Last week, Danah Boyd of the Berkman Center blogged about her confusion with the fascination with Facebook. Danah questions the reliance by companies on a platform they have no control over and the risks to which that dependency can expose them.
… I don’t understand … why so much of the tech crowd who lament Walled Gardens worship Facebook. What am I missing here?
Robin Chase, CEO of GoLoCo, presented at last night’s Web Innovators’ Group event. During her demo, Robin got flustered to the point that I thought she was going to throw a laptop out the window of the Royal Sonesta into the Charles River.
GoLoCo started (as I understand it) as a web site. The company enables people to share rides. When the Facebook API came around, GoLoCo made a bold commitment to leave the WWW and instead leverage all the great benefits of an existing, big, structured social network to build its service out. Check out the GoLoCo Facebook app.
Unfortunately, like all ‘platforms’, Facebook has bugs, bumps, and challenges for its developers. To exacerbate the problem, Facebook isn’t an established organization like Microsoft, which probably has on the order of 10,000 employees dedicated to infrastructure development and support. Nor are the Facebook API and infrastructure open-sourced so that messy issues can be sorted out by the community or the application developer themselves.
The media and many entrepreneurs (yours truly included) have had something of a love-fest these last few months about what the Facebook API enables. As time progresses, more complicated applications will push the limits of the Facebook platform. I’m bullish on Facebook and I hope they can support their developers optimally.
UPDATE: Interesting blog post on this topic from a musician who has been through some related troubles.