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Open social data progress

November 7, 2007 in Uncategorized

My last post here, Google vs. Facebook, was about how our own personal knowledge, that you’ve put into social networks like Facebook or MySpace, should also be open. By this I mean that you should have control of it, and it should be encoded in open formats with open protocols. The last week there’s been lots of progress on this.

Last Thursday, Google, along with an incredible list of partners including MySpace, LinkedIn and Bebo, launched an open API for social network applications. It looks great, basically doing what Facebook applications do, but in an open manner. There has been security problems, but I’m hopeful that they are teething trouble, and Google will make sure they are sorted out. And maybe the API will expand into doing more – such as data portability between sites, enabling backup of social networking data, and even providing a standard online identity system. Tim O’Reilly wrote a visionary post on how this should be going.

Meanwhile, today Facebook launched their new advertising platform. This is exactly what will happen as long as corporations continue to control your data and you don’t – they will exploit it. It looks like Facebook’s adverts are fairly nice and benign, but right now we have no way of guaranteeing that. It would be more reassuring if they had proper competition, that you could move to another social networking site and keep your data and friends as easily as you can change telephone provider and keep your old number.

Last month, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, said they were going to make members’ data portable. Can we trust him? Yesterday, somebody made a Facebook group you can join to put a little bit of pressure on Mark.

Pass it on.

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