November 6, 2007
@ 02:37 PM

Disclaimer: Although I work on the What’s New feed in Windows Live Spaces this should not be considered an announcement or precursor to an announcement of upcoming features of any Windows Live service.

Yesterday, I got into a debate with Yaron about whether Facebook has done enough to allow applications built on top of the Facebook platform to feel to end users as if they are part of a unified whole instead of merely being bolted on. I argued that they had, while Yaron felt otherwise.

The next time I logged into Facebook, I noticed the following which I hadn’t acknowledged up until that point. See if you can figure out the problem from the two screen shots. Mouse over for a hint.

See the Flixster Movies entry?

Where's Flixster?

The problem with building a platform on top of an existing application is that any problems users have with these platform applications ends up affecting their perception of your application in a negative way. How many people care that 70% of Windows crashes were caused by buggy device drivers that were for the most part written by hardware manufacturers and not part of Windows itself?

Recently I’ve seen a rush by some Web sites to jump on the platform bandwagon without clearly understanding how much work and how different a thought process it actually takes to get there. It will be an unfortunate shock for companies when they realize that it isn’t simply about chasing after feature sets. Building a platform is a holistic experience which includes getting the small details right, like giving users consistent opt out choices for the data they get in their news feed not just providing a bunch of APIs. Facebook is one of the few online services that gets it like 90% right and even they mess up on some things as I’ve pointed out above.

Think about that the next time someone shows you a bunch of APIs and tells you they’ve turned their Web site into a Web platform.

Now playing: G-Unit - I Wanna Get to Know You


Tuesday, 06 November 2007 15:37:40 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I much agree with your statement here and I would it's even harder considering you have to accomodate two distinc populations: developers and users. Both having different needs that your platform must support.

I guess it's the reason why IT is part science, part industry.
Tuesday, 06 November 2007 15:55:27 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
With this post in mind I'd be interested in your opinion on my latest fatuous desire for Live Spaces:

Will there be an API for the Spaces 'What's new' feed!550F681DAD532637!2383.entry

Wednesday, 14 November 2007 18:03:32 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I had just tried to "find Flixster" in the feed preferences about 20 minutes ago. And explain to me why Flixster needs you to "make friends" with people all over again when Facebook already knows who your friends are.

As someone who is actually building a company that is a platform, I'm keenly sensitive to this stuff. It is hard work, you can't punt on complexity either -- lowest common denominator solutions don't work.
Thursday, 15 November 2007 23:02:55 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Actually, you can un-unsubscribe from any application notifications through privacy settings. Grant it though it's not as easy as limiting the newsfeed data flow for facebook functions.

But that answer to your question is no, Facebook has not done enough to integrate applications. And the reason is fairly obvious, applications can't communicate with one another. Until there is some framework of inter-operation between Facebook apps, the application experience will feel fairly isolated and disconnected.

Matt S.
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