to become like active sonar: lots of people squawking and pinging, but nobody listening and fewer people conversing. Perhaps that’s OK?The principal way to make your tweets and status updates more of an engaging conversation is to make syndication pass two ways rather than one.