The Web vs FacebookMost people on the planet don’t use Facebook. There are over 2 billion people using the Internet around the world. About a quarter of them have a Facebook account, sure – a significant wired segment – but that is still not ‘most’ people.

I recognize the pitfalls that Tim Burners-Lee warns of a return to walled gardens: like the old days of AOL and Compuserve curating content for the masses of users who don’t know how to explore the web.

Take a look at the illustration at right. As you can see, for all the Social Graph talk of openness, most Facebook content is inaccessible and useless to non-members.

Curation vs. Openness
I’m not against curation or customized content; as the web grows in size the need for help navigating information will also grow. Think about reading news today: web users don’t have time to peruse a dozen great newspapers and even more great blogs, so they increasingly look to automated aggregators like Google News and PopURLs, crowdsourced aggregators like Reddit, Digg, and Hacker News, or targeted curators like HuffPo and TheBrowser, or trusted suggestions directly from friends on Twitter and Facebook. What bothers me is the herd mentality that comes with fewer sources of input – you end up knowing primarily the same information as those in your circle of friends and sites you visit. For me, I guess “surfing the web” is a romantic ideal I can’t let go of; I enjoy finding obscure information that will never exist inside Facebook, and likely couldn’t access that information even if it did because I’m not the right person’s friend.

How I use Facebook as just another publishing channel
This leads me to a limited view of utility for Facebook. It’s a great way to connect with my friends, and I want to make it easy for them to access content I produce and publish on the web. All of my photos, videos, status updates, blog posts, and other content are primarily published on web services, open to all, and shared on Facebook as one distribution channel:

Primary Open Web Services (viewable to web) …
… Publish to closed or gated sites:
Ping.fm (multi-network posting)
Status Updates and Microblogging 

Twitter – Microblogging and conversation

Flickr – Photo stream and archive

Vimeo and Youtube videos

WordPress, Joomla (web CMS tools)
Long form writing, published as web content

Foursquare – Location / check-in data

Status to Twitter, resyndicated via RSS & widgets 

Status to Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIN, Plaxo

Posts to Blogger, WordPress, out again via RSS

Posts to Facebook Notes via WordPress App

Photos to Flickr stream, out via RSS, widgets

Photos to Facebook via Facebook Flickr App

Videos to Facebook as Facebook Vimeo App

Content syndicated to various sites via RSS feeds

Most of my content is still “in the cloud”, but I try to keep the primary publishing located in parts of the cloud that are open and part of the wider web. Facebook is a secondary place to publish for me due to it’s gated design. That’s my take on personal publishing and Facebook right now. Comments?