Open-standards advocate Monica Keller leaves Facebook, joins Socialcast

Facebook’s efforts to raise its reputation for technological openness suffered a blow with the departure of Monica Keller, a well-regarded program manager for open Web standards whose career at the company proved short-lived.

Keller left Facebook on Friday and is joining Socialcast, a San Francisco-based startup which focuses on social-networking tools for business collaboration, the companies confirmed to VentureBeat over the weekend.

For Facebook, a public perception that it adopts and supports open standards helps in several ways, from wooing third-party developers to recruiting engineers who may be reluctant to work on proprietary technology. That’s likely why it recruited Keller from MySpace in February.

Specifically, the company is hoping that software developers and Web publishers will adopt its Open Graph API, a tool for connecting websites to Facebook’s lists of friends and collection of preferences or “likes.”

In a statement, Facebook said it “wished [Keller] well” but did not comment on the reason for her departure. A source familiar with Keller’s thinking said she clashed with David Recordon, Facebook’s senior open programs manager, on its philosophy of building software quickly without explicitly supporting open standards from the beginning.

Facebook’s engineering department cultivates a culture of fast experimentation. Its motto is “Move fast, break stuff” — in other words, write code swiftly to test new ideas and features, without getting wrapped up in concerns over how it may interact with other systems.

But that breaking-stuff ethos may conflict with the caution inherent in working with open standards, which require a high level of compatibility with software written by others.

Keller will now have an opportunity to test Facebook’s commitment to openness from the outside. Socialcast said she will lead its implementation of Facebook’s Open Graph API throughout its Enterprise Activity Streams, a technology which brings real-time data from social networks into businesses’ daily work.

[Photo: Adam Tinworth]


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