Sunday, January 16, 2011

Facebook Will be Replaced by a Protocol

Friday we talked about how everyone used to be online, at AOL, until Tim created the web kept the protocols open and the whole world followed. That is, AOL was replaced by HTTP. The same thing happened a decade earlier when email was a product, sold by different vendors, each one incompatible with the others (that is, you could not send email from one to the others). Then, slowly but surely, all those companies disappeared as everyone moved to SMTP.

Right now, Facebook is in the same position AOL was 20 years ago. It has a closed system and tons of users. Inevitably, people will grow tired of the lock-in and a social-network protocol will take over (maybe, opensocial? I don't know, it seems over-complicated to me). After that, you will be able to "friend" or "follow" anyone in the Internet, regardless of which social app they use, just like you can email anyone regardless of which mail reader they use.

And, that, is just my opinion. Dvorak has similar complaints, but he is just another old curmudgeon, like me. Tim Berners-Lee is very concerned, and rightly so, that we should prefer open standards over giving all our data to one company who does not let others access it. What do you think?

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