Facebook Connect: The masses and the fishbowl

Facebook Connect: The masses and the fishbowl

Summary: Facebook Connect, a service that allows someone to log on to Facebook from third party sites, is set to expand from its May launch.Reading the conversation this morning on Techmeme familiar storyline emerges.

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Facebook Connect, a service that allows someone to log on to Facebook from third party sites, is set to expand from its May launch.

Reading the conversation this morning on Techmeme familiar storyline emerges. Facebook's Connect vs. the Open Social alliance between Google, MySpace and a bunch of others.  Om Malik has an overview of the technical debate (see Facebook developer wiki) and how it boils down to whether social networks should federate social identities or aggregate them.

It's all good stuff, but I can't help but go split screen on Facebook Connect. On one screen you have this techie discussion about standards, whether users should control their own identity and whether Facebook Connect hooking up with Digg and Hulu among others is a privacy worry. The social networking standard issue almost reminds me of how I used to cover Web services protocols like the fate of the free world was being decided. On the other side you have the masses: Most of the folks at my wife's high school reunion who joined Facebook in the last six months, the cops I know who suddenly joined the social networking site and the old boys from my former rugby team that have piled on.

Simply put, my world has joined Facebook all at once. I'm not sure who flipped the switch, but the sea change is telling. Facebook is now an everyman app.

Now through that prism let's view Facebook Connect. Is Facebook's move to go in a separate yet similar path than Open Social that significant to the rest of the world? Will Facebook Connect freak out users outside of the tech savvy? Or will Facebook Connect merely be a diversion that won't get much notice?

I'd guess most of those Facebook newbies aren't going to spend a lot of time fretting about or actively managing their social identities. Those items are things you do when you're in front of a screen all day. My hunch: Facebook Connect expands, there's a tech insider ruckus and then it just becomes part of the service. Perhaps there's a Facebook-Open Social (all resources) collision down the road, but for now I just don't see the masses--also known as the millions who don't follow tech sports--getting wound up about it.

Also see: Can Facebook do anything without raising a ruckus?

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration

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6 comments
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  • Would prefer to see OpenSocial develping faster

    A really interesting observation Larry.

    As CEO of a niche social network I have long been hoping for an initiative to make my sites easier to sign up to (since the week in may when Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect were first announced in fact). Our toughest challenge is getting new users to give us 2 minute sto sign up. If they can use an existing ID and bring their social graph with them, out site becomes a lot more accessible.

    OpenSocial has hardly moved on, but I am not sure I care either as Facebook has it all respects since May -- not least of all volumes of users. It has to be the one to have to get the hiher numbers of users coming over.

    That said, I'd rather see this happening in openSocial because of the open nature and the higher level of trust almost anything other than Facebook suggests.

    But then I speak as someone who sits in front of a screen all day. Facebook has done a great job of convincing 120 million users that their details of safe and I doubt they'll start freaking too much when those same details start acting as a key to a whole load of other sites they want to be able to use easily.

    Ian Hendry
    CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ
    http://www.wecando.biz
    ianhendry
  • High Standards of Journalism

    "Reading the conversation this morning on Techmeme familiar storyline emerges." is not grammatically correct. It should read, "a familiar storyline emerges."

    "Facebook's Connect vs. the Open Social alliance between Google, MySpace and a bunch of others." is not a complete sentence.

    These are the first two sentences of the second paragraph. The first paragraph is one sentence long.

    If the article is going to start out like this, why should I bother reading the rest?
    Phil Haney
    • Exactly, and what's more...

      I've bit my tongue for so long now, but can't any longer. This,
      among so many others by the same poster, post violates the most
      fundamental bulwarks of good writing. Is it clear? Does it say what
      it does in an understandable, but fresh and lively, way? Could any
      reader--a ZDnet subscriber or a layman--follow the story? Does it
      digress often, but not for long? Is it organized? Is it (gasp)
      entertaining? Again, can readers--erudite or not--tell what it
      means?

      No, I don't think, on all counts. From an editor's eye: What, pray
      tell, are you talking about? Are you serious, EIC of ZDnet? We--
      we don't!-- don't all live in the jargon-carnival world of your mind.
      Really? We do?
      Sigh.
      Sincerely,
      Former newsfeature writer for 12 newspapers, currently at one of
      the nations top five largest daily newspapers.
      ninexpoundhammer
  • Slow and sloppy FaceBook

    I am not sure of FB's ability to deliver flawless performance and security. I've already experienced great slowdowns of FB and I know that my computer or my modest profile with couple od standard apps, provided by FB (not the third parties), could not be the cause of the standstill.

    I've received the e-mail from FB that they've lost my e-mail notifications settings this morning and suggested me to redo the settings, which I don't intend to.
    nikolas@...
  • My vote goes to OpenSocial

    If someone would ask me to choose, normally I'd choose Microsoft Passport and be confident they'd keep my sign-in data safe. Unfortunately, MS Passport is not even close the open system I would like it to be. As Google Accounts seems to be OK (so far), I could only hope that OpenSocial would be similar in design and security.
    nikolas@...
  • RE: Facebook Connect: The masses and the fishbowl

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