Get it All

I am still having a hard time wrapping my brain around it, but FaceBook is making the announcement all over application pages that soon, FB applications will no longer be able to send you notifications through FB. You’ll have to give them your email address instead.


The thing about FaceBook which I’ve been most enamored of has always been that it is an entirely separate form of communication from email. I’ve loved the fact that I’m able to keep up with friends and family, companies whose products I buy, shows I watch and political activists with whom I share values…. without tons of email clogging my inbox which I might never read. We all know that email drill: you check the box that says “yes, I’d like to receive email about exciting new offers…” and within a month, you’re deleting those emails as fast as they come in.

But on FaceBook, I’ve happily added all kinds of strange companies to my list of things I’m a “fan” of. And added tons of applications just because I thought they might be fun. After all, they don’t have my email address and I can always ignore the updates and whatnot that come through FB. If they decide, as they appear to have already done, that they cannot any longer deal with the security and privacy issues that they themselves created, FaceBook stops really being the go-to form of communication in a heartbeat. Once FaceBook becomes – not a separate and exciting new form of communication, but a new avenue for all that spam you hated in the first place – well, I don’t predict a very bright 2010 for them at all.

So, here’s what I’m thinking: developers, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll be boning up on the Google Wave API with a quickness. If you don’t yet have an account (holy crap! Seriously?), get one. Beg a friend. Start communicating quick before you get lost in the stampede which I suspect will be coming along about mid-way through this year.

But all this points to what I’ve said in the past is the real issue with FaceBook: what FB represents is an entirely new form of communication that works. It is a new streaming communications vehicle which has been adopted far more easily and readily than email was ten years ago – some people still can’t figure out email but they’ve got a FaceBook account. The trouble is that it is proprietary. It cannot stretch beyond itself, nor can anyone improve upon the system because it is stuck within the bounds of a narrow set of developers who now seem to have run their course in the way of creative solutions.

This should be a call to action for the W3C or some other working group. Now is the time for an open standard which solves the proprietary problems of FaceBook. Something on which clients can be built and improvements made without having to be restricted by a single company.

If you’re like me, you’ve got tons of social networking sites to keep track of. Personally, I think I was born without the self-control that prevents me from signing up with the next, latest-and-greatest social network just to see what it does. Keeping track of all that mess – and keeping it updated – is almost a full time job by itself.

And yet I’m committed to using social networking sites as a means to establish my authority on the web. I’ve been actively working to get the maximum bang for my buck with social networking, spreading my posts as far and as wide as I can manage. On the web design side, I have accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Delicious, Mashable and On the political side, I have accounts on FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, YouAre, Flickr, Delicious and Tumblr. That’s in addition to one website for each side of my online identity.

To manage all these accounts, I’m using a social middleware service called taps into the APIs of all these services – and loads more that I don’t personally use – to update my status whenever I update it on It also allows me to set specific hashtags to trigger only a specific subset of my registered services. I have a Google Gadget on my Google home page to update from any convenient location. On top of that, I have a plugin for WordPress, on which my site is built, that will update every time I post a new article.

This system is working well for me so far, but I’m finding that new middleware services are opening up all the time. Just today, I discovered Posterous via an article on Mashable. This interesting service allows you to create your own subdomain on their site and post simply by sending an email to or This posting allows you to upload video, pictures and audio and have them automatically show up on the site. Then, you can also update all kinds of other social networking services as you go.

The other interesting advantage is that this service allows you to potentially create an entirely new ad-hock social network by allowing others to post to your Posterous. You can create as many Posterous sites as you like, those sites can update whatever other services you would like. The possibility is that people can create entire online communities that stretch over several services and for which they own no Internet real-estate.

There is another service for which I signed up, but which I have not had the pleasure of trying out, This service seems to provide much of the same type of service as the other two. When I get more into that, I’ll report back.

But now, I’ve got a new problem, rather a lot like the first one: I have so many middleware sites that it’s just as confusing to use as the update services I was trying to organize! Sheesh, the cutting edge is complicated…..