On Medium: If We Can’t Have An Open Web I’ll Take An Embeddable One

Originally published on Medium here.

On Monday Google+ joined Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr and others in offering embedding options, allowing people to take what someone else — be they another individual or a brand — has published on Google+ and embed it elsewhere.

This is, in and of itself, a great development, particularly when coupled with the other announcement that users of WordPress.com, TypePad and other platforms can now automatically share their posts on their Google+ Profiles. All of these social networks making easy tools for sharing content posted to them elsewhere is at least half an acknowledgement that there is a web outside of their walled gardens.

But the overall philosophy behind those walled gardens is still very much in effect in that, outside of a few deals this network or that has brokered, most everything that’s posted to them is invisible to search.

Search was the foundation of the early social web and everyone at the time understood the importance of open standards that would allow the burgeoning platforms and tools to talk to one another. It was all about what was happening on-domain, with links from one site to the other being the primary currency people traded in, with all those links impacting search results.

So we’ve moved from an open web that was fueled by the sharing of links and open standards to one that is much more closed and insular but which has started to show early notions of realizing that the networks we all are on are not the end-all-be-all. And that’s a good thing.

I think anyone — at least anyone who’s been involved in the social media world since before 2008 — would agree that openness is the best of all options. Let everything be open to search, let links shared on Facebook and elsewhere be indexable and count toward search placement, let us post from anywhere to anywhere. This isn’t a nouveau-hippie call for everything to be free, man. This is about continuing to build the web and use links as the foundation instead of seeing it all become so transient and flimsy, with Twitter posts here one minute and completely forgotten the next.

But, barring that, the next best option is giving people the ability to say “Oh hey, that’s cool, I’m going to put that on my Tumblr/WordPress/whatever site and show it off.” Embed-love is second only to link-love since it allows Platform A to talk to Platform B in an open and efficient way. It’s nice to see more networks embracing that notion and, at least partially, taking a step back to a more open web.