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.