Thursday, November 22, 2007

Facebook Vs. OpenSocial - Reminds Me of Browser Wars

Google is doing their best to create an API that everyone can use to develop social applications for any container. Facebook is doing their best to create an API that developers can use to quickly produce applications on their container. Should Facebook jump on the OpenSocial band wagon? It's too early for me to cast my vote.

I have been developing an application for the Facebook container and I'm impressed with their API so far. It's easy to use, pretty intuitive, and has a lot of functionality. But my app is pretty simple. What happens when an application gets really complex, involves lots of developers and updates? Coding for Facebook, MySpace, Google, Bebo, Orkut and Hi5 could start to get messy.

The idea behind OpenSocial is to code to one API and release your application to many containers. That way the focus goes toward developing killer apps and not managing social containers. The more I think about it, the better it sounds.

HUGONGO is a multi-dimensional social application that draws on several different levels of relationships but relies on the critical mass of a large social network. If there was a way to tap into all the containers, while still allowing each user to stay within their preferred social network, it might make an even better solution. Still too early to tell, but I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

LinkedIn, Facebook, Orkut, MySpace - Duplicating Friend Requests.

When is someone going to create an application that will allow me to manage my friends network from one place and share it across all social networking platforms?

I really enjoy playing with Facebook and I've been connecting on LinkedIn for a couple years, but now I have to ask some of my same connections to become friends all over again. Seems pretty Web 1.0 to me.

I know the value for these social networking platforms is in their users, but I can't be the only one who is getting tired of having to go through the same process of identifying friends and building networks over and over again.

Who is going to step up and solve this problem for us? One network of friends, shared over any social platform you want. Is it possible? Could OpenSocial be a step in the right direction?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Biggest - Another Facebook App

I started the process of designing and coding a Facebook app last week and I'm pretty happy at the results so far. The application I'm building is called "Biggest" and it's a boasting machine. Stake your claims, share them with your friends and hope they don't challenge you to prove it. You might have to show evidence or have another friend vouch for you.

The reason I'm building Biggest is to learn more about the Facebook platform and see how it will work for HUGONGO, our social travel guide product. If it turns out to be a good resource I'm sure we will develop an app for HUGONGO that will allow friends to create and share travel guides and maps.

I'm using Ruby on Rails, hosted at Joyent with mySql. The most useful resource I've found so far is on Liverail.com and looking at other apps has been really helpful, especially for UI ideas. Oh, and the book Getting Real, by 37 Signals, is awesome.

Hope that helps with your project.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Facebook is winning me over

OK, my last post was about consumer fear. I heard about the new Facebook advertising platform and I was afraid they were selling out.

In order to pacify my fears I decided to set up my own company "Page" for HUGONGO, and check it out from the advertisers perspective... Facebook is winning me over.

Every business should have their own Facebook "Page" and should do everything they can to start connecting with their customers. This is a valuable way to stay intimately connected with your users that not only builds your brand but gives you access to the most important feedback system available. Plus, once you have a Facebook Page you can create advertising campaigns that help your company by helping your customer.

For example, if you are a chiropractor your most valuable advertising is a customer testimonial. Facebook makes it possible for you to become another touch point in that social network. Ask your customers to add your company to their network and help them share their experiences with you to their friends.

I'm still having concerns about privacy and consumer backlash, but the more I explore the platform the more potential I see for a new kind of advertising system.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Facebook getting in bed with Big Brother?

I don't know about you, but if Facebook starts giving advertisers my personal information so they can get my friends to buy more stuff... I'm out of there.

Facebook is doing a good job of keeping the social network clean, providing tools to developers to help enrich the social experience, and giving users a lot of power over their personal content. But it is starting to sound like Big Brother is guiding them down the wrong path:

"Yesterday, in a twist on word-of-mouth marketing, Facebook began selling ads that display people’s profile photos next to commercial messages that are shown to their friends about items they purchased or registered an opinion about." - New York Times Article

It's not just a question of privacy, it's a question of ethics. Facebook could quickly destroy their momentum if the Facebook brand is marginalized in this way. I joined Facebook because of their dedication to privacy and their professional approach to social networks. I'll be the first to jump ship if they let advertisers have access to my private data in order to influence my friends.