Since App.net was announced and launched there has been lots of talk about services as infrastructure – that is, decentralised and open protocols for common internet platforms. An often used example is what email or IM used to look like – a collection of fragmented platforms and standards that couldn’t talk to each other – the idea goes that Twitter, or rather the whole concept of microblogging itself, should be an open set of standards that no-one owned but anyone could build on.
I wonder if we could go even further though? Don’t we need standards for all kinds of digital publishing, storage and communication? Could we have an open standard for open standards?
I can think of a load of services which are suffering from fragmentation. Where I’m currently having to use more than one platform, or couldn’t easily switch providers if I decided to.
- Texting or short-messaging – think SMS, iMessage, BBM, Whatsapp
- Video calling – Skype, FaceTime, Facebook, Gchat
- Photo storage – Flickr, 500px, Google, Facebook
- Cloud storage – iCloud, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox
- Music library services – iTunes Match, Amazon Cloud Player, Spotify
And that’s not even mentioning identity.
Although perhaps maybe I should mention identity, because the slow progress and adoption of OpenID will perhaps give us an idea of how likely or quickly this could happen.