Facebook, Open Graph, User-Generated Content, and Small Pieces Loosely Joined

Flickr’s Kellan-Elliott McCrea has a number of interesting thoughts about Facebook’s new Open Graph technology set, which seeks to make the Web even more social [as if it weren’t already, I guess]. One of them that struck me most is about identity:

Thinking about the various attempts to claim ownership of websites over the years, I think the last one that I implemented was Technorati’s and for the fiddliness of placing a badge on my site, I never got much value.

As someone’s who thinks about the role of identity on the Internet, it’s interesting to see these strong identity claims. As a pragmatist it looks like most web pages will be claimed by organizations not individuals. And as a developer on the “Open Web”, I can’t help but compare and contrast this approach versus approaches like Web Finger and the Social Graph API.

As a publisher it’s mildly interesting right now, a non-intrusive vanity plate that acts as hook into a well thought out API. This changes when the promised “coming soon” update to streams.publish lands, giving me access to the stream of anyone who has a relationship with the objects I own. Changes a lot.

I’ve given a lot of thought over the years to this identity thing on the Internet. I loved the concept of XFN when it first came out, but man, that was almost seven years ago. I bet even Matt Mullenweg has forgotten about it.

My raggedly-made point is that there is nothing truly new here. Facebook struggles with openness while being a semi-walled garden. Of course, we should all see the profit motive behind this for Facebook: by allowing users to draw the Web into Facebook, they keep users on the site more, learn more about their personalities, and can monetize that through ads. If that makes you a bit queasy, well, it does me, too. But it’s nice work if you can get it.