Revenge of the mutant Facebook from Mars

[ My response to Robert Scoble on Facebook: ]

It’s whining about privacy settings. Maybe we’re not the new and improved extra-crispy home-style friends in Facebook world that would allow for this?

Sorry for taking two days to get back to you — in a sense, it did prove my point: too much time over the weekend got spent on me writing blog entries. Which, with my flow-of-thought style of writing, did not even get a review (I DID have to puppy-proof our gate this weekend, for example), and because of it came out somewhat incoherent.

To respond to your earlier message: I’ll start. It riffs off of the half-baked earlier post I did:

Facebook as a platform will not work unless it goes platform all the way. It asked me for my GMail password, and then asked to send them the prerequisite, spammy, oh-great-another-dip-I-have-to-ignore type “Come join this network” message. Pros: it allowed me to opt out. Cons: nowhere, no how, did Facebook explain to me what wondrous things would be possible with it knowing my GMail password. Because there ARE oodles of good things it could do with it. Again: if you want to be a silo, be THE silo. Point in question: why didn’t it ask for my Yahoo! password for it to do the exact same thing?

I will reiterate that Microsoft, right now, is in a position to make a killing in this market. They HAVE the desktop. They HAVE all the services required to fulfill all these needs (search, photo sharing, online storage, online maps, the works). They even HAVE the “this has been done before but never this well” product in Windows Home Server. They are in a prime position to be THE silo, but this would involve cross-division coordination, and from what I read online, that is just not going to happen because of it’s (laudable) aversion to Architecture Astronauts. Still, imagine:

– Outlook support for their silo.
– Outlook Express support for their silo.
– Windows Messenger support for their silo.
– MSN Messenger support for their silo.
– Hotmail support for their silo.
– Windows Home Server support for their silo.
– Windows Vista support for their silo.
– On XP, Windows Desktop Search support for their silo.
– Windows Mobile support for their silo.
– XBox Live support for their silo.

The scary part (well, for competitors) is that it would not take all that much to do for each product group. With connectivity going through the roof, Microsoft is on the cusp of unifying social life, and they’re just not doing it. And they’re not going to precisely because of the same strategy that has made them the juggernaut they are: focussing on getting something out the door that is Good Enough And Actually Works(TM). Still, think of the true unification possibilities. XBox Live friends should show up on MSN Messenger and Outlook. Outlook should automatically back up my contact list to the recently rebranded SkyDrive. Vista should split documents into “My illegal music and pr0n” and “My actually important documents” folders, and automagically back the latter up to the local Windows Home Server if available, and have it synchronized with their SkyDrive account one way or the other (the Home Server, if present, can do this all on its own). If properly polished, this is the one thing that can move people from one silo to another. Remember, zero-sum game.

As for Facebook? I hope somewhere, deep inside the bowels of their main development facility, there are at least a few competent developers working on a browser plug-in that truly, unobtrusively and competently harvests a user’s hard drives for any and all information that it can aggregate: contact lists, photos, MP3 play lists, et cetera. Right now, I’m not seeing that. I see selectiveness, and that is exactly the wrong mentality. Remember, Microsoft has made just about a trillion dollars by now pursuing an insanely zealous quest of working with everything (except, perhaps, direct competitors).

Again, I have more to say on this, but this is all I have time for right now. Well, I do have time for one more spammy thing: cross-posting this to my blog. Forgive me.

[ I cannot will not disrespect Robert’s privacy by cross-posting the actual thing I am responding to here: A) If you can’t figure it out, I would rather you not read this blog in the first place and B) I am still positively and spectacularly amazed at the willingness of the Web 2.0 proponents to engage in actual factual discussion (Dare Obesanjo notwithstanding). It is exactly that active effort that is the one and only hope for the current bubble to avoid its progenitor’s fate: the actual realization by those inside the bubble that said bubble might be somewhat different, and somewhat less attractive as a value proposition* than blue chips (although, and rightfully, so, there seems to be an awful lot of readjusting going on on that front). ]

The short and skinny of it is attempting to start a true dialogue, and I think we’re getting there.


* Yes, that is an active knock on marketeers. Really, why would you worry one way or the other anyway? They will be the first ones against the wall when the revolution comes, anyway**.

** If you did not get that quote, please… read your Douglas Adams and get back to me before you say anything. Discussion, great; well-informed disagreement, groovy: clueless ad hominems from the truly dyslexic and spectacularly ill-informed: priceless***.

*** Yes, that is irony.


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