Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nerd Word of the Week: Openwashing

Open SignImage by trawin via FlickrOpenwashing (n.) - Portraying a product or technology as open when in fact it's closed and proprietary. Yet another play on the notion of whitewashing, applied to open source and open standards of technology.

I bring it up because: Facebook is trying to brazenly openwash itself again, this time with the Open Graph Protocol. The OGP is open in the sense that you're free to share data with Facebook, and Facebook might share data with its partners, but all the data belongs to Facebook and only businesses that play by Facebook's rules can get at it. That's not an open protocol; that's a cartel. The OGP is also open in the sense that your Facebook friends can now share data about you unless you explicitly forbid it, which takes some doing. Doc Searls reminds us that we've seen this kind of openwashing before -- Microsoft called it Hailstorm/Passport -- and it didn't work. Sun Microsystems was also a victim of its own openwashing. Maybe the same will be true this time, but I wouldn't bet on it. Regardless, just because you call yourself open doesn't make it so. Beware of CEOs bearing (open) gifts.