Another topic Scoble and I talked about today was Facebook. I said I don’t like Facebook, never have, and I finally figured out why.
It’s another one of those user generated content things, only this time I’m building up an address book that I can look at, but can only do things with it that Facebook lets me do.
Why exactly do I need Facebook to get inbetween me and my address book?
I mean, I understand why they want me to tell them everyone I know, but how about letting me download a copy to my computer, so I can back it up, use it on my iPhone or Blackberry, bequeath it to my heirs, write a book about it, or give a copy to Google or Netflix or Yahoo, or you get the idea.
It’s the last thing they don’t want me to do, give a copy to a competitor of theirs. And they hope I won’t notice that I’m doing all this work and not insisting on at least being their equal when it comes to my data.
Sometime in November Google is rumored to be revealing their answer to Facebook. Whatever it is it will surely have an API, and will allow Google apps to share the info, and it will, if it hopes to compete with Facebook, provide some access to this data to app developers. But the true measure of their gravitas will be whether they give full control of the user’s data to the user. If they do that, no matter what’s missing from their software, it won’t suck.
PS: When I write about it, I do it crudely, saying they suck or don’t. When Doc Searls writes about it he calls it Vendor Relationship Management. Doc writes so elegantly because he is a research fellow at Harvard University.
A thread was started by Scoble who suggested, in a phone talk yesterday, that he would pay $10 a month for a Twitter that didn’t have the 140 character limit. Seemed like an excellent conversation starter, so I relayed the idea via email to Fred Wilson, cc’d to Scoble.
While I was at breakfast in Palo Alto the two went back and forth, and the idea that always creeps into conversations about Twitter crept into this one. What about SMS? I guess SMS users are limited to 140 characters? Don’t know.
After I posted a pic of pumping gas on my way back to Berkeley, Scoble called me on my cell phone, which is beautifully integrated via Bluetooth with my car’s sound system (to him it sounded like I was at home, not driving on the freeway), and we discussed many things including this conversation which led me to another sequence of ideas.
1. I wonder if anyone reads my twits on SMS. (I sort of doubt it, many of them have links which would be useless on SMS.)
2. If they do, I don’t care if there are parts of my twits that don’t translate (after all, they’re already living with that).
3. And if I had to check a box saying that my twits wouldn’t be available on SMS at all, I’d happily check it. I really only care about the web, and if your cell phone can’t do the web, well, get another cell phone. I’ve always written software for the highest common denominator not the lowest, why should my micro-blogging platform be any different.
After hanging up I wanted to re-iterate — give me payloads for Twitter so we can go where we need to go. Pictures are a very easy and vital way to express what you’re doing right now. And lots of cell phones (like mine) can do nice lo-rez pics. I want payloads.