Open Graph and the end of pretense

Posted on October 18, 2011 by Tunde Cockshott

Relationships are about sharing. We share what we want to share. Relationships are about letting others see you in the way you want them to see you. It is about me presenting myself to the world. They are about self-expression, not self-exposure.

Facebook has grown on the back of this basic idea, a need to express one’s self. It has been an explicit activity; I decide what to tell you and what I “like”. Look at me. I saw this great video. Look at me, I am reading this very interesting book. I have just checked in to this amazing exhibition. This is what I think about this news story etc.

I filter and select the best bits of my life to present to you to ensure you build and maintain the impression I want you to have of me. It is not about the warts and all picture of me. The impression may be different for my work colleagues as to that for my family or close friends, but each persona I create is made by me.

All of this is about to change. At the F8 conference last week, Facebook announced Open Graph. Open Graph opens the door to the real me. The Open Graph protocol is designed to support real life objects, such as activities, places, products etc and allows people to develop apps that ‘simplify’ sharing. Facebook categorises apps that use the platform into four groups: Communication, Games, Media and Lifestyle. Now any website will be able to share with Facebook your activity that it thinks is interesting. From Facebook’s perspective this is just an extension of what it already does. You are on Facebook to share, so it is helping us by introducing this ‘frictionless sharing’.

Once the apps start to arrive my digital life will be laid bare. My real web browsing habits, the good books I read and the pulp. The trendy music and the embarrassing old crap I still listen to. Never mind NSFW (not safe for work), what about NSFL – not safe for life.

Of course there will be (must be) controls to allow some ability to switch on or off this broadcast of our lives, but the direction that Facebook is heading is clear. It is already tracking our visits to any sites that integrate Facebook. Do we all want to be stars of our own Justin.tv or do we sometimes want to pull the curtains?

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