The FaceBook Platform

I have only been following the rumors related to FaceBook’s newest jump as an outsider — the FaceBook Platform. Twice in the same day I am linking to GigOm … this time a very well composed post explaining the new deal. From what I am making of it all, the FB will allow partners (whatever that means) to write specific apps that live on top of the FB. In other words, the FB could be looked at like an OS and these new apps can rest on its foundation. I am guessing this will let normal people (at some point) tap the power of the FB’s data (and user profiles) to create new things that may only have interest to a subset of the users. This does all sorts of things if I understand it correctly, but one thing it does do is allow people to leverage the unbelievably active user base to create niche applications for specific vertical opportunities.

What this means to me is that I could write an application that linked FB traffic with say a course management system of sorts. Layering on top of the FB a whole host of CMS style tools — discussion, quizzing, assignment posting, and really anything else … and the students would never have to leave the FB. If I can do that, then maybe I would consider using the profile power of the FB to get at some very interesting content delivery options … this is all just happening to me in the moment here, but I am thinking of allowing course materials to be presented to you at different levels depending on profile parameters — foreign language students who say they’ve visited France may very well get more advanced podcasts of content to translate as an example. Students don’t spend hours in our spaces like they do in the FB and in the FB they are spending some of that time crafting their profiles to better match either their real or stated identity. Update, this morning while hitting the feeds I bumped into one of the first apps to run on top of FB, Project Agape. It is essentially a “Causes” engine that now has deep integration with the FB. Very interesting stuff.

I need to do more reading and more investigation, but it seems to me that the Marketplace FB just released last week may be one of these such applications. I don’t know that, but it would seem to make sense. I wonder what all this will mean for dedicated social sites who work to grab the typical FB demographic? If I can (or choose) to live in the FB, constantly crafting and honing my profile, why would I go to Flickr to share my pictures? Why would I need to blog outside the environment? Why for that matter, would I need to go to Google to find something? I know the web is the platform we all live on today, but there is something here.

Sorry for the rambling train wreck, but I need someone to help me think about this.

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