The Real Time Web Must Remain Open.

All the cool kids are talking about the Real Time Web. There’s a lot of innovation here but one of the main problems is that all the data is being held by two main players – Twitter and Facebook.

It’s not really an open network. If you need to launch a startup on the Real Time Web you have to get the permission of Facebook or Twitter.

What if Google had to get the permission of Microsoft to index the web and launch their search engine?

What if they were still dependent on this data from Microsoft?

I’m sure MS would be throwing them to the wolves and demanding a LARGE revenue share of the search giant.

A lot people don’t feel that Facebook’s new Open Graph is really open:

Following Facebook’s big Open Graph announcements at f8 a couple days ago, many of the leaders of the so-called “open web” are taking exception to Facebook’s use of the term “open” for its grandiose plans. While the Open Graph may be a lot of things, it is not open, is the feeling many of them have, as Erick laid out earlier.

… I’m looking forward to more and more people to notice that the open spirit of the web that we’ve grown to depend on is slowly being taken from us.

I don’t blame Twitter and Facebook for making these decisions. If I were them I would be tempted to make the same decisions.

However, it’s in the best interest of consumers to insist on the Real Time Web being open. The more Real Time search engines , aggregation companies, ranking companies, twitter clients, etc, the better for everyone concerned.


  1. I don’t understand how Facebook’s moves make them less open. The moves make them more open – what is your definition of “open”?

  2. I didn’t say that they were less open because of their announcements. I’m saying that they need to still become more open.

  3. Why pick on just Facebook then? Google SocialGraph and FriendConnect aren’t open. Twitter’s APIs aren’t open. While the APIs around it aren’t (similar to Google and Twitter), Facebook’s OpenGraph protocol is 100% open.

  4. Jesse, did you actually read my post? I mention Twitter along with Facebook.

  5. The point being you seem to be inferring you have to get the permission of Facebook to index its new Open Graph Protocol architecture. That’s not the case. I’m curious why you think that.

  6. Try to run a business on top of Facebook or Twitter data.

    Now get to the point where you’re making $100M a year…. and FB and Twitter have a monopoly on the data.

    How much of a % of your company do you think they’re going to want before they cut you off and destroy your business?

    With the web, you don’t have this problem.

  7. burtonator, that still doesn’t fix the fact that you were wrong in implying you have to get the permission of Facebook to index Facebook data. Facebook is 100% indexable now (and real time!). Facebook is opening up their data, not taking it away from you. Go use the open web, use Facebook as part of what you make, or take the data you get from Facebook – do as you please. It’s all open now. Facebook is just another piece of the open web now. You’re not making sense.

  8. Jesse.

    If you haven’t indexed or used an API in production at scale I can understand your confusion. It might appear free but it’s severely rate limited. If you want to use it in more than minimal volume you need permission.

    The limit is 100 calls ever 600 seconds.

    It’s not 100% indexable… most of the data in the search API isn’t there… It’s also only realtime for a limited subset of the users.

    More to the point – here’s a more precise definition.

    Can I launch a direct competitor to Facebook and still receive the realtime data stream for all users?

    If Facebook vanishes, can I still have access to the full stream of data.

    If these answers are no, you don’t have an open system.

  9. You are correct there (and yes I have managed a product at scale – quite large products, in fact). However, what company out there (other than the open web) is releasing their user data without rate limits or APIs in front of that data? It’s not Google (at least the same data as Facebook has behind its API). It’s not Twitter.

  10. It’s definitely not Twitter. They’re not fully open either.

    I”m speaking more of the existing web. You can aggregate the existing web without having to worry about any one company cutting you off.

  11. MarkH

    Isn’t this more about the shift to hosting/cloud services?

    Wasn’t the “open web” you advocate based on a world where users payed for the hosting and infrastructure to serve their site or blog?

    What we’re seeing is users enjoying the convenience of “free” infrastructure and the consolidation of large communities. Having set up home in these cosy hives we shouldn’t be surprised when the beekeeper comes along to make off with all the honey….

  12. Mark.

    I agree that this is something that I’m worried about but for the most part these existing systems like Typepad, Livejournal, and Blogger have been totally open.

    Typepad and Livejournal have direct streams anyone can connect to that are totally open and Blogger has a feed of updates that they send off.

    … and I believe there is a PubSub hub now…

  13. Imagine if email had evolved like Twitter and Facebook. Rather than having a federated system of millions of independently managed email servers, all our mail would filter through one or a small number of providers. That’s not the kind of world I think any of us should want.

    We should all be fighting for and supporting the development of open standards that support federated services and that empower end users with data portability. The world of closed, walled-garden systems where user’s needs and rights are subordinated to the interests of service providers should be seen as unacceptable.

    The real-time web should be like the original web — an open web that is not only open in terms of its specifications but also open to anyone who wants to provide services on the same basis as anyone else.

    bob wyman






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