Friday, December 14, 2007

Platform Wars

Although it might seem to be of interest only to technical geeks, something important happened in cyberspace this week.
The news slipped out in a press release and in the Facebook Developers Blog.
"Bebo, the global Social Media Network, today (12.12.07) announced that it has launched its Open Application Platform, opening its API to third party developers to integrate their applications with the Bebo site."
"The Bebo Open Application Platform will be the first in the industry to implement the standards defined by the Facebook Platform, an open development system that enables companies and engineers to extend Facebook's more than 7,000 applications to other social websites."
In plain English, this means that Bebo has opened up its platform to third party developers and at the same time has made it the same as the Facebook platform; which could lead to the Facebook platform becoming the dominant platform while hindering Google's plans for Opensocial.

At a time when Facebook has been struggling to overcome a few problems related to advertising issues this is a clever move.
Facebook are sharing, but by sharing have moved into a position of control.

Here's Facebook's explanation
"Now we also want to share the benefits of our work by enabling other social sites to use our platform architecture as a model. In fact, we’ll even license the Facebook Platform methods and tags to other platforms. Of course, Facebook Platform will continue to evolve, but by enabling other social sites to use what we’ve learned, everyone wins -- users get a better experience around the web, developers get access to new audiences, and social sites get more applications."
How many users does Facebook have?
How many users does Bebo have?

In the developing battle of platforms, there are two contenders, Facebook and Google but Facebook is taking charge.

They both want a share of the action.
They both want to share.
I wonder will they share with one another?

Remember betamax?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

On Facebook Beacon, Zuckerberg and the Panopticon

It won't be long before anyone interested in Facebook reads or hears of this post from Mark Zuckerberg on the Facebook blog.

He has come to see the damage sustained by Facebook through the introduction of Beacon and reflects on the uneasiness felt by current and prospective Facebook users.

And bites the bullet,
"About a month ago, we released a new feature called Beacon to try to help people share information with their friends about things they do on the web. We've made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we've made even more with how we've handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it."
I know little about the workings of business, but I do know that when something goes wrong it needs to be fixed quickly. When Zuckerberg and Facebook realised that Beacon was flawed they found themselves unable to react. In the panoptic glare of the world's social and media networks they responded far too slowly to the ever increasing criticism.
He knows that now.
"Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution. I'm not proud of the way we've handled this situation and I know we can do better."
As a result Beacon has changed, last week it became an opt-in system; this week users can turn it off completely.

"If you select that you don't want to share some Beacon actions or if you turn off Beacon, then Facebook won't store those actions even when partners send them to Facebook"


In Bentham's Panopticon, the warders looked outwards, at inmates who never knew whether or not they were observed. Control came from the centre.

In Zuckerberg's Facebook, the users have realised they are being observed and have started looking inwards.

Who has control now?

Facebook, it's users or it's partners?