Yesterday, Techmeme was ablaze with posts about sharing on Facebook’s Open Graph. A CNet post by Molly Wood with the title “How Facebook is ruining sharing” appears to have kicked it all off. In it she argues that the automated (“frictionless”) sharing via Open Graph apps results in a lot more noise rather than signal. Marshall Kirkpartrick at RWW holds the same view in a piece titled “Why Facebook’s Seamless Sharing is Wrong”. Robert Scoble — not that surprisingly — is more optimistic about the benefits of automated sharing despite calling his post “The Facebook Freaky Line” and Josh Constine at Techcrunch thinks we just need better tools to curate what ex-post facto what was shared automatically in his post on “Facebook and the Age of Curation Through Unsharing”.
The arguments in these pieces are mostly about signal versus noise and about what people are comfortable sharing (or unsharing - really, who would want to do that?). But somewhat surprisingly every one of these posts seems to take sharing with Facebook as single network, the one network to rule them all, as a given. Questioning that view seems to me the most important critique of Facebook’s Open Graph. I believe we will be better off in a world with a proliferation of different networks for sharing different things with different people. I personally want to share my location with a different group of people (foursquare) than my game play (Heyzap) or my music listening (ex.fm). These different networks can provide functionality and graph models (symmetric, asymmetric) that are specific to the type of content I am sharing.
Sites and apps that essentially delegate their sharing and hence ultimately their discovery primarily or entirely to Facebook are missing the opportunity to build a network of their own with features that work best for their participants. In such a world, all of these networks don’t need to live in isolation though. There is an opportunity for a network of networks to exist. Twitter is well positioned to play this role. When I have a moment on foursquare, or Heyzap, or ex.fm that I do want to share more broadly, I can always choose to broadcast it to the public network which connects everyone. That sharing to the network of networks will carry with it a particularly high signal value.