The Facebook is a "Walled Garden" meme continues today with a post from pal Robert Scoble that continues the assumption that all Facebook data is somehow "locked" into Facebook. Here's a quick snippet:

First, let’s go back to Facebook. Why does everyone say it’s a “walled garden?” Because you can’t get to data stored on Facebook unless you’re a Facebook member. Two days ago I did a video for Chris Pirillo on Facebook. Chris instantly got excited and wanted to share that with his blog’s readers. But he couldn’t. That video is locked inside Facebook’s walled garden. If you don’t have a key (a Facebook account) you can’t see it.

While Scoble is correct that Facebook's video application is locked inside their "Walled Garden", Facebook has provided, in my opinionthe most open social networking platform in existence and arguably the most open Web site today.

 

Way back in August 2006, Facebook announced the Facebook Development Platform, which they describe as

 "...a standards-based web service with methods for accessing and contributing Facebook data."

Facebook effectively added a door to their walled garden in August 2006 that any Facebook user or developer could use to pull data directly from their servers. They documented everything and even added a very nice query language (Facebook Query Language) to simplify and optimize accessing their data.

 

Assuming you opt-in to allow your data to be pulled (a one-time operation), you can pull a huge amount of Facebook data ranging from your network's friends, favorite books, current status (FacebookVision anyone?), events, photos, groups, and much more.

 

Scoble calls Facebook the new Rolodex. Well guess what, there already is a Facebook Rolodex-like application that's pulls data from that Walled Garden's door directly onto a desktop application. It's all part of the open source Facebook Developer Toolkit which makes it dirt-simple for .NET developers to pull Facebook data outside of the so-called Walled Garden. 

 

 

What about non-developers?

How would Scoble get data out of Facebook though since he's not a developer? Well, for one, any company or even a Facebook competitor could do this, but beyond that, you can use Popfly to, without a single line of code, pull your list of friends from Facebook. This isn't new, in fact Dan'l Lewin, Microsoft corporate Vice President discussed this exact scenario on stage with Mark Zuckerberg at the Facebook platform launch.

Still don't believe non-developers can do this? Then I suggest you watch my recently published shaky-cam video with Soma, the Vice President of Developer Division and his 14-year old daughter, Sahanna, showing how she can build applications using Facebook data with zero code.

 

And yes, I've sent an email to the Facebook development team asking them to expose the videos from their Video application through their API's too :)

 

Perhaps this will help better shine the light on all the cool stuff Microsoft's been doing with Facebook :)