First, you literally can draw a line on the calendar and say “prior to this date it was virtually impossible to get meaningful information out of Facebook without being a programmer” – that has now changed. Is it everything we could want? No, but it’s a pretty good start. It’s not so much what you can do with the information today, rather that it is available and will absolutely fuel innovation tomorrow. Sure, other services will use this information, but Facebook is showing leadership as well as responding to the will of its user base – to the benefit of us all.
Secondly, and more importantly in my mind, this announcement shows the elevation in importance of openness and standardization. More than a few of us scratched our heads when open-source guru David Recordon joined the walled-garden giant not so long ago. So it is with great excitement we learned today that David’s efforts (along with all of his cohorts and team members) have succeeded from the inside where so many others have failed from the outside.
From a pure data portability perspective, there is still much more that Facebook can do, but I applaud their direction and effort. This is way more than PR, this is policy that has grown from within and is now escaping into the light. Today’s announcement is the beginning; the Sleeper is waking; and openness lives on with more on the way.