Marc talks about the Scoble-Facebook debacle in Marc%u2019s Voice » Blog Archive » Opt-in controls for allowing your info to be Exported :

I find this interesting in the context of LinkedIn and Webmail services like GMail. And particularly interesting because Plaxo is involved. We would be horrified if Mail *didn’t* allow us access to the email addresses of our friends. So it’s common to have CSV export and an API for getting them. This in turn leads to libraries like Octazen that enable the “find my friends on this service” function in every new YASN. LinkedIn sit in the middle of the spectrum. They’ve had a CSV export of email addresses for a long time. Nobody bat’s an eye at this despite the fact that there’s no opt in. Meanwhile Plaxo have built a business on syncing all this data between your different data stores of emails. And yet, they don’t have a formal API for querying the data, perhaps because their business is built on selling you the tools. Which leads to Octazen being unable to get *your* contact data out of Plaxo. This wasn’t a problem until Plaxo started being a YASN as well. By the time we cross the spectrum into MyOrkutFace territory we’re seriously into (Bat Country!) VC funded member growth at all costs. Now it’s not in their interests to allow any export ever. The only thing that matters is viral growth[1], stickiness and page impressions.

Over on my tiny site, Ecademy, we took the decision a long time ago to provide as many APIs as we could and to expose any data that was available as HTML in machine readable formats. If you choose to show your email address on your profile, you must expect it to be available in FOAF, VCard, CSV and whatever else I can support. So the opt in is “Am I visible” and “which of my contact details are visible”. Once that’s done, the rest follows.

[1]I’m afraid I now hate Facebook. Every function in there is a poor copy of better functions provided by single purpose applications elsewhere. eg Twitter, Upcoming, phpBB, Flickr, Wordpress, etc etc. The one and only thing it’s good at is being viral. The one thing going for it is that there’s lots of people there. The real trick in 2008 is going to be interop between all the special purpose sites so we don’t have to do the “Am I Your Friend? Y/N” dance on each shiny new Social Site we sign up to.

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[ 04-Jan-08 10:23am ] [ ]