Like locked cell phones and copy-protected music, Facebook is on the wrong side of the open-network debate. Facebook is a sealed bubble. Facebook users are locked into Facebook, just as iTunes locks music fans to Apple’s iPod.
This serves companies’ business interests, but not the wider interests of consumers.
At this point, “friend” relationships remain unique to the social networks. The web still lacks a generalized way to convey relationships between people’s identities on the internet. The absence of this secret sauce — an underlying framework that connects “friends” and establishes trust relationships between peers — is what gave rise to social networks in the first place. —Scott Gilbertson —Slap in the Facebook: It’s Time for Social Networks to Open Up (Wired)
I couldn’t have said it better. This is why I have no particular desire to use a fenced-in system. Yes, I have my students blog with MovableType, but the software is free for private users.
Having said that, I realize that the appeal for some people is precisely that they can share their information with a small group of friends, but all it takes is for one friend to squeal.
I also confess to feeling a bit uncomfortable at the prospect of contacting a researcher whose work I find useful, and telling them I want to be his or her “friend”. In the clinically hierarchical world of academia, even “colleague” might be presumptuous.