Social Media – New Walled Gardens

In the early days of the Internet, the term Walled Garden was used to refer to private content areas, and the debate as to which content should be private and which should be public.  In those early days, Walled Gardens were seen as an differentiator… one might pay more for AOL than the local ISP if the unique content was of value, which led to the acquisitions of Compuserve and Time Warner.  The search driven Internet pushed Walled Gardens out, and free content in, and that has dominated for years…

But now, Facebook establishes a walled garden, with huge amounts of content only available to members, but interestingly, it’s all user generated.  Who would have thought that the users would support hidden content, but that is Facebook’s appeal.  I see what my friends are up to, they see what I am up to.  The fact that the content is only available inside of Facebook seems incidental, since my family photos are now private.

I see news articles posted by friends, and we openly comment on them, in a way, it’s like a miniature blog, only the content isn’t available to the outside web.  You need a Facebook account, and to by my friend to see it.

In technology, everything moves in trends.  The mainframe centralized computer system and the client server model of the 3270 Terminal (with a smart GUI viewer), moved to the minicomputer and the dumb terminal, we then moved to PCs with the power back at the terminal, to a network centric model (both the Winterm push in corporate environments, and browser-as-computer in the public one), to smart applications that talk via APIs back to the web-based systems.  Is there really that much of a difference between an iPhone application that connects back to a web service as a 3270 Data Entry screen that draws the interface locally and sends the data up the serial line?

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