John Herrman digs into the announcement of Facebook Instant with some interesting observations, like this:
Now that we can see Instant in action, we can more clearly see what constitutes a publication on a Facebook-centric internet. A Facebook publication is… a brand? A “vertical?” It doesn’t own its distribution, it doesn’t meaningfully control its sources of revenue. It has no “design” outside of its individual articles. It is composed entirely of its content, as represented to Facebook users by Facebook.
The history of software and web platforms is instructive here: Platforms grow by incorporating the labor of users and partners; they tend, over time, to regard the presence of the partners as an inefficiency. Twitter asks developers to make a bunch of apps using its data, so people make a bunch of mobile apps, then Twitter notices that these apps are actually very important to Twitter, and so Twitter buys one of the apps and takes steps to expel all the other apps, rendering the job of “Twitter app developer” more or less obsolete.
The whole thing is worth a read if you are even mildly curious about online media trends.
It has been interesting to observe reactions to Facebook Instant among media outlets, as they are of course immediately affected. The common sentiment seems to be cautious pessimism with a tinge of envy among those not included in the initial roll-out.