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Why there aren’t open social networks

Randomly saw some posts on open standards for social networking sites and I guess I have to throw my two cents out here.  Determining where to invest in these situations is tricky.  I think if you look at the history of software products, you see a drive to standardize and create interoperability once a certain level of maturity in the marketplace is achieved.  Remember when we had javascript and activescript?  Remember when HTML started to fracture?  Word processors, Operating systems.  This happens a lot.  First everyone focuses on building out features.  Then, when there is relative feature parity, they start to focus on lowering switching costs.

What is particularly interesting about this market is that the technology is so unsophisticated.  Relatively speaking, opening platforms up should be easy.  For some reason, my brain isn’t working today and I can’t think of how the market definitively works here, but I think going open is better.  I know for sure that APIs win.  It is better to have APIs and attract developers and their free R&D than to not have developers.  What’s interesting is that this is different.  I think if you look at markets, Linux and Mozilla and Apache are all winners, but I don’t think it is always true that those with the lowest switching costs win.

Be interested in comments on this.

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