Foaf VS Walled Communities

The web 2.0 is getting richer based on the proprietary walls.
There is an often asked question: why is FOAF out there for years but nobody made a business model out of it? Easy: because when you open your service to be replaceable, you are replaceable. Imagine a world where you could switch your community website like you can already switch your newsreader today (thanks to OPML): Venture capitalists would sweat like a drunken grad student in final exam.

This post is partly inspired by this. There is a mix up of cause and effect: FOAF as a standard is making Web 2.0 services interoperable and standardized. Orkut, facebook, linkedin, studivz, (++) would all have the same API and an extensible data format if they used FOAF and RDF.

But wait – who is the venture capitalist behind these web 2.0 walls? Maybe you. So you suddenly realize that when your little nerds in the computer room switch the lever towards standards, your money may go down the well, because then your precious closed community of people, and that is what you sell and own: data about people, will be open for anyone else to copy. So you would do your best not going for standards but instead making the BEST social service EVER so that everyone DIGGS it and invites all HIS FRIENDS into closed walls. Capitalism is ok, but we have to name it what it is.

Like Dick Hardt from SXIP said in his well-known keynote: its your data, not theirs. FOAF and RDF is a way to get back your data from the web 2.0 companies that own you at the moment, make them give you back the data you have entered. Switching from Flickr to another photo community should be as easy as switching newsreader (thx to OPML) or Office Application (thx to OpenDocument).

Microsoft does not go crazy for a standardized OpenDocument format, which would help us get free from the monopoly that takes your money when buying a computer and invests it to sell XBoxes to your kid. Why should it be different with web 2.0? But thanks for pointing us to the VC view.