Thursday, May 24, 2007

Facebook opens the gates! And they're off!

Well, about an hour ago, Facebook just announced their new Platform integration API. And we had an announcement ourself.

We've been having a TON of fun as a launch developer, seeing what's possible with their api. We've learned a lot of tricks along the way, specifically about integrating securely with a third party in a stateless REST environment. And all that we've learned should be released soon. We're developing an ActionScript 3 API for Platform, which we will be releasing soon.

Right now Jason is over in San Francisco taking part in a hack-a-thon with the Facebook guys. I knew I shouldn't have let him have all the fun. *sigh*

Why I like Facebook is the sort of 'extroverted internet' approach they've taken. I'm not a big MySpace fan, and a marginal extrovert myself. But I can understand what makes Facebook a great social application.

Facebook understands the concept of signal-to-noise ratio better than any existing social networking site. If you have to surf through tons of crap to find what you want, it makes it less accessible, and less valuable. Google understands this. Getting the user from point A to point B quickly is paramount to user experience. What about in the sphere of social networking? In terms of relationships, Facebook is speed dating, and MySpace is a noisy, loud night club.

Of course there is a place and time for both. Facebook has used discretion in allowing access to its users. It doesn't want to lose its integrity, and the high signal-to-noise ratio. But it has to be competitive on features, without opening the flood gates to the noobs. And so the new 'Applications' features have been developed.

Applications are Facebook's equivalent to MySpace codes. But unlike MySpace codes, which is basically just html, Facebook uses FBML to include html in its pages. Applications must also be registered with Facebook, requiring a certain level of proficiency, and removing anonymity from the application developer. That's important when you've got 27 million+ users to keep secure.

Overall I'm really happy to see a social networking platform rolled out that has this kind of smarts. We'll see where it goes from here!

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