If you haven’t seen the post I wrote earlier today, you should.
There’s three key points I’ll quote again here:
1) Facebook is not going to get grassroots adoption with the new like platform. Aside from it being a pain in the butt to get true seamless Facebook integration on a typical Open Source content management system, Drupal and WordPress (and many other content management systems with wide adoption) have pledged support for ActivityStrea.ms, an open standard that in the end will benefit content producers on the web in many of the same ways that the new Universal Like system will benefit them. Certainly, we’ll see prevalence of Facebook on mainstream websites, but the limited benefits for medium to small content producers, combined with difficulty of tight CMS integration will limit the usage of the platform at the grassroots level. At the very least, this should provide a small measure of hope to advocates of Open.
2) Facebook is leaving a lot of money on the table. One of my principal disappointments with Social Ads at their debut in 2007 continues to be my disappointment in Facebook today. The small to medium grade content producer gets screwed when it comes to ad revenue, a topic I and others have talked about ad nauseum. In one of my phone calls today, I gave an example using my website as the test case.
Let’s say I get screwed over by a bank, and I write a post about them, and “credit repair” comes up as a keyword in my post. If I’m running AdSense, I’m going to get contextual matches for Lifelock or CCCS. The fact of the matter is that I’ve probably got 15 – 20 close friends that still read my personal blog, and the rest of my audience reads me at SiliconANGLE. The chances that those 15-20 people are in need of lifelock services is pretty rare, and even if one or two of them are, that’s only $.50 in my pocket at best.
Let’s say Facebook debuted their own version of Social Ads in a web deployment similar to AdSense. They can serve ads, knowing that my 15-20 friends are early adopters, for the next stealth startup looking for users, and possibly capture and convert my entire audience.
No matter how you cut that, it’s more revenue for someone like me than what AdSense could offer, and that would be something that could achieve grassroots adoption in a way no other Facebook offering can.
3) Facebook, with the Open Graph API, will force every private silo of data to do what Facebook itself refuses to do: Open up. This is probably the most key takeaway anyone who’s a fan of Open can come away with from this keynote, and probably something that was the most glossed over by everyone I talked to today. In case you missed it, it’s a move by Facebook, using their market-dominant position in terms of the social web and attention, to force content sites like Pandora, IMDB, Last.FM and even basic content developers, to use principles of the Semantic web to expose the data in their silos (i.e., on the profile page for Green Day, tagging and category data is exposed in the HTML on Pandora’s website). By contrast, Facebook exposes some data via their API, but not in a truly Open sense in the way that Google or even Twitter do.
Regardless of your opinion about Facebook, they’ve given a gift to not just themselves, but every other service on the web with the ability to scrape and spider. Given that this is a nascent standard with highly limited adoption, the head start Facebook has on deciphering this data and utilizing isn’t very much ahead of what Google has.
I can’t get as worked up about this issue as others seem to. I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m incapable of sustaining rage for three years continuously about a single subject I can do next to nothing about. Facebook is here to stay (at least for the time being), and I can either try to cash in on the trend while it’s still a trend, or I can get angry about it and stay poor.
My commitment to Open Source and Open alternatives remains strong, and I’ll always default to those where relevant, but Facebook is offering us a path out of the darkness, so to speak. There is real, usable innovation happening here, and there’s no reason not to take advantage of it until we all iterate on to the next thing.
There’s also indications that Facebook’s attitude towards Open is more, well, open than it was before. The “Open Graph API” is the most Open thing I’ve ever seen come out of a closed company. Certainly, there are many Walled Garden benefits for Facebook to reap from that, but it’s dipping their big toe into the waters of Open in a way that’s encouraging (but certainly not sufficient for most of us to give wholehearted endorsements of Facebook’s reform).
That’s all I got right now. More later.