The Importance of Openness

We all know of the people complaining about Twitter’s stability. Several people have even talked about Twitter becoming a utility service that even better services are built upon. I even addressed this a few weeks ago with my Twitter At The Crossroads post. The only reason most of this is discussed is due to their openness and the API.

Friendfeed has had an API for a while as well. Some applications have started to appear, like the Friendfeed mobile application FFToGo. Friendfeed even received some nice publicity from the Financial Times regarding the fact that their openness puts pressure on their rivals. The need for an API has been visited before. I wrote a post back in March about whether APIs were a good thing. There is a quote from that post that I would like to revisit.

There was an interesting article on ReadWriteWeb on Monday 3/3 regarding whether developer APIs are a good idea. … The article also has some very good observations:

Offering an API is a great way to make developer friends and developing for a large Platform has the potential to bring your work to a huge audience.

Twitter has seen the downside of this developer platform. By creating the API, they allowed developers to create third-party client applications and aggregation applications. Friendfeed itself is a user of the Twitter API. Twitter would not be nearly as popular if they only allowed access through the web client. Friendfeed would not be getting the same type of coverage from the Financial Times if they did not have their API and they could not rely on the APIs of other services.

Where do we go from here?

We are seeing a change in what the web is doing. First we had static pages, then dynamic pages and web forms. Now with social networking and social media, we saw what the interactivity of the internet could bring us. With sites like Twitter and Friendfeed, we are starting to see the new “utilities”. We already have search, mapping and other basic utility sites that were part of the “Information Age”. Now we are getting into utility services that are about conversation, let’s call this the “Communication Age” of the internet. Yes, there are still some issues to deal with, like the stability of these utilities and the fragmentation of the conversations. However, there are very smart people working on these problems. I have seen that competing companies are talking to one another in order to find a way to work better together. Twitter is communicating about its’ problems to its’ users. If the communication among all of these companies stays open, big things could happen.

Imagine this, Twitter becomes stable and is generally accepted as a utility (similar to Google and search). Friendfeed and other aggregators are accepted by mainstream internet users. Finally, most mobile phones are usable as a miniature web browser. If the “Communication Age” can mature and mobile technology evolves to become a hand held computer, the game changes again. Twitter and Friendfeed are not changing the internet, they are just enabling the change.

One thought on “The Importance of Openness

  1. thats great that you are talking about the twitter api,a good example of searching with the twitter api is on because you can search on twitter and google at the same time.


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