Is ‘Anything but Facebook’ the Open Web?

I’d just been invited to an event via Facebook, When open web evangelist, Molly Holzschlag tweeted:

Despite having used Facebook to publicise events previously I firmly believe people and organisations shouldn’t solely use it to advertise their events “just because everyone is on there”.

So I immediately responded to Molly:

Disappointingly, Molly confirmed my entry was too short. She did kindly favourite and retweet it. And, because Twitter and WordPress aren’t Facebook, I’m able to share this post and said tweets without first forcing you to login.

Tonight I noted Molly had followed up with the following gem:

It was a tweet which prompted some interesting responses. Many pointed out that “access” can mean many things. And it led to an interesting discussion on the topic.

I’m using her update to bulwark my response to the initial tweet. If I need to have an “account” or “login” to see content on the web, it’s not open. It’s clear some content requires restricted access for privacy and other reasons – but Public Events or status updates you otherwise share to 4 gazillion “friends”? No. They are restricted because Facebook needs to pay for Instagram and get a bajillion dollars in an IPO.

It’s possible that one day Facebook will no longer be the default location on the internet for a substantial percentage of the population. It’s even possible they’ll no longer try to corral everything within their “platform”. But until that day comes, I’ll continue to limit my use of Facebook to an ‘as needed” basis.

And when I invite you to an event, I’ll probably tweet, sms or email you a link to a file on my dropbox.


Looks like Instagram have quickly turned around an upgrade to V2.0.1.

Some nice fixes in there, but no sign of the return of my favourite greyscale filter which was lost in version 2.0.

The sad thing here, for me, isn’t that I was in some way entitled to the filters in a free service, it’s just there was no clear warning to me before I upgraded to Instagram 2.0 that they were going to be removed. And that many of the ones which stayed, although named the same, were going to be so completely different.

Twitter and your smartphone, bringing the cloud to the people

Earlier today I had to write a 2 line, non-technical explanation of “in the cloud” as it applied to a consumer friendly application. Boy was that challenging. You see I think the “cloud” as a term is the same pile of dog turds as terms like “smartphone” and “utilise“.

But you have to market it somehow, don’t you? And “a modern take on client/server environments leveraging web based technology and distributed storage and services” wasn’t going to cut it for my target market.

So just as I discovered while doing the citizenship exam here in Australia recently, sometimes you have to pitch yourself at the lowest common denominator in order to prevent setting yourself up for failure. So I wrote

Facebook is a good example of an in the cloud application

Which brings me to twitter and the “ecosystem” it has created over the years. There have been plenty of “hot new startups” trying to use twitter as some spinal cord for their service. A transport route to create interest in their cloud application. While many turned into abject failures or glorious turkeys, the odd moderate success exists.

I can think of one service above others which I think has gone beyond moderate success and that is Instagram. And yet, like anything which doesn’t want to be cap in hand to a master, it doesn’t depend on it one jot.

Tweetdeck and other services which started out by providing a usable interface to a dumbed down system now struggle to diversify following twitter’s guidance to get off my lawn. Instagram, thanks to a focus on getting it right on the iPhone first, has created an ecosystem of it’s own. The nascency of Instagrid proves this.

I’ve gushed over Applications before despite being hesitant at with many of them. I’ve decided Instagram has cottoned on to two things which help it:

  1. We like to take photos
  2. We like to share

Instagram imagery

    Instagrid now gives you the opportunity to share all of those photos in one place on the web, somewhere instagram had to date left alone. Have a look yourself.

    Other things people like to do as well as take pictures is to Read and to listen to music.

    I’ve been a user of to store my musical taste for many years now, but it’s sharing features suck and the kowtowing to “rights owners” appears to have killed any “official” app on my iPhone in Australia.

    So step in I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and love what it does. Sure it’s got some rough edges, but I’m pretty sure the developer knows what he is doing to take it to places which Apple and CBS Interactive would likely workshop out of existance.

    I wouldn’t call it “successful” like I would call Instagram, but fingers crossed it gets there.

    Final shout out to Goodreads, which despite having an iPhone App designed by committee, is going some way to getting me interested in reading books again.

    We use these in the cloud applications each day, many of which use twitter to do what twitter is intended to do, share stuff with your friends and others and help people talk. I suggest Twitter, rather than writing confronting pieces, should focus on better promoting those services which use their API’s the “right” way.

    What Twitter based Applications do you use which make you go back daily?