Guardian column: Facebook’s choice

My Guardian column this week (a last-minute substitution for the BBC Newsroom column, which delayed to the next time because of an overdose of BBC news) is about Facebook’s momentous choice — control v. openness — and how Google maneuvered them into it.


That is the essential choice Facebook faces: openness v control. That quandary is not unique; every media company is now facing the same choice in the Google age. Google values openness so it can search you and send audience to you.

Whoever succeeds in mapping the social graph will better understand how society operates: who is friends with whom; who is influential; what we like; what we do. The winner in the social war will understand how we behave and interact and it can bring that knowledge to commerce, advertising, media, even government. That is the real prize.

  • In re: “openness v control”: Chris Messina makes an interesting comparison between Facebook, the USSR and railroad gauges… See:

    bob wyman

  • Openness vs. control: being a publisher vs. a “pass-through” network. The difference between being traditional media vs. Google. Even Goog at some point has to capture someone through their matter — on something. But they are fine as long as someone passes through them. No destination needed. (In fact, their biggest destination, homepage, has no “monetization” today. Imagine how much ads on that page could fetch. But they’re not going for it)

  • Interesting question: I wonder whether anyone has ever calculated the opportunity cost for Google of not putting an ad on its home page.