If the Medium is the Message…..

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Today the net is abuzz with Robert Scobles recent block from facebook after he tried to pull down the data of his friends/colleagues into the DataPortability.org initiative.People are aghast that Robert can’t yank down ‘his’ information to a secondary provider of ‘his’ choice. Lets take a step back here…Back in May when facebook released it original API there was a great little tool called FBAddressbook Sync. For me it was a godsend in that it allowed me to sync my facebook contacts into my Mac’s AddressBook. I could grab birth dates, phone numbers, addresses, emails and they’d sync to my computer(s.) It was great. It however breaks that spirit and trust in facebook that users have. (it has since been banned and no longer works)The information that Robert was trying to pull down was not “THEIRS AND NOT FACEBOOK’S” as Kara Swisher says (her caps not mine.) Which is a simplified view at best.The truth is that information is neither Robert’s nor Facebooks. Each individual has chosen to share with Robert information based on a set of premises that are defined in the medium of facebook. They have also chosen to share this information and manage it within Facebooks rules. In this case the medium has defined the message and the relationship. Robert trying to move each individual friends information from facebook so that he can use it at his leisure wherever or with whomever (and under any TOS) he chooses is at best a misrepresentation of being a facebook friend of his and at worst a (lowend) breach of trust.Not that I think Robert is an evil guy. But he does use a fair bit of the (pardon the expression) Web 2.0 Social Networks. All of them have different terms of services and different rules. Who knows, he may take that information and upload it to Rapleaf or Upscoop both of whom people have had significant issues with (yours included.)For the record I like moving this information around as I see fit. But if Robert and Facebook want to put this behind them, Robert could ask to make this an optional part of facebook in the privacy settings (like Beacon is.)And for those that might to try an compare this to the Flickr to Zoomr fiasco. Its not the same thing, I don’t own my friends information and neither does Facebook ergo I would have to get each individuals OK to pull it out of the walled garden of facebook. Robert is in the wrong on this one… Not facebook.

The Author

Hi. My name is Matt Roberts, you can find me at www.mattroberts.com.

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