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Silo-free everything
By Dave Winer on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 11:26 AM.

Interesting piece on TechCrunch today about Instagram blocking a scraper that turns its data flow into RSS. Here's what I would do if I were Instagram and wanted to fend off competition from the open web on one side, and Twitter on the other. permalink

Never mind the obvious neener neener angle (RSS is like an infection, just saying it's gone isn't the same as it being gone). This is interesting because it gives us a way to create a contrast with what Instagram does and a similar "silo-free" service. permalink

1. Offer the user the option to store their pictures in an S3 bucket or an FTP site, or do a deal with Dropbox and have an option to store the pictures in the user's public Dropbox folder.  permalink

2. Also write an RSS feed to that folder that anyone can subscribe to if somehow they can find their way to it. permalink

A picture named silo.gifThis is good for a couple of reasons.  permalink

1. It gets rid of some nasty potential competition. permalink

2. It helps develop new systems for feed discovery. permalink

3. It builds independence of Twitter, now, while they still have the market relatively to themselves. It will all change, dramatically, when Twitter introduces its own picture-sharing, integrated with their iPhone and iPad apps. The iPhone camera will appear to be part of Twitter. permalink

One way or another, the time to bootstrap silo-free picture sharing is now. permalink

PS: Refer to the schematic. Instagram is one of the etc's on the left side of the diagram. permalink

PPS: I wrote this quickly before heading out for lunch uptown. Please read it with considerable slack-cutting. :-) permalink

PPPS: The mistake my VC friends make is they think it's either/or. Either you support the open web and are a charity, or you build a silo, monetize it, and get rich. What really happens is that the silos are eventually undermined by the open web. This happens when the market is choked with startups with nothing to lose. Some of them are going to successfully differentiate by offering users freedom. We're coming up to the part of teh cycle where the users value it. The opportunities to lock-in will come again, but first this cycle has to complete.  permalink

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