On Saturday, after reading Brad Fitzpatrick’s piece about Social Graphs, I did a podcast explaining why it’s not likely that existing networks will allow users from other networks to use their services.
Here’s the 1/2 hour podcast.
Dan Farber asked me to summarize, I suppose that’s all right. I don’t do many podcasts these days. I did this one because I want people to listen. These are relatively complex economic and political issues, and simple thinking won’t yield useful answers.
But I will try to summarize anyway.
1. Brad is absolutlely right, many people are tired of entering the same relationship information for lots of different social networks. I am one of those people. Maybe you are too. Maintaining this information is even more problematic, that’s why we tend to use one “current” social network, and leave a trail of moribund networks behind us.
2. The more tired we get, the more demand there will be for a single resource that allows people to establish and maintain these relationships, and use them in a wide variety of different applications.
3. While Facebook, admirably, takes risks with users’ data, the users are a lot more conservative than we techies might like them to be. Wishing it weren’t so won’t change the way they feel.
4. There are enormous economic incentives for companies that run social networks to not let users of other networks access their services. Shareholder value is a function of how many users they have, how they are “monetized” and how hard it is to switch. The harder it is to switch, the more money each user is worth. Any exec that did anything to decrease the number of users they control would probably be fired. So anything that depends on this isn’t very likely to happen, in existing networks.
5. However, a network that, from Day One, allows users of other networks to participate, and allows developers to access user’s data, with the user’s permission, but without permission from the network, may become the www of open identity systems. As much as it is considered politically incorrect in the tech world to say this, don’t bet on OpenID being that network. You would have gotten roasted in 1991 for saying OpenDoc wasn’t the future, but it wasn’t. For the same reasons OpenID isn’t.
Now if you want to understand why all these things are true, give me 1/2 hour of your time, listen to the podcast. Take it for a walk, or take it with you on your commute. If you’re interested in the future of web technology, I think it’ll be worth the time. :-)
Adriana Lukas: Users do not stand still.
I ran into Tom Conrad of Pandora at BarCampBlock yesterday in Palo Alto and he volunteered that he was at Gnomedex earlier this month, and from his point of view what happened during Jason Calacanis’s presentation wasn’t that big a deal.
I asked him to explain and he told me the story, which he repeats in a blog post this afternoon. I totally appreciate that Tom was willing to speak up. Thanks Tom, I won’t forget it.
Aidan Henry sees it as I did, but I missed his post when it appeared a week ago. “Gnomedex presentations are meant to spur discussions and conversations around trends, standards, principles, ideas, and concepts — not specific companies.”
Fast Company: “As a kid, he was tossed out of school for fighting and mopped blood off the floor of his father’s bar; his mother, an emergency-room nurse, would stitch up the combatants at a local hospital.”
Elaborating on yesterday’s post about video cameras…
I think it’s silly for a group of people in a garage in Palo Alto to think somehow there’s something significant about them standing in the garage on a Sunday morning listening to a talk about the history of the place. It’s a nice place to be if everyone is acting like a normal person, not like a TV star. But with three video cameras running, one a big professional rig (it seems to me) people are exaggerating what they say. As I talk, I wonder which soundbite is going to appear on the blog everyone points to tomorrow. My mind moves away from the garage, out into the future, and I want to get the fuck out of there as fast as I can.
I’m at a cocktail party, but I’ve been drinking water because I’m being taped in every conversation I have. One guy is even live-broadcasting to god knows who. I feel like a presidential candidate. What if I say something which, taken out of context, sounds like I have a belief that’s politically incorrect. Think that’s crazy? In 2003 if you said the war in Iraq wasn’t patriotic, and that Bush wasn’t a visionary, people looked at you like you’re strange. I don’t have to imagine living in a totalitarian state, we’ve been there, maybe we’re still there. But I really would like to be at a party with friends and have a chance to relax and enjoy myself without having to worry whether what I say there makes sense when viewed in a completely different context by people who weren’t there.
All this is a roundabout way of saying that with so much seriousness, having to be so careful so much of the time, maybe people can understand why in the future we may think the greatest luxury is to be so far away from video cameras that our words won’t be recorded, so we can just be dorky shlubby nobodies whose words would seem foolish if the wrong people were listening, even if just for a short while.
I got a chance on Twitter the other day that I don’t think Godwin’s Law is funny, esp in the times we live in. Its assumption is that things never get so serious as to justify a comparison to the most famous fascist regime in recent history.
But Godwin’s Law is cruel because there are still survivors of the Nazis alive today, and it cuts off their using the Internet to teach. And their children are very much still alive. You may want us to forget, but Jews will never forget what happened there.