Facebook opens APIs for Mashups –Why build another social site if you can harness an existing one?

Facebook opens up APIs for Developers
If I were to start a company that was focused on building a social site around a particular segment (such as cars, food, drinks, or anything else that interests me), I’d consider tapping into existing social networks. Facebook could be just that, as developers could create new applications that could mash with their data (profiles, images, friends and events). Heh, I love how Marc Canter gets so excited about open systems, “I told you so” he says. Learn more at this launched Facebook Developers.

Currency now available
It appears that they’ve also launched a new product called Facebank, which adds in currency to this model –there could be money to be made here. Although there’s already typical marketing being deployed such as Chase’s credit card campaign, (more info here) this will create some unique business models that tap into user to user transactions.

Could this impact Intranet/Extranet Developers?
Let’s think about intranets too, we know that Facebook has released it’s product for businesses to use, not just colleges, if done correctly, these APIs could replace many stale corporate intranets (esp if folks have to rely on a centralized group to update content) and it could tie to other tools such as linkedin, events, calendars, contacts, etc. Think about the rich profile information an employee could put on their Facebook account that could show the skills, projects, they’ve completed.

Web Strategy Question: Build new vs Harness existing
I begin to question why build and brand a new social site when you could harness an existing one? Love to hear your thoughts.

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  • I’ve never used Facebook, but man… I wish something like that was used for out company intranet. Our company had a few folks that pushed hard and replaced our old intranet with a wiki. I was PSYCHED. However… nobody’s using it. I do wish that they used something people know, like the WIkipedia framework. I’ve never seen this one they chose.

    But still, it became abundantly clear that our company is not very wiki-friendly. We have a bunch of psychologists and scientists… not really a techy bunch.

    At some point, I plan to do a little user research on “why the wiki didn’t work”, but this looks like it would be another alternative.

  • indeed. open source software, frameworks and APIs are radically altering the fundamentals of corporate web development; why build anything from the ground-up when someone has almost certainly already done it, done it better and, what is more, made it available to you for free or almost-free? Further, they’ve already done the hard work in terms of seeding user familiarity with the concept, interface etc.

    As a corporate web manager whose heart lies in development it’s actually a heartening change: awareness of what’s available and what’s possible is now an extremely valuable commodity; there’s less low-level systems design and wheel reinvention; it’s becoming more a question of succesfully gluing together existing functional elements.

    Two steps behind the curve as ever, we’re looking to deploy a mediawiki (i.e. wikipedia) based intranet later this year. It just makes so much sense: it’s essentially a robust, scalable, highly extensible CMS, high on usability, familiar to our audience, better than anything we could build in house with existing resources and will save us a ton of time… Still, I’m looking forward to Adam’s forthcoming article on why their intranet wiki *didn’t* work 😉

  • Richard

    Well spoke, I think we share many common thoughts. I believe you’re closely located to me right?

    Even though the tools are becoming radically more flexible and easy to use, thinking of users, and business objectives is still required.

  • Hillsboro, OR. Yes, absolutely; ideally all development is business driven. And – as ever in software development – accurately addressing user needs and direct engagement in the cultural change processes required to encourage adoption and maximise value are too often ignored… Perhaps another way of stating my point would be to say that I’m beginning to see my strategic role more in terms of selecting the right bricks and considering how to best glue them together rather than the succesful managment of ground-up application development. It’s a genuine higher-order technical role, which I think is something new and exciting.

  • As the co-founder of http://www.BillMonk.com, I find your questions especially pertinent. BillMonk is web site for tracking borrowing between friends (loans, shared bills), and also tracks item borrowing (lending library). I was delighted when Facebook made its APIs available. But we were of course concerned that FaceBank (now MoochSpot) tried to imitate our successful solution – so some degree of caution is advised when dealing with Facebook. Of course, we just went ahead and integrated via the Facebook API so their network is just as much an asset to us as to MoochSpot.

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