Is Facebook the New AOL?

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Doc Searls, a fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, wrote this yesterday:

Much of the activity that used to happen out in the wild unfettered Net, over email, open (XMPP-based) IM and blog posts is now happening inside the Facebook silo. It is AOL 2.0.

Frankly (and unfortunately), I think he’s right.
I frequently hear people refer to Facebook as a “walled garden,” which alludes to its nature of holding all of its content within itself. Data can go into Facebook, but they can never come out (with the one exception being via email notifications, but these are also a Facebook vehicle and not an open or third-party option).
Facebook’s unwillingness to play in an open manner also dampens my enthusiasm for using it regularly, and even lessens my desire to implement other tools such as Google’s OpenSocial and Friend Connect (Facebook was an early partner of these projects, but then abruptly withdrew).
Can Facebook find ways to open up its data, and still maintain security and a profitable business model?
I would like to think so, but only time will tell.
Related: Read Doc’s entire blog post about Facebook, January 5, 2009

2 thoughts on “Is Facebook the New AOL?

  1. Right on! It dampens my enthusiasm also,but the problem is that I have so many non-geeky friends there from 5 continents….Sure some of them are mad how confusing the lay-out or the design generally is, but … they’re there because everybody is ‘there’. So if I want to communicate with them I have no choice.

  2. I agree, it’s still important because it’s where many people are. The critical mass can’t be ignored.
    Still, it’s too bad that Facebook can’t respect its content more for what it is: user-generated. It’s *our* data. Facebook would be nothing without its profiles and users, and they’re not paying any of us for this — it’s free content for them.
    So it seems like we ought to be able to “own” our FB data more, and interact with it (and our friends’ data) in more of a two-way manner and not just on Facebook’s terms, and not only within the confines of their online application.
    Thanks for your comment! =)

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