One way openness, or learning to spit as well as suck

TechCrunch wrote last week about changes Facebook made to the news feed:

Facebook is planning on allowing users to add activities from third party social networking site directly into their Facebook news feed, we’ve confirmed.

The problem is that their only talking about allowing users to *add* activities into the news feed, not to take their facebook news feed and take it elsewhere. As TechCrunch put it:

This is certainly an opening up of Facebook. And given that so many tens of millions of users spend so much time on the site already, it could remove the wind from the FriendFeed/Plaxo sails.

But don’t expect to see a RSS feed or widgets showing what you or your friends are up to any time soon. The data feeds that Facebook opened up last year do not extend to the News Feed. And from what we hear, Facebook hasn’t made a decision to open it up yet. Until they do, there is still plenty of breathing room for competitors.

But why is this even an opening up of Facebook? I can’t take my news feed and add it to my lifestream or use it on another site – all I can to is add data to Facebook’s walled garden.

Marc Canter, in the middle of his video about Data Portability, makes the point that our web based applications need to learn to spit as well as to suck – his choice of terms might be a bit visceral, but it does get the point across.

The scheduling application for SXSW ( spits, but doesn’t suck. You can export your schedule in an iCal format, and group multiple calendars together (like this) but you can’t import an iCal schedule in, even to add events not in’s database to your calendar. (Though I guess you can pull both out to something like Google Calendar and get your unified view there). You also can’t, as Chris Messina pointed out, login with an OpenID.

Fire Eagle, right now, seems all suck and no spit. It can get my status from Dopplr, or from certain phones, but for now at least I don’t see any way to get it out. The site help says:

There are many applications that can use your Fire Eagle location! For example, you can use Fire Eagle to update your location on your Facebook profile; or embed a badge on your blog or MySpace that shows roughly where you are. Many more are coming. If you’re an engineer then maybe you could write one!

But when I go to the application directory, it looks to me like they are all coming, as in not available now.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Fire Eagle is a great concept, and gets a lot right – specifically the granularity of different privacy settings, in terms of how precise Fire Eagle can be in sharing your location. I’ve been looking forward to it since Marc Davis talked about at the Futures of Entertainment conference last November.

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