Tim O’Reilly said that in the age of Web 2.0, data is the next “Intel Inside”. With the ever increasing popularity of social networks, the volume of personalized user data is a virtual goldmine for Internet businesses. Facebook has been getting much press lately due to its tremendous growth, as well as emphasis on security and privacy. Interestingly, Dan Birdwhistell wrote an interesting guest post at TechCrunch, claiming to have a legal workaround to accessing and storing Facebook user data for 3rd party use. He says,
There’s one thing about Facebook that most people still seem to have wrong: that it’s a walled garden. Quite the contrary, the Platform allows for full data portability and has since its inception. It actually isn’t a walled garden at all.
Unlike most of us, Dan likes reading through lengthy legalese, and has since uncovered policy-abiding ways to export user data to a hard drive using an app called FriendCSV. He has extended this to enable porting the data to his website to instantly create a new profile without filling up yet another form. In effect, it’s like an ultra-extended OpenID. His post details a thorough guide on how to accomplish all this and is definitely worth looking at if you’re a developer.
However, what I’m not comfortable with is his belief that Facebook is:
…architecting the next version of the web… The result is a web based on users and not content, with an individual’s FB ID ultimately serving as his chief tour guide, passport, and keymaster (but not like Vinz Clortho) around the rest of the web. So if I am right, FB will become king – not as a social network, but as the architect, owner, and manager of the next version of the web. So the point: you need to know how FB works and how you can leverage the Platform to grow your site or business.
Having a king and owner of the Web doesn’t sound right on so many levels. Also, studies
show that the world is heavily segmented between several social networks, that dominance ala-Google in this space is a nearly impossible thing to do. I salute Facebook’s efforts in pushing for a better web, but not another monopoly, please.