Last Thursday Facebook announced a major step in their growth strategy. It is now possible for others (both companies and Facebook-users) to build so-called applications that can be integrated in your Facebook profile. this is way more than just making widgets possible. Facebook now gives API access to their core functionality, like replacing their well used own photo-functionality with your own.
facebook2.Jpg
Twitter in Facebook
Immediately a wave of applications has become available. Some like Twitter, in cooperation between Facebook and the third party, others like Flickr, are made by some student with a Facebook profile.
I added applications for Last.fm, Flickr, my presence in other YASNs, Twitter, Radar and one for developers. I hope for the quick availability of apps for Plazes, Jaiku and Skype.
I think this step is interesting in a couple of ways. First the degree of openness (where MySpaces clumsy handling of widgets pales in comparison), but also for platforms that position themselves as ‘ open’ such as PeopleAggregator and Ning where you can start your own network, this is good news.
I see this as a sign that openness and the ability to migrate your network across platforms now can become part of the competing elements in the YASN field. If you love somebody, set them free, now stands a change to become true for YASNs a bit more. Keeping your customers by acknowledging they do not want to be imprisoned by your product.
facebook3.Jpg
Flickr and the YASN application
Compare this to the weird strategy Ecademy had, making their free functionality next to useless, and making it impossible to even delete your account.
I think Facebook made a great step, that also brings value to the student communities that made Facebook big. With that the criticism Facebook reaped when opening up to all last September, amongst others from Danah Boyd, that opening Facebook would mean the end is answered too. Also for the ‘ab origine’ community in Facebook new value has been added.
facebook.jpg
Apps you add are also mentioned to your contacts, making quick adoption of apps possible.

Last week at an so-called executive update for a big publishing company I talked about YASNs in the context of communities and networks.

How YASNs are walled gardens.
How they often are positioning themselves as the ‘only’ channel of communication.
No export, no migrating your content, let alone your network, to another platform.

And then I heard myself say it:
They are also separating your real live networks and communities from their digital representation on-line.
That is why it is exciting to see services that allow you to take your digitally represented network with you into the physical world. With tools like Jaiku (and not Twitter!), Plazes and Imity, a bridge is build between your real world interaction and your on-line interaction. Augmenting each other, strengthening each other. They’re mobile clients as well as yasns.

The death of YASNs.
I’ve said it before, but this time I heard new meaning in my own words. The coin dropped so to speak.
So when PeopleAggregator is an answer to the walled gardens, and maintaining too many profiles…will it also start allowing me to take my network with me to the place where it matters: my physical world movements and face to face interactions? Marc? Paolo?

Or will the Plazes’s Jaiku’s and the Imity’s take yasns to the next stage of evolution?

I now wonder when I will be deleting my profiles at LinkedIn, Xing, Tribe or Hyves and such. On the other hand, I still have a profile at Orkut and Ryze…. 😉

Yesterday saw the release of Skype 1.4.0.78
Apart from some bugfixes, extra language support and improving on the API (important!), Skype makes a small step to adding social networking like features to Skype with this 1.4 release.
The profile page will now show how many people are in your contact list. This can have interesting consequences, as Stuart at SkypeJournal also notes. For those of you who are publicly listed this might be something to opt out of, but I use Skype with a closed list of users, and can only be called by people in my list (though I leave the chat function open). These are people that are part of my social network, and I am happy to share my network with them. Otherwise they would not be in my list in the first place. So for those people I might want to disclose not only the number of contacts (which to me means nothing) but who those contacts are.
That to me would be a better way of sharing my network than with for instance LinkedIn. Not in terms of the information that is shared, but because of where that information resides. With LinkedIn OpenBC and all other YASN’s I hand over my information to a third party. What I’d really want is a peer to peer social networking application, as it allows people to control the information at the source (themselves) and share what they like in situations they like. FOAF builds on that, but is only a machine readable format at this stage. Maybe piggybacking on existing peer to peer infrastructure such as Skype is a way to gain traction for a distributed social networking functionality?