Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

Is Facebook a walled tumblelog?

Quickest update (as of 6/29/007): Wow, this discussion just keeps going on and on… Earlier today, Steve Rubel thinks that Facebook is a walled garden and here’s a snippet:

That leads us to social networks and, in particular, Facebook. (I should preface this by adding that Edelman represents MySpace.)

Despite the age of openness we live in, Facebook is becoming the world’s largest, and perhaps most successful, walled garden that exists today.

Most social networks (which I am characterizing here broadly to also include sites like Flickr, Vox, and digg) let you determine what you share with the general public through Google vs. what you only share with your circle of friends. This level of flexibility is a win-win for everyone. If you don’t want to share anything you don’t have to. On the flip side, if you’re a voyeur, go for it.

For all of the excitement around Facebook and its application platform, it’s essentially a giant walled garden. You can embed virtually anything you want inside Facebook. Just like open APIs, Facebook’s developer program lets anyone create value in the ecosystem.

And, Jason Kottke concurs:

I’ve no doubt that Facebook is excited about their new platform (their userbase is big enough that companies feel like they have to develop for it) and it’s a savvy move on their part, but I’m not so sure everyone else should be happy about it. What happens when Flickr and LinkedIn and Google and Microsoft and MySpace and YouTube and MetaFilter and Vimeo and launch their platforms that you need to develop apps for in some proprietary language that’s different for each platform?

Quicker update (as of 6/25/007): Kent Newsome debates Facebook: the New Internet or gilded cage?:

Open API or not, there’s still a wall around Facebook. It’s hard to get data out of there and into the wild. As AOL found out, what people look at initially as a safe place to hang out can begin to look like a cage over time. I continue to believe that the blogosphere is the only network that matters, and that over time most people will elect to take control of their content and manage it via a wall-free platform. Anything that gets between a content provider and its users is by definition bad for the content provider. And there’s no need for a central registry of contact information- we have Google. Just do a search.

Quick Update: Feld Thoughts has stirred a mini-storm with his Facebook problem. His recent post summarizes what that problem with the new f8 platform is:

None of these Facebook apps developers are deriving any real benefits (if you are a Facebook apps developer and ARE deriving a tangible benefit, other than customer acquisition within the Facebook infrastructure, please weigh in.) In addition, Facebook has shifted all of the infrastructure costs to these apps developers, creating the “I have 250,000 users, now what?” problem.

On another note, I responded to Eric Schonfeld (Business 2.0) to his related post on Facebook:

Actually, I wrote a post on how I leverage Facebook for activities surrounding my social interests like movies or music and most f8 apps facilitate that.

However, LinkedIn focuses on helping me navigate my professional network and advance that part of my life; my career.

Having the two separate helps me better manage my already chaotic life!

Check out the TechMeme discussion or continue reading my original post below.

Ever since I spoke to Matt Cohler at the Web 2.0 Expo, I’ve been wanting to try Facebook and given the recent spurt in activity I’ve had a chance to try it out and notice that many of my friends are on it as well. Facebook is an interesting way to keep track of the various social activities that you’re passionate about and facilitates sharing that with your social network.

As an example, here are the activities in my life that Facebook allows me to keep track of and the f8 apps that facilitate it:

* Movies (f8 apps: Flixster and Netflix movies)

* Music (f8 apps:’s official app – love it)

* Photos (f8 apps: MyFlickr and ZuPort: Flickr)

* Politics (f8 apps: The Compass, Elections 08, Obama)

* So, Movies + Music + Photos + Politics + any f8 app you can throw into the mix = Mini-feed (yes, that controversial mini-feed)

An evolved walled tumblelog?

Think of the mini-feed as the evolution of twitter. So, in twitter you were hooked onto the various minutiae of your social network’s lives, on Facebook you do something similar, but a little bit more organized and richer. Well, let me back up here. Think of Facebook as an evolved tumblelog. So, what’s a tumblelog you may ask.

Jason Kottke, one of my favorite non-marketing bloggers, defined tumblelogs in 2005:

A tumblelog is a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered links style linklog but with more than just links. They remind me of an older style of blogging, back when people did sites by hand, before Movable Type made post titles all but mandatory, blog entries turned into short magazine articles, and posts belonged to a conversation distributed throughout the entire blogosphere

…really just a way to quickly publish the “stuff” that you run across every day on the web. (Source: Wikipedia)

And, that’s exactly what Facebook is. Just better than the tumblelog definition above and far more effective, except that it’s a walled tumblelog. So when bloggers like Kent Newsome wonder why Facebook is better than blogging:

What is so much better about Facebook (and MySpace and other similar platforms) than an ordinary blog on a popular platform- say WordPress?

The answer, as Dare Obasanjo surmises, lies in Facebook’s richer solution a.k.a the tumblelog, but the dilemma is that it’s a walled tumblelog. So, there are really two answers: if your blog is a personal, social interaction tool that you use to communicate to a closed circle of friends then you’re better off with Facebook. It’s apparently WAY better than MySpace. On the other hand, if you’d prefer a public (maybe career focused) blog that helps define your online brand then Facebook cannot replace that. However, Facebook allows you to import your blog and share it with your social network through a feature called “Notes”. Nice!

(Disclosure: I work for LinkedIn, the professional networking site)

Filed under: Facebook, Tumblr

5 Responses

  1. […] Mario Sundar Filed under Blog by Permalink • Print • Email Related EntriesWill Evan make […]


  2. I use LinkedIn for connecting with investors and high profile business people and entrepreneurs.

    I use Facebook because it’s absolutly the best social network to connect with my friends and family and connect with other people with whom I share specific intrests like surfing, marketing, property, … Through ‘notes’ these connections can keep track of my blog, which is my ‘brand’. I’m also on MySpace to connect with people in the surfing industry, like surf companies, music producers, artists, … The only thing I hate about MySpace is that users can play around with html. But with the new apps build for Facebook (integrating your flickr pictures into slideshow, posting your blog content through notes, digg, youtube, skype,,, iTunes, Gmail, PayPal !!!!!!!) … let’s face it, currently they are hard to beat. I’m sure Facebook will grow fast to reach the same amount of users as MySpace. I wish them all the best ! They deserve the number one spot.

    For branding blogging is the way to go,and there’s only one platform that does the job. We all know it’s Or if you don’t want to pay a few dollars a month for hosting with a company like LunarPages. If your brand isn’t worth a domain name, you will be better of with an account on LinkIn and Facebook (for the friends and business contacts that you know on a personal level)

    I still think think RSS is the most important app around these days …
    and the real webrevolution will start when everybody has a mobile office (read an iPhone).

    I’ve been a pioneer in streaming video on the web. Apple featured us on, 5 years before YouTube, we had the same concept but our investor decided we were too early on the market. Still the video quality we were able to broadcast online was way better then youtube now. I can’t wait for that quality to improve (HD anyone). Especially now that webtv is no longer fiction. Because with iTV from Apple Inc. you’ll be surfing on your HD plama or HD TFT screen, watching the entire youtube collection … When this starts to happen on a mainstream level, that’s when webtv is finally arrived …


  3. […] trackback Kevin Rose of Digg fame is out with an interesting side project. Last week I wrote about how Facebook is probably a walled tumblelog, given its ability to mash your social interests ranging from movies to whatever into one very […]


  4. […] a few of these entertaining social apps over on Facebook. As I’d blogged before, I find their movie, music and some of the random leisure apps quite fascinating. Jeremy’s initiative, AppRate, reminds me of a cross between Appsaholic (a Facebook stats […]


  5. […] while back I’d asked whether Facebook is a walled tumblelog, and since then Tumblr has taken off in a big way. I mean, BIG way. Tumblr has established itself […]


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