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A Triptych of Facebook Links

First up: ReadWriteWeb calls out Facebook’s Twitter envy. I’m with them… Why does Facebook want to be Twitter? There is already Twitter. Twitter has a totally different core competency than Facebook. Why is Facebook trying to change their own core competency to compete with something that has such an unproven revenue model?

On the other hand, competing with Twitter has forced Facebook to open up it’s Stream with an API. Now, can I start liking my friends posts in the iPhone app? Okay, I know, really this move was made so that 3rd parties can develop (or add onto) their own apps to help Facebook be as cool as Twitter is with their API.

But beyond the arms race with Twitter, the stream API will open up the possibility for many new applications both within Facebook and outside its walls. An obvious one would be better filtering options for your activity stream. It would be simple to create an app that shows you the most liked or most commented on items in your stream, for example. Or now that stream can be plugged into various social search engines to give you socialized real-time results. Hell, if I could just search my own activity stream, I’d consider that a giant leap forward. But Facebook still only allows developers to cache data for 24 hours, so you wouldn’t be able to build a very powerful search engine or return results from more than a day ago.

Facebook has also become not just an OpenID provider (issuing party), but also a relying party. I believe they’re the first big site out there to do that. I’m not sure why all the others haven’t, because honestly, it’s kind of annoying to have 20 different sites that provide OpenIDs but if no one accepts anyone elses OpenID then it’s pretty much useless.

I’m glad that Facebook is opening up, but here’s a couple more things they can do to compete with Twitter (and/or make me happy):

  • Allow tagging of friends in status updates
  • Allow users to view a feed with ALL updates from ALL friends
  • Try to make more content viewable on a single screen of the iPhone app
  • Start rolling out vanity URLs to users in order of when they joined Facebook

Dare Obasanjo’s look at OpenID

As a bit of a follow-on to my last post, Dare provides his take (and some blockquotes from others) on OpenID here. Because of the picture I used in my post, I find his last sentence incredibly rewarding:

Only time will tell if by the time all is said and done, it won’t seem like we’ve been trying to shove a square peg in a round hole all these years.

As he mentions, OpenID was originally intended for people to put in a URL as their identifier, and honestly, I’m surprised that no one thought that maybe it would be nice to have a way to let people use their email address. If you are claiming to own a URL through OpenID verification, shouldn’t you also be able to claim ownership of an email address? Especially since a lot more people have email addresses than URLs (at least, that they know of).

In a link from Dare to the Google Code Blog, another of my unspoken (or hinted at) questions is answered:

One other question that a lot of people asked yesterday is when a large provider like Google will become a relying party. There is one big problem that stands in the way of doing that, but fortunately it is more of a technology problem than a usability issue. That problem is that rich-client apps (desktop apps and mobile apps) are hard-coded to ask a user for their username and password. As an example, all Google rich-client apps would break if we supported federated login for our consumer users, and in fact they do break for the large number of our enterprise E-mail outsourcing customers who run their own identity provider, and for which Google is a relying party today. This problem with rich-client apps also affects other sites like Plaxo who are already relying parties.

As someone simply reading the above paragraph, this seems like a fairly small problem of altering the backend to accept a URL as a username with a blank password and going to the OpenID verification from there. But as someone who writes code for a living, I know that just making a first decision about how to go forward with trying to fix this issue can be almost paralyzing.

OpenIDs for everyone! Now… where to use it?

So, I’ve got a Yahoo OpenID, a Google OpenId, a WordPress OpenID, soon a MySpace OpenID, and apparently the only place I can use them is Plaxo. Sweet.