Will Everyone Seeking a Job Now Use Adwords? (re: The Google Experiment)
Will Diaspora give us an "open Facebook"?

Jason Calacanis, Facebook, Privacy and the Open Internet

Last week Jason Calacanis ripped into Facebook and privacy in his typical "hold-nothing-back" style:
The Big Game, Zuckerberg and Overplaying your Hand

He brings a poker spin to the Facebook story and states how Facebook is, in his opinion, "overplaying" its hand:

The biggest mistake most new players make at poker is overplaying their hand. They spend so much time thinking of the ways they can win that they forget all the ways they can lose. Overplaying hands can affect even the most seasoned players, especially after they’ve won a couple of hands in a row.

He goes on to chronicle instances of this, list out companies that he views as getting screwed by Facebook right now and link to a good number of recent stories about Facebook's problems.

As a long-time advocate writing about the need for an "open internet", and someone who has been writing about Facebook and the dangers of its privacy policy and Terms of Service, I was pleased to see Jason's advocacy of "an alternate path":

The Web and HTML grew into the juggernaut they are today because they’re based on open standards that everyone can buy into. No one player has control or dominance over anyone else. Facebook’s very obvious goal is to use the their social graph dominance to control the future of advertising and attention on the Web. Why on Earth are we supporting this?


It’s time for the good people of the world to stand up against Facebook. It’s time to build and support OpenID and the creation of an truly open social graph. It’s time to force Facebook to allow open data portability. It is our data, after all. The road map for the open web has been laid out and supported by the “good guys/gals” at OpenID, Google, Twitter, Open Social and countless others who don’t feel the need to control the industry and manipulate our customers.

He's right on target... although I'm not entirely sure I'd include Twitter in his last sentence (I've written about how both Twitter and Facebook violate "The Internet Way" from an architecture point-of-view). I'll admit, though, that Twitter has not necessarily espoused the grandiose aims of Facebook to own all our content and attention.

We do need open solutions... distributed, decentralized and most importantly... letting us be in control.

I can't help but think back to over 10 years ago when many of us were involved with a similar battle with regard to operating systems... and Red Hat's CEO Bob Young had his proverbial question:

"Would you buy a car with the hood welded shut?"

And the follow-on:

We demand the ability to open the hood of our cars because it gives us, the consumer, control over the product we've bought and takes it away from the vendor. We can take the car back to the dealer; if he does a good job, doesn't overcharge us and adds the features we need, we may keep taking it back to that dealer. But if he overcharges us, won't fix the problem we are having or refuses to install that musical horn we always wanted -- well, there are 10,000 other car-repair companies that would be happy to have our business.

In recent years, we've given up much of that control for the sweet call of utter simplicity. Facebook is incredibly easy to use... anyone can get set up, start communicating with friends, and more... the price of that simplicity is that we turn over control of our interactions, our contacts, our photos and our data to a single corporation that does not necessarily appear to have our best interests at heart.

Is the simplicity worth it?

Can we find a better way?

Can we embrace a more open solution? (As messy as it may initially be.)

Remember... email started out in walled gardens of simplicity, too... as the idea of email matured, we broke down the walls and got to a place where you could control where your email server was. It's time we look at how we do that on the social networking side.

The time is now.... can we do it?

P.S. Might Diaspora be a way forward? Maybe... time will tell... right now it's just an idea...

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