free html hit counter Can't We Be Friends? - John Battelle's Search Blog

Can't We Be Friends?

By - February 08, 2004

MSFT’s uber blogger Robert Scoble, after a week off, gets warmed up again with 26 (and counting) posts this weekend, the best for my money being this one. In it he suggests, after noting how sick he is of filing in the same profile information for orkut as he did for his first IM app in 1996, that MSFT and Google have a few beers and figure out how to play nice by creating social software apps that work with one another. Excerpt:

Why doesn’t Google and Microsoft sit down at a table. Yes, I know, we’re supposed to be bitter enemies. Let’s get over that. Let’s sit down. Have a few beers. And come up with social software that can share contacts with each other. Let’s announce it in a joint press conference. Let’s get over our own lock-in strategies. Let’s work together on social software so that our customers can go back and forth between our systems.

Can we do that? I’d love to help if possible. I know the social software folks at Microsoft. They are listening to me. How about Google?

What do you think? Should we sit down and have some beers and see if we can work together to make the social software thing better? Or, are our customers going to be locked in 1996 forever?

Untangling the incompatibility mess would open up the possibility that social software becomes more like web services, as Soble points out. That might actually make them useful!

Neat idea. But I don’t see it happening. First off, MSFT and Google, as I pointed out earlier, have totally different kharma profiles. Folks probably won’t want to share their data across the divide. And second, well, corporations don’t change their DNA midstream. And I think both Google and MSFT’s DNA are too hardcoded for them to want to play nice with each other. But you never know…

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6 thoughts on “Can't We Be Friends?

  1. Well, so far no one has emailed me from any of the social software companies. Oh well. Is it Microsoft’s culture that’s the problem here? Or is it all the other companies? I don’t know until someone sends me email. I’ll even buy the beers.

  2. If I had to guess, I’d say 95% of the problem is Microsoft’s past behavior, not its culture. Actions, as well all know, speak louder than words. The phrase “embrace and extend” comes to mind here.

  3. Like I’ve learned in the past. You can either be part of the problem, or part of the solution.

    So far still no email from anyone who wants to work together on social software.

  4. Wasn’t this one of the motivations behind passport (aside from single sign on)? If not, it’s a very simple extension of it. I create a profile (passport), load it up with all of my personal data (we could talk about who stores all of this data and grants permission to services that request it but that’s another show), and then dole it out to each “me too” personal network social software thingy.

    TBH, who gives a crap about social networking software? Why not use this idea for something useful, like filling out personal information on the litany of forms in everyday life: health insurance enrollment, IRS W2, IRS 1040, college financial aid, etc. Anywhere I need to put my name, address, phone number I should be able to click a button to release information so I don’t have to write it down over and over again. And when I move i can just re-release the info to them again.

  5. Maybe there are some Googlefolks at ETech, and you can get started there. Otherwise, maybe you can connect to Yahoo…they must be cooking something up in the space…

  6. Yup, we’ll be there, be happy to meet.

    Craig, I agree. Wish that could happen too.