A couple of thoughts on how federation worked in previous times. +Tom Coates
's arguments are good, here is some older background on how this worked previously and how it might evolve.
With the mobile/cell phone providers the federation allowed them to extend their market, people were already paying for this service, SMS messages are a chargeable service, so this was financial reconciliation, which required federation and network interoperability to work. It wasn't as simple as lets federate, there was a strong financial motive behind it. I've been using a cellphone since 1996, but I seem to remember much of the advertising was about percentage coverage of the UK population, then it slowly shifted from 'we're the biggest' to we have lowest cost/most minutes. So federation / interop led to a cost based drive to the bottom, which maybe wasn't in everyones best interests. Later working in advertising with Ericsson, around 2000 the conversation was about driving up the ACPU, the amount of money each person spent per month. 3G was seen as the saviour allowing many more things to be sold. Then there was a realisation that these phones could be computers and if that was true why couldn't they just use the internet. So another drive to the bottom in terms of pricing plans for data. Aided greatly by Apple setting the unlimited tariff with the first iPhone.
A similar case can be made for interbank reconciliations at the end of the day, the development of SWIFT, CHAPS and BACS systems reduced the cost of bank clearances and allowed more use to be made of the dormant money during the night. 30 million at 2%, even overnight is worth something.
Ease of use / payment led to the creation of VISA, which now is so disliked by the banks, due to the transaction percentage strangle hold that it has, that they are desperately for another way of making transactions work online, eg ISIS, Square and the rise of Paypal for high st transactions.
Each of these stories has a financial motive in place, this is just not true for federated social networks, unless we start reconciling data sent and received. So federation and standardisation led to lots of money being made, as there was already money moving around. It also led to static business models, as there was lots of money being made. Banks and telcos are not on most people's good players lists. (+JP Rangaswami
, +Kevin Marks
- any thoughts)
Federation on the web is a lovely idea, but it lacks the financial drivers as previously to generate stable businesses to make this happen. I suspect that a tablet or smart phone client will be the key to resolving this. Why? A touch screen device forces minimal number of screens and clearer ui. There is an option to pay for the client, built in too. There are dozens of aggregators already, but aggregation is arguably the easy aspect of this. I think we'll start to see limited federation on certain aspects, rather than whole "this is federation" services. Comments, address books, favourites all can be pulled at the moment, but they can also sync or be pushed back to the source. So we won't see big bang interop as we saw with the telcos and banking systems. There are too many companies involved with no financial gain to be had by that. However a unique feature here and there will lead to more interop and a more federated web, though this might take the rest of this decade to happen.