Facebook has become to the social web what Microsoft is to the desktop: mindbogglingly gargantuan, relentlessly mediocre, and almost inescapable. Like Microsoft twenty years ago, they will succeed because a bad standard is better than none: and like Microsoft ten years ago, they “innovate” by clumsily copying—and then trying to squash—the real innovators.
writes Jon Evans in the linked article on TechCrunch.
I find Facebook infinitely more dangerous: Microsoft established itself among a number of proprietary, closed and obscure desktop platforms. Facebook, on the other hand, threatens to engulf and absorb the Web, probably the most open, most amazing development in computing, ever. The path to openness is hard — we need standards, modelling of semantics and relationships, but above all good implementations making use thereof. Facebook provides an easy, ‘closed’ alternative, as does twitter and a number of other services building upon their proprietary protocols and interfaces. That’s why FOAF and OpenSocial are nowhere to be found and everyone (including us) uses Facebook widgets. Again the age-old saying: “ideas are cheap, implementations cost” rings true, and Facebook have a more popular implementation, like Microsoft did back in its heyday.