A few days ago I posted about how Facebook is not completely open. Then today Wired made a call for Facebook and other social networks to open up. Their suggestion was for developers to make use of the XHTML Friends Network and build upon it. Wired is only now bringing to light an issue which many of us have been discussing for years. Transportable identity. Wired is correct. Social networks should open up but it isn’t going to happen anytime in the near future as far as I can tell. If Facebook opened up now, wouldn’t they be giving MySpace (their primary competitor) unrestricted access to their users? Social networks have duplicated the same strategy time and time again. Go market the hell out of your site and build up your user base so that you have a marketable group for advertisers.
My own opinion is that the next step is for startpage companies to open up their site so that people have public facing pages that they can control. Additionally, access to that page would be based on whether you are a professional, social or family contact. That’s it! Eventually, one of the big social networks is going to open up and change the social networking landscape forever. For the time being they can enjoy the power that they hold. Who’s going to be the first to open up? I think Facebook will. They have already proven that they are forward thinking and thought leaders within the social networking industry. For now they are going to build up their user base to 100 million over the course of the next year. After that happens, it’s time to open up. For now there is an easy solution to get this started. Bloggers can start using these predefined standards and build a social network among themselves. This will help to encourage others and will also build the foundation for a future loosely connected social network. So how about it? Who’s going to help get this movement going? Pete Cashmore is on board. Let’s get this going!