Facebook can Die Like the Rest

In the post Planning for the future my point was to tell you that the future is unwritten. It hasn’t happened yet, which means you can still have an effect on it.

Facebook is Dead

In Keep Making Social Networks, Facebook Hasn’t Won, Ben Metcalfe gets into it, reminds us of the past, and tells us that the future is open. It’s encouraging because there are times when I think Facebook has all the cards. Right now they’ve got a lot of users, a lot of data, a lot of mindshare, and we’re at a point where the usage of the Internet by “common folk” is exploding, or has been exploding for quite some time, and many of these new people join Facebook and think “this is what the Internet is all about!” and they’re wrong. So wrong…

I do use Facebook, just like I’ve used many tools in the past, to the limits of their usefulness. But I also don’t just settle. I like to think that things will get better the next time around. I still believe in a free and open web, and I’m not satisfied with how Facebook fits into that future.

So when I say “Facebook can Die Like the Rest” I’m not talking to Facebook, telling them what to do… I’m talking to you, telling you that it’s a possibility. Maybe if we work together we can make it a reality, and replace it with something better.

Keep on disrupting!


Chrome Web Store… Evil?

Google’s got something new planned… it’s the Chrome Web Store! There’s a nice description at Mashable with a well-produced video. (Google seems to be working hard at creating well-produced videos, filled with people you really want to trust… are they actors? Real Google employees? Real Actors Google has hired as employees?)


So this new Chrome Web Store, or “App Store” as it were, seems to be a way for people to “sell” applications to Chrome users. To be fair, you can also make your app available for free. As for the paid part, well gosh, they aren’t that evil because they take a smaller cut than Apple does with their app store. Make no mistake, Apple’s App Store is evil, so even if you’re less evil than the guy who is more evil… you’re still evil!

Apple’s App Store is evil. I won’t deny that… Steve basically says that if you don’t like it, you can build your app as a web site, and use Mobile Safari to access it on your iPhone. That idea may be less evil than the Chrome Web Store, because while Apple suggests you do this, it doesn’t do anything to get into the revenue stream of it, and leave that’s totally up to you to figure out. I also don’t think they suggest you make it work only in Mobile Safari…

So here are some questions about the Chrome Web Store…

  • Is it based on open standards?
  • Will it work in all browsers, not just Google Chrome?
  • Can anyone run a competitor to the Chrome Web Store?
  • Does it help keep the web free?
  • Does it help keep the web open?

There is a battle going on… it’s for control of the web. I’m on the side of keeping the web free and open. I can see this fracturing the web, and I don’t like it.

It looks like the Chrome Web Store will also allow for the selling of browser extensions for Chrome. An interesting idea. While Mozilla popularized the idea of Browser extensions, Google wants to come along an monetize it. But don’t worry, they’ll only take a small cut…

Ultimately this makes sense for Google and their Chrome OS, which means to take over everything, because all you’ll need is The (Google) Cloud™ and the Chrome Web Store so you can buy your Google Approved Apps to run in your Google Chrome Browser and OS. But it’s OK, because Google doesn’t believe in lock-in.

This is just one more reason I really don’t care for the Google Chrome web browser… I prefer to stick with a browser created by a non-profit organization that has a similar mission to mine, to promote openness on the web.

P.S. I think Google is a great search engine. They also do other things quite well, but that doesn’t mean I want them to do everything, and I definitely don’t want them to control everything.


Stylish for Thunderbird 3.1

I got sick of waiting for Stylish to be updated to work in Thunderbird 3.1, so I took care of it.

By “took care of it” I mean I did the following:

  1. Read through Hacking Firefox Extensions
  2. Hacked Stylish
  3. Tested the Hacked version

And since it worked for me, I’m putting it out there.

Over in the code section is a new directory named stylish. Go there, download the file stylish-1.0.9a-fx+tb+sm.xpi, and install it into Thunderbird.

There’s also a simple readme file there that explains what I did. I’ll show it here as well:

stylish-1.0.9a-fx+tb+sm.xpi is a hacked version of stylish-1.0.9-fx+tb+sm.xpi

There are basically two differences from the official version:

 - This one has an 'a' in it's name.
 - This one will install into Thunderbird 3.1.x

All I did was change the string that says what 
version of Thunderbird it can install into.

I could find no license info for the original code. 
If the author wishes me to remove this, I certainly will.
Update 2010-07-28: The code is licensed under the GNU General Public License, version 3.0

Use at your own risk.  <-- the lawyers told me to say that!

So if you trust me, feel free to download the hacked version and install it into Thunderbird 3.1... and if you don't trust me, go read the Hacking Firefox Extensions post and then do it yourself.

(You'll also find my 'Various Tweaks' file in the stylish directory as well. This is a style I use for Thunderbird based on info I got from this page on Thunderbird Chrome. )

Update 2010-07-28: The source code is licensed under the GNU General Public License, version 3.0


Data goes in, Data comes out.

Data Portability

When you’re building a web application (you know, like Twitter, or Flickr, or Facebook, or Last.FM, or Posterous) you obviously want people to put data into it, and you’re going to make it easy to do.

But are you making it easy for people to get their data out of it?

Here’s my simple rules for building a web application:

  1. Make it easy for users to get their data into your system.
  2. Make it easy for users to get their data out of your system.

That’s it. Do number 1, then do number 2, Do not stop in between number 1 and number 2.

If you’re convinced your application is amazing, you shouldn’t have to rely on lock-in to keep people using it. They’ll praise it openly, they’ll become your fans, they’ll shout it to their friends. Anything else is bullshit.


Open Everything (Video)

Here’s some interview footage Gabe and I got during Open Everything in Madison, Wisconsin on April 18, 2009.

We talked with Doug Whitfield of the Open Madison Group and got his thoughts on the event, and the ideas behind Open Everything.

You can also read my post from the event: Open Everything

(This video is also available at and at Vimeo and is published under a Creative Commons Attribution License.)