Lock me in the open platform

Facebook
Whew, everybody's gaga over Facebook. It's the "new, new" thing and it isn't even new!

Just look at these blog search results.

What changed?

Well, expanding it beyond college students helped, but the rage yesterday was a new study that found, heavens, most Facebook at college-educated over-achieving yuppie pups. It's interesting reading.

But really what's giving Facebook its "new, new" status is the release of the Facebook API, which opened up the network to others making all kinds of useful and not so useful toys for it. LinkedIn is already trying to play catchup, but even through the "Facebook Platform" was only announced on May 28, it may be too late.

BlackRimGlasses says:

I’m wondering if this is going to be a trend from all web based applications. The insertion of hooks into the base level operating system (the application as it were) that allows the insertion of application logic into the over-all framework.

And Mathew Ingram thinks LinkedIn's failure to have an API platform makes it the new, new Friendster, and that's a new, new no, no.

The hint from Facebook's success is that closed is, well, closed as in limited. Who wants limits? Programming hooks that allow customization and extension end up supporting and enhancing Web applications just like having developers and third party vendors grows a user base for game boxes, for instance.

Will all the world be on Facebook by, oh, 5:45 tomorrow. Nope. They haven't completely found the right flavors for all.

Rex Hammock, for one, isn't completely drinking the Kool-Aid, but he's sipping:

As great as the Facebook platform is — and one of these days, I’ll explain in detail exactly what makes it so great — it won’t break through to the other side until I can have my powered-by Facebook identity residing at rexhammock.com and allow people who may not be powering their identity with Facebook to interact with me — to join my groups, to poke me, whatever — in the same way those who use another service for e-mail can reach me.

That's the thing about new, new things. After the new wears off, they have to gain our attention with their real value. I've never been a MySpacer (I wasn't 18 at the right time, I guess), but I've been on LinkedIn for a long time and Facebook for several months.

Maybe it's my age, maybe it's how I use it, maybe it's just me, but I find both interesting, and Facebook engaging and fun, but neither come anywhere near approaching a digital must-have app or service like, say, an RSS reader like Google Reader. The Facebook API, however, holds the promise that some smart someone will develop something that I just can't live without.

And then, I'm locked into their open platform. If it works, it's brilliant. Even if it's less than brilliant, it may mean the difference between long-term success and a soon-to-be Friendster.

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