First Scott Heiferman and then Jason Kottke tried to tamp down the yeasty enthusiasm for Facebook’s platform by making comparisons with AOL, arguing that this was just another closed network. (Heiferman has since said that he has changed his thinking but he doesn’t have time to explain how. Damn. Kottke has amplified his thinking here. )
They hhavead a good and interesting argument, but after thinking about this a lot, I’ve come to disagree — because the two services are closed for different reasons: AOL was closed to give AOL control over us and our money. Facebook is closed to give us control over our identities and communities. AOL tried to “own” — their language back then — our relationship with them. Facebook enables us own our relationships with our friends. Kottke complains that my stuff on Facebook is not searchable on Google, but I think that’s the point; I should decide what I want to be searchable and findable to the world instead of just my friends. Yes, it’s closed, but I get to build the walls this time.
I’ve also argued, agreeing with these gentlemen, that Facebook needs to be more open if, indeed, it intends to become the Google of people. It needs to let me export and open to the world more of my faces. It needs to let me import more of my identity from elsewhere on the internet. It needs to help me organize and present that better. Will it do all that? I have no idea. The platform, I think, is a first step. It’s the next steps that matter.