This blog post about Leo Laporte’s strained relationship with Twitter has me thinking this morning. The post outlines the “dangers” of twitter (using the front men of Laporte and Dave Winer) as a “closed” or “centralized” system. Now, as a twitter user (and fan), I completely get the closed and centralized argument, but I think it’s a bit off.
Since time immemorial, techies have talked about “lock-in,” specifically the dangers of lock-in when it comes to platforms. Microsoft’s past predatory behavior probably didn’t help much, but I do think a lot of things have changed.
These days platforms are expected to have APIs and to allow for some level of data portability. Those that don’t are quickly ridiculed and often shamed into changing (at least somewhat). We can argue about whether Twitter is “too closed,” but what we can’t argue is that Twitter is a modern day version of the “walled garden” (circa AOL). We can’t even argue that about Facebook. The old walled gardens were just that — walled. As in closed. As in, you ain’t getting an app in or info out until you have 7 meetings with our biz dev guy. [Later: a friend reminds me that the “7 meetings with a biz dev guy” practice is currently how LinkedIn operates, thus making LinkedIn the new AOL.]
That’s just not the case anymore. And the debate should change accordingly.
It’s no longer a matter of open or closed. It’s a matter of how open (closed is off the table as an option). And once you enter the realm of “how open,” you’ve now firmly stepped into the topical topography of Glue. Gluecon is really all about how open. Platforms can “get sticky.” So can architectures (WOA vs. SOA) and clouds. The question is to what extent and through what mechanisms.The way we talk about these problems matters. Getting stuck in the “open vs. closed” platform debate just keeps us going in circles in 1998. To advance things we need to be hammering away at the “hows and whys” of making platforms, clouds and architectures sticky — where “sticky” may mean interoperable, integrated, federated, whatever.
Returning to the Laporte post, can we put the Twitter pandora back in the box? I doubt it (sorry laconica). But we can begin talking through the glue of platforms.All of which begs the logical question: what platform (and underlying cloud) discussions will we be having at Gluecon? Short answer: plenty (and note to vendors: we will discuss your platforms whether you’re there or not – sorry). Long answer: Facebook, Salesforce.com, Azure (and the Geneva toolset), Twitter, Google, and even just the good ole interweb itself.
Come help us move the discussion forward.