Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

How Quickly Our Social Web Conventions Stick

As of today, I have given 106 different apps authorized access to my Facebook account, offering them personal information like my profile picture, friend lists, my favorite content and even my friends’ favorite content.

I use Facebook Connect to integrate with these services when I use them for the first time because it’s easier to click one button than retyping all that personal information, and because these services are better if I’m not trying them all alone or with only strangers. Plus, when I connect I can share content back with my non-early adopting friends on larger services.

But I use way fewer than 106 apps on a daily basis. Facebook’s stats show me that I’ve exchanged data with only a little more than half of them in the last six months.

Meanwhile, I have connected 47 applications to my Twitter account, 15 applications to my Google account, and six applications to my LinkedIn account.

I’m sure other busy bee app lovers pollinate far more widely than I have. You can go see your own stats by visiting these pages: Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn.

It would be sacrilege to launch a social Web service today without connecting to one or more of these services. To not use Facebook Connect or an equivalent abandons immense potential for a service to grow naturally using network effects.

Multiple social apps have tried to strike out on their own and not be dependent on larger networks, but they seem to give up after a few months of being out in the wilderness.

Path, for instance, launched its more intimate photo-sharing service without the ability to post photos to Facebook; that was quickly rectified.

New heavily funded photo-sharing app Color, in its attempt to shake up the world of social networks, only asked users to register with a first name and no other tie to their preexisting online identity.

But that radical departure meant that many people logged onto the proximity-based service and found nobody to share pictures with in their vicinity. And there’s nothing more lonely and confusing than using a social service with nobody else on it.

Even Color is coming around, CEO Bill Nguyen told me. The company plans to add Facebook Connect in a coming version of its apps. “We’re not going to give up but we’ll start making Color more familiar,” he said.

What’s perhaps most crazy about all this to me is that Facebook Connect has only been around less than three years. After beta testing throughout 2008, the service launched to all Web sites in December of that year.

Now, it is just the way things are done.

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik