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Pop!Tech 2007 – notes and thoughts

My purely biased view of the most memorable presenters, quotes and associated links:

Facebook, the new America Online?

Doc Searls has a new post about Facebook which I came across in Scoble's Link Blog. It mentions something that I've been thinking about too.

Is [tag]Facebook[/tag] the new [tag]America Online[/tag]? Here's what I mean: Back in the bad old days, there were services like AOL, [tag]Compuserve[/tag] which were very popular. I was a committed user.

Built-in information sources, built-in instant messaging, built-in ecommerce, built-in email, built-in search, single signon. Life was good. Nothing new to learn.

But of course we all use the web today which has disaggregated all these, taking advantage of open protocols and formats like HTTP, HTML, and so on. Now I can (and do) use Email from Google, Search from Google (hmm..) and oh yes, eCommerce from Amazon, Craig's List, Ebay, and on, and on and on. I can pick and choose and am not stuck with what AOL or Compuserve decides I need.

Over time AOL incorporated mini-versions of popular web sites to stem the tide. You could order books for example, from Amazon or Barnes and Noble (not sure which) but not both. Maybe you plan travel either with Expedia or Travelocity, but not both. Depends on who was able to make a deal with AOL.

We are seeing the exact same pattern develop in Facebook. Facebook has an API which AOL didn't have. But it's Facebook's API, not a web API, and that makes all the difference.

Think about what happens when MySpace and every other social network also has an API. And what happens when Google gets into the social graph business?

Here's Doc Searls take on it and what got me thinking:

"Here’s the problem. For me, anyway.

I believe the Net is an open place. Same with the Web.

I also believe private walled gardens on the Web are fine things. Nothing wrong with them.

My problem is when the former starts looking and acting like the latter. And that’s why I’m already tired of Facebook. The “friend request” list (top item to the left there) is one I’ve whittled down from a much higher number. If I could gang-whittle them, I might be more interested, but the routine still involves declining to check off which of many different ways I met somebody (”both owned the same dog”, “set up by a mutual ex-boss” or whatever), and other time-sucks. Not to mention that the site takes many seconds to load, or to bring up email, or whatever. At least for me.

The big challenge for Facebook, as it has been for AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple and everybody else who ever ran a walled garden, is to make their “platform” something that sits on the Net and the Web, not something that substitutes for it. Facebook’s mail, for example, is a substitute. If there’s a way I could get Facebook mail with my IMAP or POP client, I’d rather do that. (Can you, by the way? I doubt it, but I dunno.)

Anyway, lif’e’s too short, and this list of stuff is too long. If you’re waiting for me to respond to a poke or an invitation,or a burp or any of that other stuff, don’t hold your breath. Or take offense. I’ve got, forgive me, better things to do." (from : Too much face(book) time)

Is Facebook the new Google of acquisition-lust?

In the past, clever [tag]entrepreneurs[/tag] (yours truly not included, alas) have built companies and products with a very specific plan or desire or hope or scheme to be acquired by some deep pocketed parent-to-be.

Perhaps create a bit of MS Windows Software that looked just like an Office App, interoperated beautifully with Microsoft apps, was written in C#, didn't run on anything but Windows, hoping to catch the eye of Microsoft (remember Visio?). Well I am sure this is still going on with Microsoft, especially since Balmer announced that MSFT will be acquiring 100 companies per year (quantity over quality?)

But lately the cool kids decided that Ajax, Web 2.0, mass market, "we'll make it up in volume" was the road to Google's pocket-heart. And if Google didn't bite, well there was also Yahoo who might (remember Flickr?)

Hey, I am not knocking it. It's a perfectly rational strategy.

Now Flock 1.0 comes out and points the new way. Facebook!

This is from a very positive review of Flock 1.0

"With the facebook inclusion, you can do virtually every action you please from pokes to giving gifts within one click. You can also have one click access to your messages, pokes, friend requests and sharing anything with facebook friends is easier than ever (you can simply drag & drop the image, video, link onto their profile pic in your sidebar…this works for both facebook & twitter)." (from Why Flock is now my Browser of Choice)

Makes a lot of sense to me. Use the Facebook API to create an application or site or product or service that looks exactly like something that they would have developed themselves. This requires you to not only learn their technical specs, but also their business strategy, their marketing, their customers. The effect you want is that Facebook folks look and say, "Hey we should have developed that."

Steven Pinker on Why We Curse

I know that access to my blog is blocked at least by EMC (heard so from friends there) so I will refrain from quoting this article's first word:

"ucking became the subject of congressional debate in 2003, after NBC broadcast the Golden Globe Awards. Bono, lead singer of the mega-band U2, was accepting a prize on behalf of the group and in his euphoria exclaimed, "This is really, really, ucking brilliant" on the air." (from Pinker on Why We Curse)

It's actually a serious article about linguistics, culture and human nature. Well written, well reasoned and interesting. Read Steven Pinker, Why We Curse, "What the F***?"

Steve Jobs’ Change of Heart: iPhone SDK on its Way!

Check out this post from Mashable!:

"[snip…]The other shoe has dropped. Steve Jobs has seemingly changed his mind about how he feels towards third party development of native applications for the iPhone. An iPhone and iTouch SDK are scheduled for launch in February of next year, just after MacWorld San Francisco[snip..]".

(from: Steve Jobs’ Change of Heart: iPhone SDK on its Way!)