It’s too late for Dave Winer and John Battelle to save the common web

The halls of CERN where the Web was invented

The date was January 3, 2008. Facebook had kicked me off for running a script to try to save the common web.

See, I worked with Plaxo to run a simple script. One that would have taken my contacts out of Facebook and put them back into the common web. The script did some very simple things:

1. It grabbed all my friends names.
2. It grabbed all their phone numbers.
3. It grabbed all their email addresses.
4. It gave me a simple CSV file with all that data so I could bring them back to Google, or Microsoft, or anywhere else I wanted to put them.

Facebook’s answer was predictable. They shut me down.

Oh, a few people supported me. Joseph Smarr, for one. Marc Canter, for two. It isn’t lost on me that Joseph now works on the Google+ team and Marc isn’t in the San Francisco area anymore.

They understood what was at stake: the future of the web.

But many others said I deserved to be kicked off of Facebook.

Did I get invited to speak at John Battelle’s conferences about how the common web was screwed? No.

Did Dave Winer lead a SOPA-like protest? No.

Mike Arrington and I had violent disagreements on the Gillmor Gang about my motives.

Heck, these arguments continue to this day. Yesterday Steve Gillmor, again, on yesterday’s Gillmor Gang, said I had broken Facebook’s Terms of Service, which implied that I deserved to get kicked off. I had, but I was trying to save the common web.

The message was loud and clear: Facebook should be allowed to be a data roach motel: data can come in, but damn you Scoble if you want to take that data back out.

The lesson today, four years later, is that the common web is in grave threat, not just from Facebook’s data roach motel but from Apple’s and Amazon’s and, now, Google.

It isn’t lost on me that Joseph Smarr now works at Google and that some of the others who spoke up on my behalf now work at Facebook.

Today their arguments are hitting my ears. Only four years too late. Here, look at their arguments:

Dave Winer says: “Having Google break the contract is not just bad for Google, it’s bad for the web.”

John Battelle says: “The web as we know it is rather like our polar ice caps: under severe, long-term attack by forces of our own creation.”

Now do you get why I really don’t care anymore? The time for a major fight was four years ago.

I understood then what was at stake.

Today? It’s too late. My wife is a great example of why: she’s addicted to Facebook and Zynga and her iPhone apps.

It’s too late to save the common web. It’s why, for the past year, I’ve given up and have put most of my blogging into Google+. I should have been spending that effort on the web commons and on RSS but it’s too late.

Normal users don’t care about the argument anymore and they are addicted to Facebook and Google+ and Twitter and apps on iPhones and Android. Heck, if you are at the Super Bowl tomorrow the official app is on iOS and Android and not other platforms.

The common web isn’t just under attack, it’s been under attack for more than four years.

Why did it take so long for people to wake up?

Me? I really don’t care anymore. I’m locked into Vic Gundotra’s trunk where Google+ has helped me get 400,000 followers since July 1st last year alone. That’s, what, seven months? Did RSS ever do that for me? Did Dave Winer’s systems ever do that for me? Did John Battelle ever put me on stage to help me out? No way.

It’s too late.

I’m not going back to the open web. Why? The juice isn’t there.

So, what would I do now? What’s Dave Winer’s answer? He deleted his Facebook account and is working hard to try to get people to adopt RSS again. Sorry, Dave, but Twitter is a better place to get tech news. Not to mention that the best place to read that list is Flipboard on iOS.

Sorry, will RSS help me get new access to Google’s search engine? No.

Will RSS help me get access to Facebook’s Open Graph, which let Spotify share five billion songs in the first few months of its existence? No.

Will RSS help me get access to your Facebook news feed? No.

Will RSS help me get a better Klout score? No.

Will RSS help me get a speaking slot at O’Reilly’s conferences? No.

Will RSS help me talk with my wife, and her friends, who are all addicted to Facebook? No.

Will RSS let me get my photos onto Instagram? No.

Will RSS help me get my food consumption behaviors onto Foodspotting? No.

So, cry me a river. I’m a user. I tried to stick up for the common web in 2008. Where was the protest then? I was called an “edge case” and someone who should be ignored.

Sorry, Dave and John. It’s too late to put the genie back into the bottle.

See you on Google+.

And next time someone tries to point out that the “data black holes” of these big companies are something that should be fought against maybe you’ll be there with a better protest than what you put up.

It’s too late. Now, excuse me, while I crawl back into the trunk that Google, Facebook, Amazon have locked me in.

It’s interesting to go back and read those comments. Chris Saad is one that has been very consistent for four years. He built a company, Echo, which is still trying to keep our content separate from these big “data black holes.” If anyone deserves credit for trying to keep the web commons alive, it’s him.

What’s the right way to protest TODAY?

1. Don’t delete your Facebook account. Deleting your account just makes you look like a weirdo in today’s world. Dave Winer has that luxury, but most of us don’t.
2. Make ALL data on your Facebook account PUBLIC. Most technologists have done the opposite. To the point where if you aren’t friends with most geeks you can’t even see ANYTHING on their account. That isn’t helping the commons.
3. Work to figure out how to get our data OUT of Facebook, Google+, and Amazon and back into the commons.

Me? I’m just a user and I grew tired of this fight back in 2008. That was the year we could have done something about it. Today? No, sorry, most of this argument doesn’t make any sense to real users. My wife doesn’t care and, even, doesn’t like being in the open web for a whole lot of reasons.

Today? No, don’t put me on stage at conferences. Get regular people, like my wife, who could tell you why they don’t like the open web and, why, even, they are scared of it.

But, no, it makes for beter headlines to try to fight.

John, where were you? At least Dave has been consistently trying to keep us putting content on blogs and on RSS, which ARE the open common web. It’s just that it’s too late. We’re firmly locked back in the trunk and the day for blowing open the trunk has come and gone. Now, excuse me while I check into Foursquare, message my friends about the parties at SXSW on Facebook, find a cool meal to have tonight with my wife on Foodspotting, and go back to posting on Google+.

PHOTO CREDIT: I shot this photo of the hallways of CERN, which is where the web was invented.

UPDATE: already there are more comments on Google+ than are here. On Facebook there’s quite a bit of reaction too. Sort of underscores my point, no?


88 thoughts on “It’s too late for Dave Winer and John Battelle to save the common web

  1. When nobody values the URL the URL will no longer have any value. Oddly Google is helping bring this about with everything being dispatched through G+. So the web may die, but the internet will still live.


    1. Today? I’ve given up and am living mostly inside the data black holes. In 2008? I saw that Facebook was sucking data in but not letting it escape. That was the right time to fight before it really got the mainstream addicted. Today? It’s too late.


      1. Maybe it wasn’t all for naught since we can down export all of our data¬†since the moment¬†we created an account from¬†facebook.¬† Is it too little, too late?


  2. Amen. The war was lost because they did not wanted to make it easy and left it at that – they did not evolve.

    I still care about getting my feeds into the places where I want to read the stuff and care about having the content come in a way I can digest them. But as you describe, it’s done – and the culprit are the normal people.

    Because they never cared about Atom or RSS, they just wanted to have the news without going through 300 places and things and inconsistencies – oh look a shiny thing which makes it easy enough to do what i want.

    Nerds and Geeks wanted the complicated stuff – normal people wanted to start to understand how to use it. Up until today, I stay by the point that normal people still don’t know how to operate a computer – one of the reasons *nix never took over windows, let alone Apple.

    Look at what the women are doing over at pinterst. The amount of ‘blog posting’ they are doing. only a few of them, after some time will evolve to ‘real’ blogging and even then they are not interested in providing feeds to each other, they just want to share the pretty pictures they saw on there. The pinterest bookmarklet does it and then they can heart it from their facebook app, their instagram, their¬† other apps. Their want to login with their fb account, maybe with twitter – and not sign up for a user name.

    They made it complicated and refused to make it easier because ‘everybody understands this!!’ – and the rest has decided that there is an easier way. As you correctly described: They don’t care about all the other stuff because they are not invested into this. Not one bit.

    When I work with clients today, I do some stuff in the background, set it up properly, like we are supposed to do – but I don’t even bother explaining it to them why I do certain stuff, because they would not understand why.

    The bad part about it? Let me come back to pinterest. The one big thing pinterest does out of the box is an easy way to subscribe to a person in all the categories I want. Keyword: Easy. Not subscribing / unsubscribing special feeds or something but simple “subscribe a board / subscribe all” with all meaning “if there are new boards, you are automatically subscribed”

    Now I can post my quotes and things from my obsession with stationary and organizing knowing that people can easily unsubscribe from that. It will be highly intersting to see how many people at sxsw will talk about their boards there but never consider to go ‘proper blogging’ …


      1. Although I haven’t given up, I share this concern: a lot of the open web stuff was based on ideology, not user experience. At the end of the day, most of us are building software to empower ordinary people. Simple is powerful, and ideologically-driven software tends to eschew that principle, whether it’s open web, or open source, or free software, or whatever.

        However. That’s not to say that the principle is dead. There are certainly people who still believe in it, and for the right reasons – that it will be more empowering for users in the long run. User experience is key; so is finding a business model that provides a financial incentive to do so.

        For example, I believe that open web software is actually better for enterprise use, because it provides better data privacy and flexibility for companies. Whereas the Facebooks and Google+s of the world may be sewn up, that world is still wide open, and there are plenty of non-ideological reasons why these approaches could flourish there.


      1. being principled works; always works. it works because sticking by your principles is the end, not the means. the _results_ of sticking by your principles is a by-product, not a goal.

        i see your point, tho. when your goal is to gain “eyeballs” you end up “going where the eyeballs are.” that makes sense.

        of course, gaining eyeballs isn’t a principle.¬†

        it turns out, you usually have to weigh your principles against your goals. sometimes you pick one, sometimes the other. it’s pretty rare you get both to align.


      2. 400,000 is media mice nuts, decimal dust. You’ll continue to do what you have to do to keep the family fed and the lifestyle styling, but sometimes you seem to be missing the big picture, Robert. I appreciate your hard work and often enjoy a fresh perspective you happen to share, but I think your grand declarations sometimes tend to cut off conversation more than stimulate it.


      3. I completely get it. One can only stand alone with his principles for so long until it just doesn’t matter anymore. It’s not that you no longer have principles, but the time and energy it takes to fight the fight is better spent somewhere else.

        In the end, Robert, my hunch is, it won’t even matter. All of the information is all ready out there. People try to fight against it and nothing is going to bring it back.

        This isn’t just social media, it’s our society. We are all comprised of social profiles, much like in the 50’s men were defined by their career with xyz corporation and women were defined by their house, clothes and kids. To tweak a phrase, “No one on their deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I would have spent more time on retrieving all that now-useless data from the big dogs.'”

        Go towards what you DO have control and influence over — and it appears, Mr. Scoble, that you have many areas ove which you do. ūüôā


      4. There’s a difference between being principled and dogmatic; you seem “get it”. Great post!


  3. An issue with your Facebook scraping was/is that it arguably wasn’t your content in the first place.¬† Do you own my address/phone #, or do I, esp if I’m the one who provided it and you just accessed via FB (where I put it to be accessible only to those I chose, not all your friends)?¬† I don’t disagree that the private webs are winning out, which is somewhat sad, but I don’t think you should have been able to scrape that content.


      1.  Which is why I like the way gmail contacts / profiles work. I can
        finally set up the information in circles and decide which information
        to share with whom. This btw is the major reason most Germans stay on
        Xing and only have 2nd profiles on Linkedin: I have all the data my
        contacts allow me to see from birthday, to address, to phone number with
        lock down per contact per field.

        I have not seen the date in my mobile devices from the g+ profiles but I
        am waiting for that to happen very soon. As Jack Harkness says: the
        21st century is when everything changes. And 201x is when we do see the
        changes coming – and it will be big. Not all of that good, but big. ‘Who
        owns my contact information” is the wrong question. The new question
        is: “when everybody has my contact information, how can I make sure that
        I only have people get through who I want to get through” …


      2. Really? If I gave someone my business card with the express intention they used it a certain way (like you do when putting data into Facebook), then I’d be pretty pissed off if that someone took it and gave it to a service I didn’t give them permission for. I’d say that’s (not particularly bad, but still) betrayal of trust.


  4. Proponents of the ‘open web’ like myself have often envisioned a world of interoperable niche services rather than one large monolithic Facebook.¬†As sad as it is for me to admit, an open, interoperable web is something users will need to drive, not idealistic engineers. Proprietary is faster and less expensive and today lends well to a more pleasant user experience. All of which users appreciate.

    While I certainly haven’t given up on the vision of open web standards and interoperability, I know now that their adoption in a way that’s at all like what many of us hoped for is something that will have to take place over a much longer period of time and cannot be force fed.


  5. You might want to read the IPO filing reports of Facebook as well as the anual report from Google. They have no intention nor would it make sense for them to ‘limit the free services’ because those ‘free’ services provide the basics for their successful earnings each year.


  6. This article is right on point!¬† And nicolesimon added some of my thoughts exactly.¬† Especially about not even telling clients why I do certain things.¬† It’s not just because they wouldn’t understand, although they wouldn’t lol, but because so many of them just don’t care.¬†

    They want simple, period.¬† If the explosion of smart phones and tablet’s have taught us one thing, it’s that if you can make it simple enough even if it doesn’t quite do what you really want it to do, the masses are ok with that.


    1. They want the “do what i want” button.

      At least when i worked in corporate my colleagues knew that I was their magic “can do what I need and make it so it works” but they had to bribe me. *That* they understood immediately. My tries to teach them how to do it themselves the next time? Na. They rather learned to stock up on the bribing material. As Robert says: there is a time when you have to understand that the fight is over. ūüėČ


  7. AOL was a threat to the Internet, too — the first major walled garden. And we all know how that turned out. Facebook, Google+, Twitter — these are trends that will pass in time. Things will go private, public, private, public… again and again. The key is to pick your tools so they handle what it is you’re trying to do with a mix of trade-offs that you find acceptable. That’s it.

    Google has been dominant in search for 10+ years, but it won’t always be so. Their recent mis-steps are a replay of Microsoft’s mistakes. They’re stumbling. They’re getting disrupted. That’s life. What they’re doing now with Google+ and modifications to search and Android are attempts to fend off the disruptors, or what you would call the closed web purveyors. They’re just trying to create a “better” closed web — one that they control. Might work for a while. But not forever.

    The feather in Dave Winer’s cap is that he’s promoting infrastructure rather than platform solutions. RSS can’t solve all problems, but at least it’s just a protocol, and an open one at that. Your photo of CERN points to the birth of the open web. But it was open precisely because it wasn’t built for a product or a company — it was a collection of protocols. (Coincidentally that’s why Android isn’t open — it wasn’t created to be a protocol, but an advertising delivery platform.)

    If you want to promote the open web, stop chasing the major for-profit corporations and start digging into the nerdy work done by the IEEE and other researchers and neckbeards — the people that will actually create the next open protocols and interfaces that will make a real difference.


    1. +1 John. ¬†Personally i’m very pleased with the future of the Open Web. ¬†HTML has won (HTML5-CSS3-JSON-JavaScript-Canvas/SVG). ¬†Open Standards for browsers and servers continue to dominate platform wars. ¬†I there’s a threat to the Open Web, it’s the Federal Government. ¬†

      Microsoft won the PC wars because they owned the point of boot up.  From there they owned the end-users interface into information systems.  They owned the protocols, interfaces and formats binding both applications and end-users to the Windows platform.  The Open Web ended the tyranny of a Microsoft owned boot up.

      So where are the threats today? ¬†For sure a Federal government having trampled and shredded the Constitution, answering only to crony corporatists, banksters and big money special interest, is a threat. ¬†Maybe next i would worry about Apple. ¬†They are taking a good shot at controlling boot up. ¬†If a consortia of ISP’s get control of Federal policy, and are able to cold cock new technology initiatives and opportunities, that would hurt. ¬†

      But there’s nothing about Facebook that approaches the lower level access-to-the-Web threats. ¬†I can see Robert’s point that FB controls his networking and broadcast of information on their platform. But where’s the barrier stopping him from going someplace else? ¬†So what if they lock up his content and connections. ¬†He’s an information machine. ¬†Does anyone doubt he won’t continue to rain it down on the rest of us?

      IMHO, the browser wars were critical.  And the Open Web has won.  OSS, Mozilla, Apache and Netscape are beyond heroic.  So much so that i would even go so far as to forgive Marc Andreessen for his near killing the future of the Open Web when he dissed those pleading for Mosaic support of CSS.  Close call, but the Open Web recovered and today we have an emerging HTML format that is every bit the interactive media rich compound document model needed to fuel advanced information system.

      Other close calls include Skype, Flash, Silverlight, Internet Explorer, and .NET-ActiveX platform specific crap.  The XML format wars were a close call because they threatened to extend the dominance of platform specific business systems to the Web.  HTML won there too, by simply refusing to disappear.  

      And let’s not forget the Perfect Storm of 2008. ¬†The financial collapse of course served to focus anyone interested in survival on cutting cost. ¬†And since the cost of labor was the largest and most uncertain “cost”, doing more with less meant automated information and productivity systems requiring fewer people. ¬†What an incredible change agent survival is. ¬†And a boon to emerging, but long shot technology and system providers capable of stepping into the breach.

      Of course, other aspects of the Perfect Storm had to be there too. ¬†Like the iPhone, mass wifi – 3G, Cloud Computing (thanks Amazon), and of all things, ISO approval of “Tagged PDF” as an international open standard. ¬†The race towards office automation was on like never before, and the paperless transaction not only in reach, but this time for real.

      I had a funny experience awhile ago.  An experience that convinced me FB is not a threat to the Open Web.  My task at the time was designing a service for a Chinese software company seeking to enter the USA РEU markets.  This led to a product manager position, and i needed to find a way to fully communicate and work with the engineer staff in Beijing.  Turns out Microsoft Live was one of the few collaborative sync-share-store systems allowed through the Great Wall.  And so the adventure began.

      What a mess!  It was clear from the git go that MS was far more interested in becoming the next Facebook than it was in taking out DropBox.  They also were intent on knocking out gMail; relentless to the point of being unusable.  Every time i tried to do something, anything, i would run into an MS Live barrier where they tried to force me into MS specific channels.  Like everyone i communicate and connect to having to be registered at and have a hotmail/live eMail account.  

      Worse, MS totally screwed the pooch on MSOffice sync-share-store with  I can laugh about it now, but when your posting volumes of documents with comments, conversations and visual resources, and one shared document suddenly becomes 25 different versions of that document, the door out of that mess looks really good.  

      The thing is, if you don’t get the basics of sync-share-store right, you’re not likely to be a Cloud Productivity Platform contender, where the intricacies of how applications communicate, connect, share and bind data and media streams into a new Web-ready version of the compound document model. ¬†

      For Microsoft this is critical stuff. ¬†They still dominate the entire ecosystem of desktop-client/server business productivity systems. ¬†Perhaps the greatest transition they’ve ever faced is at hand as those legacy desktop/workgroup bound systems move to the Cloud. ¬†Yet, here they are trying to be Facebook?

      Flip that observation over, and you see that Facebook is not a contender either. ¬†I’m not saying that social networking is bad. ¬†I’m just pointing out that the world of information is much bigger than Facebook. ¬†And Facebook is not designed to go much further than the space they’ve carved out. ¬†

      At the end of the day, i know without doubt, the Open Web has won. ¬†The Internet is no longer the “network of networks”. ¬†Thanks to the Open Web, it’s the ultimate, and yes universal, platform of platforms. ¬†And, it’s the only platform where communications, content and collaborative computing merge into one. ¬†An integration that the boot up kings could never do.



      1. In some respects I’m very optimistic about the “open Net” these days. We have IE’s market share continuing to slide, IE6 finally just about gone to the backup tape in the ground, Flash being scraped back off our mobile platforms (iOS always free from that particular infestation, Android getting shot of it soon), serious “web” applications escaping onto the desktop itself with Windows 8, RIM’s proprietary mail protocol being slaughtered in the market by open standard IMAP…

        Yes, Facebook etc can be dead ends for data in a sense: you can’t transfer your “Facebook friendships” straight over to G+ or LinkedIn relationships, for example – but a lot of actual relationships do indeed carry over. Quite a few of my Facebook friends follow me on Twitter and have connected to me on LinkedIn; once upon a time we used to interact through FriendsReunited, too. Import/export is the wrong question, I think: what matters is if Facebook disappeared tomorrow, how easily could we move if we wanted/needed to? It’s actually easier than it sounds: a whole circle of friends upped and moved from Slashdot to Multiply quite smoothly, without any need to export anything.


  8. I am new to the whole seen, or should I say hole scene (pun intended) but in many ways I am not. I feel your frustrations though Robert. You are successful though, and have created some wealth and success for yourself in this game of tech. Many have not been able to do that. I commented on Google Plus before reading this and am going to curate your piece here onto Internet Billboards. As the CEO and founder of this little known company I am looking a head to the future. I see something on the horizon for the open web, and it’s called collective intelligence. It is something that Google is gravitating towards, but it is under the guise of social. The thing is why should the commoners care? All their friends are on Facebook and now I see Google Plus as a place I can go to have an intelligent conversation. How many of those are taking place on Facebook? Facebook is like the cocktail party where everyone wants to hang out and be cool. The real business get’s done in the real world. In the boardroom. ¬†


  9. Hey Robert. It’s not about saving what was. It’s about the principles. The values. Longer post to come, appreciate your continuing the dialog and honestly, have it whereever ya want. It’s about choice, no?! Just not interested in having that taken from me.¬†


  10. This isn‚Äôt just an Internet problem. It‚Äôs a general societal problem.¬†Sacrificing rights for conveniences while ignoring the consequences is the American Way. Just look at all of the people who continue to use Bank of America and BP despite the unforgivable greed, carelessness, and contempt of these companies. Nobody cares about integrity or personal freedoms except for ‚Äúhippies‚ÄĚ.


  11. The ‘rules’ must have changed in the last four years. I now get all the photos I post to Facebook and all the comments, etc. Facebook does not give it to me, but there are others who deliver. It only seems to be walled if you do not care, which is most of us, of course.


  12. Something we’re still missing is a commonly used extension to RSS that embeds the details of an API for restfully posting comments. ¬†I¬†disseminate¬†my data through Google Reader, which I like to think of part of the common web, though its run by Google, it could easily be done through my browser if so chosen – and either way there is no API for commenting back to the website without visiting the page.. A Comment API that would allow for connections from the commenter to the IDP could ideally open up the web more thoroughly.

    I don’t think its “too late to save the web.” ¬†I think its just late enough, we just need to push new technology that makes it better for IDPs to simply communicate with each other and with the web in general.


    1. ¬†I have been fighting for a way to “federate” comments since I ran my first BBS…¬† And it was EASIER then… Remember FIDOnet? You could post on one member BBS, and within 12 hours it would post to every member BBS?¬† That was 1992!!

      Here it is 20 years later, and we have taken a step BACKWARDS. I post on my website,  I crosspost it to the other SNSs like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.  I get major comments on those networks, and none ever come back to my original post.

      Oh sure, I run wordpress, and there’s plugins that will bring tweets with the URL back in as comments.. but how about replies to those tweets? or if I reply to the comment on my site, can the tweeter see it? And Facebook? forget about it! There’s one plug in in particular that works sproadically, but all it takes is for Facebook to change its API and it’s curtains… and they change APIs as much as I change underpants.¬†

      We already have things like Pingbacks that can tell when and where a posting from my blog was reshared elsewhere on the web– we could use part of that system to discover reshared content and then cross-broadcast comments maybe?

      The web is about discovery, cognition, and discussion.  We need a protocol based on RSS/REST/cURL/SOMETHING to propagate comments from these far-flung reaches of the net back to their OPs.


    2. I’ve been trying to spark more discussion on federated comments/replies for some time now…. Recently, i put up a forum to discuss one of my ideas called inReplyTo Namespace for RSS. ¬†If interested, contact me or visit¬†

      google: sulleleven
      twitter: sull


  13. I wish I could find it but there was an article in the San Jose Mercury News about exactly this. ¬†It was called “The Dark Side of the Web” and it was about some conference they had up there about a year ago where they had concluded exactly this – that Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon had more or less conspired to make sure no one small could ever get anything done outside of their constraints again. ¬†I do like Google+ but it has become corrupt – Google has a major¬†celebrity¬†fetish and they will do anything they can to promote people they think are influential, and don’t mind throwing people under the bus if they are not. ¬†


  14. You sound like a bitter old fogey.
    Fuck, man. It’s been 4y. Saying everything is over already is ridiculous. Facebook has only been a thing for 8y.

    Maybe you’re just trolling for eyeballs.


  15. It’s not too late and I think we are still too early. Situation needs to get worse, much worse. We need to see the blood and feel the pain before we can say ouch and change tack.


  16. It’s silly to compare RSS to Facebook, they’re entirely different technologies. ¬†RSS is strictly for consumption, which is does an excellent job at. ¬†I use both, though frankly I could do without Facebook.


    1. 100% agree with Wes. I can rather easily leave Facebook and if it wasn’t the fact that personal contacts live there, I’d be off it in a heartbeat. Facebook would be as dead to me as MySpace as I can easily use other services to communicate socially. RSS gives me much more value for consumption, you just need to know how to manage it and how to import the data important to you. ¬†


    2. I agree with that too. ¬†I can do without facebook. ¬†If RSS were to go away, however, the web would suck. ¬†It’s no coincidence that I read this through my RSS reader…because I prefer that medium of consumption.


  17. Here’s another sign of the end of the common Web: Try to delete Pandora channels from a Web browser. Now try to delete the channel from the Pandora app. I rest my case.


  18. What we need is for Facebook / G+ etc. to adopt the work being done by the Semantic Web community and the Federated Social Web XG and open the “walled gardens.” OR we need new platform(s) to emerge that do so, and for those platforms to supplant Facebook and the other centralized, dictatorial platforms.


  19. This is nonsense. It;s like saying MP3 won over CD won over LP. When we all know that MP3 is garbage for the most part, CD is worse than LP in sound quality, etc.

    And LPs are coming back.

    Nobody ever WINS. It is just a constant increase of options.

    RSS can do well in parallel with Facebook, Twitter, and the rest.

    But to say that we should stop fighting for our liberties because “Facebook won”, that is really unproductive and damaging.


  20. I have Google+, Twitter, and Facebook accounts, but my real source remains my blog. I won’t let Facebook or Google+ own that. ¬†I don’t care if that means fewer comments, or fewer readers. ¬†At least it’s mine.


  21. Constantly funny how we praise natural selection for bringing the species this far, but try burning it at the stake when it tries taking us further. I guess humans really are counter-evolutionary.

    I have a moral opposition to Facebook’s data and business models, but I do understand the need for these platforms – it’s what better platforms are built on.


  22. The trick is not to put your email addresses on any of these services…keep them on Outlook or similar. Yahoo, google, hotmail address books are public, whether we like it or not. Create and use an email specifically created for these services.¬†


  23. Robert, you are a consumer, not a user. ¬†You’re selling yourself to buy trivial things like Instagram posting and music access. Facebook is a big private trucking company hauling people around on the highway system that is the web. When all the cool people — the people you want to pay attention to you — move elsewhere, you’ll be there, too.


    1. Thanks for sharing the book recommendation.

      The black hole nature of Facebook its greatest weakness. It won’t be long before the cool kids flock to something more expressive, open, and simple.


    2. Agree with Fred here. ¬†“He who fights and runs away shall live to fight another day”. ¬†Steve Jobs and Apple epitomize this. ¬†The battle may be over for now but the war will rage on and ¬†the Zuck will be knocked from his lofty perch soon enough.


  24. Imagine,¬†Steve Gilmore, the Groucho Marx of the Web banishing you from Facebook! ¬†I’m really¬†enjoying the image of you¬†locked in Vic Gundotra‚Äôs trunk, can’t wait to see the video!¬†¬†¬†


  25. Very short sighted of you, in my humble opinion. The protocols and tools of the open Internet are as mature as ever. There will always be companies that create black boxes and dictatorships are more effective and efficient than democracies. That doesn’t mean we bow to the dictator and give up. What the hell? Fight for what is right. Open wins in the end. Your post makes you sound like a child who got your feelings hurt and now won’t play with the other kids. Grow up. Be a man and stand up for what’s right. As an Internet celebrity seize the power and responsibility to do some good.


  26. good way to try and rally interest in the opposite direction… back towards an open web…?

    undulating cycles of data activity, norms, behaviors, visualizations… all feeding to something more important than the internet.

    Oh yes, there is something more important than the internet.

    Not sure the old tech world remembers that post-wealth generation and becoming the cool kids for the first time ever.

    Society… it is an administration process.

    The Internet… it is a data administration process.

    The structure of participation in Society/Internet is in harmony.

    You are a data-slave.

    Fix that, or nothing else matters in the long run.


  27. Scoble, I’ve called you wrong before. This time I say you are wrong to despair. What is shiny today will be dark and corroded tomorrow. Facebook will eventually piss off people in a way that tips the balance away from them and/or something better will come along. (I have my own ideas about ‘better’ that align well with ‘Open Web’.)

    What’s really funny here is the fact I read this because you posted it to your blog and I picked it up on my RSS reader! I stopped following you on Twitter because your Twitter feed was 70% inconsequential crap and 20% marketing other people’s stuff; it wasn’t worth the screen time to find the 10% I cared about. I stopped using Google+¬†altogether. And I only use Facebook from a phone app because I will not pollute my browser experience with their damn tracking cookies.¬†

    FWIW: I don’t use Google search anymore either, for similar reasons as to why I avoid Facebook. Duck Duck Go – – is my search engine of choice for privacy reasons.


  28. Robert, your slavish dedication to Google+ is like doing renovations and improvements to a home you’re renting. It’s great as long as the landlord lets you stay, and Google has demolished its properties in the past (Wave and Buzz, to name two).

    You’re much better off building equity in your own properties, namely your sites. You can still use G+, Facebook and Twitter as marketing channels, which is really all they are. Your website should be the official record. You can repost in those other areas, but they’ll always be available in a place where you have complete control.

    When you’re investing, it never makes sense to put all your eggs in one basket, as they say. It makes sense in promoting yourself online. Relying on any one channel is potentially suicidal. It’s happened to many who’ve relied on search engine traffic from Google. One day it’s fine, then a dance and they’re done.

    You’re lucky you’ve got a profile online that allows you the luxury of being able to bring many followers and fans with you wherever you go. I wouldn’t suggest anyone without a similar following use that same strategy.


  29. Interesting timing on this post, Hacker News also mentioned a post recently from a security nerd questioning why others, specifically security folks, would dare to use gmail/ymail/hotmail/etc for their email needs. I think the arguments pro/con are fairly parallel to this discussion.

    Geeks frequently don’t get usability. This is why I think the recent noise about designers being startup cofounders is a great idea. It’s why so many open source projects drive me batty – great ideas buried in the weeds – if I want to learn how to use them, I need to dig through folders on github. Next!

    Robert – your suggestion of opening my fb profile up for the world to see struck a chord – part of why I use fb (or g+ or MySpace – ’cause ya know I still use that. OK not really) is I can control who sees what I share. While I’m pretty careful about what I put out even in that environment, I hesitate at the thought of making my thoughts completely public. There’s a difference between owning my data and utilizing the common web and walking around naked in public. Remember, in one of their gaffes, Facebook actually tried to default to public-sharing and most of us raised bloody murder at the thought.

    That’s why I want to own my information, right? So I have control over who sees it or what they do with it.

    The thing is, social networks that succeed do so because they make money, which gives them budget and reason to increase usability and stickiness. Systems which allow us to communicate in highly secure manners don’t seem to have much draw at the general public level, but at enterprise level. I’d be interested if somebody could give me an example of something highly successful/popular that didn’t have a strong commercial aspect…


  30. It’s not all lost. Better options will continue to be developed and then people will naturally migrate. Europe is also making laws to put the people first, where the people own their data. The same can exist in North America, though certain companies who are trying to control people and their ecosystem will be fighting and lobbying to prevent this (think Facebook) – but it’ll just be another pain point toward Facebook’s downfall.


    1. The currency is information, and personal relevance. Free market forces have driven companies to capture as much currency as possible, but there should be a counter force to invest this capital back into the (social) network economy.

      BigCos are also sitting on piles of cash at this time as well. I expect this to change as the market forces them to act, and bet on acquisitions/research investments.


      1. Hi Mark!

        BigCos are either going to have to highly overpay for the perceived leaders in a market, and/or try to get away with paying with overvalued stock.

        I am truly curious what Apple has planned for their $90+ billion in cash which dwarfs the amount Facebook is trying to raise during their IPO. Facebook and Apple have the same controlled-ecosystem philosophy – which the exception that Facebook is purely software that is soluble.

        Edit: You could brute force your way in with research investments, though I think anyone driven enough in a market would already have the passion and be working on a solution for themselves. Perhaps they can find acquisitions here that don’t reach success because of something easily fixable with some cash / other resources.


  31. As for the end of Open Web, notice how all the esoteric, lovely things die first. As if they are too good, too idyllic to stay with us. Eventually, everything just turns to s***, dries up and is gone with the wind.


  32. No, that wasn’t my point. Even if I give my business card to someone I trust, much like I do by giving my friends access to my data on Facebook, if they move that data from there, that’s the betrayal of trust.

    According to your point then, if I gave someone my business card, I’d have no room for complaint if they plastered that information over the web and sold it to marketing companies?


    1. ¬†No– that’s not it at all- And yeah, I’ve had people sign me up for BS with my contact info all the time, people I trust, you know like my BROTHER and MOTHER…¬† I just tell ’em I’m not interested and keep it moving.

      The meaning here is when you give me access to your contact info either by writing it on a napkin, bumping iPhones, friending me on FB, whatever– that newly acquired info is MY RESPONSIBILITY to use for GOOD. All I want to do is take the contact info you have given me on Facebook and merge it into my primary database on Google Contacts… but NOOOOOOOO I can’t do THAT… Yet I can send you all kind of dumb-ass FARMVILLE and POKER requests from GAMES that FLOOD your inbox… Would you like that??? Hey how about helping me pick some virtual radishes….

      There’s more than one way to use and MISuse information man…


  33. At least Google has a dedicated data liberation team. That’s a good sign. Also +Paul Kinlan and many others are working hard to normalize Apis with web intents.

    Many folks had hopes in Diaspora, or Project Locker bringing back power to the user (data access control). I wouldn’t count the open web out just yet. It may never be mainstream. That’s fine, the Internet is all about choice.


  34. old schooler here, I read this post on RSS. still I find myself much more comfortable with that, still I find facebook just another MMORPG that will be out of fashion in a couple of years.


  35. You’re right: the world isn’t just going to move back to RSS — though Flipbook, Pulse, and other apps are a pretty good inducement. But walled off social networks are a mess, too. So join the younger generation on Tumblr — it’s like an RSS reader on fast forward, and everything is public, just like you want it to be.


  36. Some of us have never had Facebook accounts in the first place. One look at the privacy policy at the time was enough for me  and even my Google +  account is bare bones and private


  37. Other people’s email addresses and phone numbers, that they put on facebook, not you, are not your data to harvest.

    If it was your own posts, then you’d have a point. But not this.


  38. Other people’s email addresses and phone numbers, that they put on facebook, not you, are not your data to harvest.

    If it was your own posts, then you’d have a point. But not this.


  39. First world problems: Your Klout score. Your followers on Twitter. Your speaking schedule. Figuring out how to talk to your wife without a computer.

    This post cracks me up.


  40. Open web? Battelle’s open web is the commercialized web. Google’s web: crummy apps in browsers. Apps give you the Internet too, and often in HTML form. What’s closed? Google+. Facebook. Social media in general is closed to the rest of the web, because they’re not giving you a place to meet so much as a shopping mall where all you teens can hang out. The romanticism of ‘the open web’ gets hard to bear.¬†


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