Is it too late for LinkedIn to catch Facebook?

As far as I’m concerned, the answer is yes. But I still think it’s interesting to see that LinkedIn is planning to open its network in what appears to be an attempt to “platformize” it the way Facebook did — at least according to a tip that the site All Facebook got (and to a report from Dan Farber at ZDNet). Will it work? Who knows. But I think without it, LinkedIn is probably doomed to be the new Friendster, or at least to be overtaken by Facebook.

snipshot_e4q5×7l4e89.jpgIn a way, I think Facebook is what LinkedIn could have been if it had taken a different road, and tried to become more of a social network — instead of just a series of digital business cards linked by dotted lines, with no real functionality apart from sending an email (I already know how to do that, thanks). In fact, LinkedIn often seems to spend as much of its time preventing you from doing things as it does actually helping you to do things. Or perhaps there was no way for LinkedIn to have become anything like Facebook, since LI started from the business end of the social curve and Facebook started at the university student end — a much better place to start a foundation, I think.

MG Siegler thinks Facebook should buy LinkedIn, which is not a bad idea (Ashkan ponders this as well). And Dave Winer has an interesting suggestion: someone should not only open up their network, but become the operator of a digital identity service — OpenID style — that could be used anywhere. Jeremiah Owyang has some thoughts along those lines as well. Maybe if Facebook tried that, it might get a better reception than the times Microsoft has tried to do something along those lines.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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