LinkedIn has announced an API to be released within 9 months. It’s already been expressed that 9 months is too far off, and frankly, a nearly 1 year response to a strategic move by a so-called competitor (that’s facebook, apparently) is straight up, unacceptable.
Hang on a second. what do facebook and linked in have in common? They both run in the “social networks” crowd, though I’ve never considered one userbase to mirror another. Lets take a look.
Facebook has been, through all of it’s incarnations, fairly “real time” due to the nature of it’s users and the way that they used the environment. Their profile reflected their favorite movies/music/books NOW. Their wall reflected commentary from friends from the previous week’s events. Their photos were tagged from the previous nights’ social event (with or without the obligitory red solo cups). Even the pre-twitter “status” line that asked what you were up to, though it never caught on as heavily as twitter, reflected “now” events. And the connections between one person’s “now” events and another person’s “now” events.
LinkedIn, though “social” in nature, had a niche in business rather than social record-keeping. Like a mix between a social network and a self-evolving AddressBook, the real value in LinkedIn was to keep the contacts that you already had in it, and let them update their own contact info, new and old work places, promotions, etc. But due to the less regular updating (at least I HOPE someone isn’t putting new stuff into their LinkedIn profile every 3 days. Thats a lousy employment turnover), I don’t find myself going back to LinkedIn looking for new information once an hour like many FacebookAddicts do. I don’t even find myself on LinkedIn once a day. Or even week. I don’t think I EVER go back looking for people. The only times I go to LinkedIn and log in are when it notifies me that someone has updated their info. When a new related contact is available. It’s a very reactive relationship, versus the addictive/proactive nature of Facebook.
So where does this API fit in? Is linked in going to create a marketplace for apps based on a userbase that, with the exception of recruiters, uses the network more reactively than proactively? That seems like a waste of 9 months, to me.
On the other hand, if it’s the resume data they are looking to make more portable, I’m all for it. But wait, it already is. Thanks to the implementation of the hResume microformat, each of over 11 million resumes is marked up for data portability (or at least a working draft of the model). What would be way sweeter than an API that takes 9 months to crank on? Smarter imports/exports using microformats. I’m looking at the Dopplr friend importer that uses hCards, and even the Satisfaction account creation tool. Both of these flows use existing data, and presumably could keep one set of data up to date based on another.
Based on the proof-of-concepts in both of these hCard tools, it becomes clear that these flows actually can work. This, in my opinion, should be much less complicated to do than an after-the-fact API and can be baked pretty quickly with the already existing technology. I think that LinkedIn would benefit greatly from making a DIFFERENT strategic move than Facebook as response, especially if their goal is to promote more pro-active usership to grow from the current re-active tools. After all, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
[tags]hresume, linkedin, facebook, microformats, social networks, api[/tags]