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[Myexperiment-discuss] Facebook application platform

From: Steve Pettifer
Subject: [Myexperiment-discuss] Facebook application platform
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2007 09:32:56 +0100

One thing I suppose we should be considering, or at least have a good answer somewhere obvious as to why-not, is the facebook application developer platform.

Just in case someone hasn't come across it, facebook is yet-another social networking site. However, unlike myspace, it seems reasonably well controlled, and is a bit more 'serious/professional' (i.e. it's not covered in insane textures, and doesn't play Your Favourite Mp3 as soon as you look at someone's page -- though i've just noticed someone has added an application that allows you to throw pies at your friends, so maybe not that serious...). It seems slightly more aimed at adults rather than just teenagers, but isn't quite as dull and specific as something like It also has a _lot_ of good functionality on the social side (and there are a surprising number of manchester CS people on there already!), and in particular what seems like a very sane API for adding in one's own applications for sharing stuff. The API is there to allow you to embed your own services in the facebook pages; storing and retrieving data can be from any server / system you like I believe.

So the question is... Why are we going to the effort of building all the social networking side for myExperiment, rather than exploiting what's already there in facebook (or other) and adding in the scientific part. The obvious advantage of the facebook approach would be that there are already a large number of users, and we'd get a whole bunch of stuff for free. Obvious disadvantages are it's not as well branded as being 'us' (we'd become an application within an existing social networking system), and there may well be practical/ technological reasons why we can't do it (though at a first few- minute scan of the architecture, i'm not sure there's anything too scary in there to stop us).

Apologies if this is a well rehearsed argument that i've missed...


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