This weeks Best of Three From Me cover proposed changes to Facebook, actual changes to Twitter and the growth of open source software.
1. Facebook Foursquare Competitor is Imminent – This article comes from CNet. The growth of geo tagging continues apace with Facebook being on the verge of launching its’ own check in feature. Rather than developing their own feature Facebook is reported to be working on an API for third party developers to use to open Facebook network up even more.
To my mind this is a smart move, if Facebook had gone it alone then we would have had one method of checking in. By going down the API route it means that lots of rival services can be developed with the 500 million Facebook users choosing which is the most interesting or useful. Many Twitter clients offer locality based features to help users make contact and I can only assume that this type of feature is likely to be popular with Mark Zuckerberg as he tries to connect everybody with everybody else. At the moment Facebook has networks and Groups, but being able to check in at your workplace, local restaurant, bar or other leisure palace is likely to prove popular with many Facebook users and may well lead to them ditching other services such as Foursquare and Gowalla.
The battle to control the Net that is currently waging is all about getting people to your site and keeping you there. With this feature Facebook takes another step towards domination of the Web.
If a web user has your site as their homepage and you can stop them moving to external sites then you hold a lot of sway in the battle to control online advertising. At the moment Google is the most popular homepage, but Facebook is catching up. The advantage Facebook has over Google is that you use Google as a jumping off point to get to other parts of the web. Facebook tries to keep you within it’s own walled garden. Is Google fatally flawed as a result of this and is this the reason so many rumours are being spread about Google’s own move into the social networking space? Time will tell!
2. Follow Twitter Users Without a Twitter Account – When I first saw this story on Mashable my initial thought was “Why would you want to?”. The idea is simple enough, if you wanted to get text updates on my tweets all you need to do is text “follow michaelwalmsley” to 40404 (This is Twitter’s shortcode and currently is only available in the USA). Then every time I tweet you get a text message with my latest update on it.
Of course the service is not really intended for you to keep track of individuals but rather for advertisers to be able to maintain contact with customers. For example, your favourite restaurant puts a lunchtime offer on and tweet about it in the morning. Rather than you having to wait until you log onto Twitter to pick up the message, probably during your lunch break you instead get a text at 10:30 and choose to lunch their instead of going to the sandwich shop down the road.
For Twitter the advantage may come in the fact that people who do not have accounts with them already can sign up to receive messages from their favourite brands and may then decide to sign up for a Twitter account of their own.
It would also be a good way to keep an eye on your competitors. Rather than dibbing in and out of Twitter all day you can simply sign up for their updates and know that you will be notified of their every move, as they make it. Of course your competitors will know doubt be doing the same to you!
3. Investment in Open Source Software is set to Grow in 2010 – My final choice for this week is taken from a networkworld.com article. It looks at the result of a recent survey by Accenture which says that companies in both the US and UK are looking to increase the amount of Open Source (OS) software that they are using. In the UK 86% said this is down to the fact that the software is of a higher quality as propriety software. Only 49% said that lower costs were an influence. The survey covered both public and private companies.
Personally I am a big fan of Open Source software, this site is developed on Concrete 5 and WordPress as they both provide a tremendous amount of flexibility that I, and many of my clients, find very useful. The other big advantage that I find with OS software is that it can be developed more quickly than a lot of propriety software that are often developed by committee and result in great ideas being watered down and taking an inordinate amount of time to be developed.
The Open Source community has also matured over time and OS products such as Joomla and WordPress are well known within the IT world as providing stable products that are built to exacting standards.
I believe that Open Source will continue to grow over time and the challenge won’t be for the OS community the challenge for propriety companies will be how they face the challenge of the OS world.
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