Brian alerted me to a post by Dave Winer, called Facebook *is* opening up. It's true! Some Facebook content is now easily available as RSS feeds: for example a feed of items which have been posted by my 'friends'. Note how you don't need to be logged in to Facebook (or have an account for that matter) to use this. Dave reports that, in fact, these feeds have been available for some time. Nonetheless, as he says:
According to convention wisdom, Facebook was, until today, considered a sandbox, a walled garden, a silo. Now that we know that the feeds are being implemented (many are still needed to make it really open) it's possible for Facebook-generated data to percolate into other Internet applications. As Fred Wilson has wisely pointed out, there is no winner-take-all outcome possible, and closed sandboxes just encourage route-arounds, so what Facebook is doing is smart and necessary.
For me, Facebook just became considerably more interesting. As I said in a previous post:
If facebook’s social networks were exposed to the web, ‘mine-able’ and mashable - now that would be exciting.
I'm not excited just yet.... we need to see more 'opening up', but I'm watching with real interest now. Update: The default privacy setting for most of the content a user can add to Facebook appears to be "All my networks and all my friends". This is the most 'open' of the settings possible - there is no 'public' or 'absolutely everyone' setting. So when when one of my friends changes their status message for example they might, if they care at all, be under the impression that this can only be viewed by their friends (including me) and people in their network(s). If I then go and publish the feed URL to the world, this information is now available without restriction. Have I betrayed the trust of my 'friends' by making such an RSS feed available? Is this model broken?