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WebRTC: Facebook can’t be happy

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

why-is-everyone-on-the-internet-so-angry_1While much of the WebRTC discussions have centered around new and nearly no cost ways for voice and video communications to happen. Not as much attention has been paid to discussions around the data channel. Dean Bubley’s was early in his assessment that the most powerful element of WebRTC might well be the data channel.

Xerox was one of the early proponents of client-server architectures in the 1970’s and for nearly 40 years, that’s been the architecture of choice. ¬†Perhaps this architecture is starting to show it’s age. In recent years, there’s been much talk about machine-to-machine communications but outside of a few specialty applications, it’s been more hype than reality.

New technologies like openpeer and peerjs threaten the entire notion of client-server into a world of client-client. Over the last years, the client has taken more and more authority on how communications will occur and WebRTC certainly is accelerating this with the idea that the client is the server as well. Like all new technologies, there will be new winners and old losers.

Facebook must be concerned. They offer a 1-size fits all for social networking with utter control over every aspect. Initially, it was fun, novel, it worked and it was secure. But the interface has gotten cluttered, flexibility limited and as we become more comfortable their cocoon like security may well be suffocating.

Facebook is starting to look more like the AOL of Social Networking

For several years, various groups have experimented with peer-to-peer social networking. These were novel science experiments without much merit and frankly difficult to implement and languished in obscurity.

With WebRTC, we will see not 10’s but perhaps 100’s of groups attacking these new modes of P2P social networking using the readily accepted WebRTC data channel. ¬†This sets up for a perhaps a new network architecture of client-client with a back-up server acting as my client when the primary is not available.

Once again, Google is behind the scenes waving their dagger. Google Hangouts, while novel, has been mostly a big yawn. Trying to outdo Facebook with an improved version of Facebook simply lacks the oomph to move this forward. Harnessing a multitude of ant developers to chase this using the WebRTC data channel sounds like a better approach.

So big surprise, all of the old guard are down playing the new game in town, but make no mistake, the game is on.