I knew tech blogger Robert Scoble was influential, I just never knew how much until yesterday. Turns out his Facebook fiasco has led to the dawn of a "new age" in which competing social networks have come together to jointly support an initiative to make data portable.
Who would have ever conceived that the likes of Google, Plaxo and Facebook would ever sit down together, like knights at the Round Table, to discuss the creation of a set of best practices for open standards and interoperability? It took none other than Scoble, in suffering his unwitting gaff, to draw a sufficient amount of attention to the issue to catalyze such an event.
And who better? Scoble has spent the last several years (nine I think) building relationships across a broad spectrum of groups. He has been a charismatic example of what it means to live one's life out loud, in the open, utilizing virtually every form of online media to spread his message of technology evangelism.
It has bode well for him too. Legions follow Scoble wherever he goes. When he joined Facebook, for example, in no time he had reached the maximum limit of 5,000 connections. Who else does that?
I don't know what Scoble would characterize as the great moments in his life. Doubtless, Scoblegate, as its being referred to by the digerati, would not likely be one of them. Yet, could it be that this event may prove to be one of the signal moments in his storied career? The day when his misfortune ignited a movement toward the adoption of open standards and data portability. Maybe this was his "special purpose" and he didn't even know it!
If you think I'm being melodramatic (something my wife accuses me of all the time), listen to what PR blogger Brian Solis had to say: "This could very well be the first BIG story of 2008 as it's sure not only impact this year, but also years to come."
But the story doesn't end there...
What's not being talked about (at least in what I've read) and, yet, what should be is that this signals a positive shift in the direction of what Internet pioneer Sir Tim Berners-Lee called the Semantic Web, a time when machines will do the work of humans and information, including your social network profile, is freely accessible.
It's also a step toward the Web 3.0 - a term some conclude is synonymous with the semantic web - which technology entrepreneur Nova Spivack said would include such things as open data formats, technologies and open identity.
The next few years hold great promise in terms of turning all these digital "archipelagos" into a Pangaea, as a web developer friend of mine so aptly puts it. Sure, things may appear a bit chaotic at the moment, but consider this as a time of transition. Specs for how this should all work are being drawn up in real-time.
If nothing else, one thing is for certain. Scoble will be right up in the middle of whatever is going on doing what he does best - letting it all hang out in an open forum that the rest of us get to both learn from and enjoy watching.
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