Facebook wants to be the Web OS

by Mathew on January 27, 2008 · 7 comments

AllFacebook is reporting that Facebook has now made it even easier for developers to create Facebook apps and widgets that will run just about anywhere on the Web. According to the description at ZDNet, developers have been able to get Facebook widgets to run elsewhere since the platform launched, but it took some server-side scripting and knowledge. Now apparently all it takes is a little bit of Javascript.

Whether you think this is a good thing or not probably depends a lot on your view of Facebook widgets and apps, but what I find interesting is how Facebook is trying to straddle the line between control and the open Web — to find some middle ground between the “walled garden” approach and the totally open. The site would no doubt really like it if everyone who created an app used it only on the site, and every user of that app had to come to the site to use it. At the same time, however, Zuckerberg and his team have to recognize that’s probably not going to happen.

Can Facebook continue to be a kind of gatekeeper of the social graph, and yet still allow bits and pieces of its platform to live elsewhere on the Web? I think the fact that it is even trying to do so is worth noting — even though it seems like the site is trying to have its cake and eat it too.

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