Facebook is the AOL for Web 2.0. For the first generation of the internet in the late ’90s AOL was the “tipping point” for many and their first access with the wonderful world of the internet at a time when the internet was little more than a place for Star Trek geeks and porn freaks. AOL tamed the technology and allowed people to get comfortable with it. It was the internet with training wheels.
Oh and how far have we come? Now, not ten years later, the internet has become a place where I can write this, and you can read it. All that is required is the internet connection for each of us, the time and dedication to write and read and the will or design that this connection should happen. I think its marvelous. But then, it is after all my blog.
Facebook is the new AOL as it allows this access, and is the introduction for many to the wonderful world of the interactive web 2.0 space. It is the tipping point where so many find themselves a little place on the internet to broadcast themselves.
Is the recent deal between Facebook and Microsoft the AOL – Time Warner deal? Sort of, Facebook isn’t worth $15billion no matter what the exchange rate is. I’ve written before that Facebook is unsustainable. Like AOL, Facebook is a stepping off point to greater web 2.0 things. The trick is to figure out how to service the next step.
Ironically, if Facebook is the new AOL then Google is the new Microsoft. While AOL was permitting access to the internet, Microsoft consolidated its foundations as the basis of how people reached the internet by making the Windows desktop, Internet Explorer and to a lesser extent Office the chassis of the experience. Now the chassis is shifting, the desktop and operating system are not as important as the browser and the access it provides. Even if Windows Vista wasn’t such a complete failure, the need to be integrated into the Microsoft experience is not as important anymore. The experience is online, and its only going to get more so as speeds increase and services perfect.
It is important that Facebook is a place on the internet, and a large one. But people get bored of places. Google is supporting and just begun promoting OpenSocial. This is the service for the next step. OpenSocial is a series of APIs, interactive elements like those that allow for the Facebook Apps. Better said, OpenSocial is a platform for sites to interact with one another. It is not a place, but rather a service. The problem with Facebook being a place is that when you leave it, the elements you had there, stay there. So, every place you go you have to make new elements.
So, rather than going to Facebook and being in a world of Facebook apps, as well as you personal online stuff, OpenSocial will allow that stuff and your online world, apps and all to sort of… follow you around.
Right now I have an email addressbook, a work email addressbook, a Facebook friends, Skype contacts, MSN IM contacts, Twitter friends, you oh-so-wonderful-readers-of-this-blog, etc. etc. All scattered about without unity. To get one contact on all those separate networks is a real inconvenience. And most are not. All my networks are fragmented, and those brains that run Google know this.
OpenSocial, like OpenID and Microformats, are hoping to allow the web to plug into one another. The result is a web where I have one or more identities that interact with the internet. My identities and their contacts, bookmarks, preferences, mail, news feeds, hard drive, and apps follow me, regardless of website or computer, around the web, collecting information as it goes and providing refined search options and advertisments as I surf, shop and interact with the online world and marketplace.
What Google understands, and better than anyone else, is how the long term really big money is not the immediate environment. It isn’t the “place” that matters to Google. The big money is in the conduits and infrastructure of information. The geeks in the Googleplex right now are becoming masters of the universe by making information easier and cheaper to transmit and receive, but also monetize. Google is working hard at controlling those lines of communication to twist out fragments of profit for every one of the billions of instances that occur. Genius, and why a Google share runs at $706.