The ClosedPrivate Initiative
Just another weblog


Tyler Willis has the inside scoop.  He’s wrong, but he’s on a track.  Not a particularly accurate one, but a track nonetheless.  Secret Islands in the Pacific shaped like skulls is a little closer.  Or closed.


While Amazon is trying to figure out whether or not to be OpenSocial, we welcome them to ClosedPrivate.


Every startup needs a t-shirt. We’ve got them here at ClosedPrivate. We can’t show you a picture of them, but I’ll give you a hint – they are black on black. They are $29.95 each.

If you want one, please leave a comment below with your name, address, credit card #, and social security number. We promise we won’t give out this information to anyone.


This weekend I was asked to present on the topic of ClosedPrivate vs. OpenSocial at a conference. Clearly, the organizers do not get it. ClosedPrivate isn’t a movement to be evangelized. It needs no evangelism. It stands on its own. I told this to the gentleman inquiring and said that I would not discuss ClosedPrivate. His response, I quote:

How do the things I want to keep private stay private and the things I want public get public and how do you make it easy to differentiate the gradients in between.

ClosedPrivate isn’t just about gradients. I’ve heard this before. While others speak of not requiring openness or transparency, but instead that an organization must be approaching openness and transparency with ClosedPrivate it’s important to note privacy and closed-mindedness is the goal that ClosedPrivate can help you attain.

There have been a lot of conversations where the CEO walked into the CIOs office and asked what is this ClosedPrivate thing, like they did 10 years ago about the internet, and what is our strategy? Three key questions:

  • Articulating the value — less concerned about hard ROI, but do want to know how to think about the value delivered
  • Help with selection decisions — how to differentiate among available tools
  • Help with deployment efforts — what is the playbook for ensuring adoption and exploitation

If you’re looking to deploy ClosedPrivate in the enterprise you need to develop models and frameworks, present theories to managers. A knowledge worker’s view of the enterprise has a group in which she has strong ties with. Far smaller than the 150 Robin Dunbar number. Then there is a larger group of weak ties, dispersed around the organization. Then there is the even larger group of potential ties, people who she could or should have a tie with. And, let’s not kid ourselves, there are people we have no need to connect with, or do we? In this bullseye picture, each ring as a different set of activities, and a prototypical technology to serve each ring. ClosedPrivate permeates all these.

At some point, there is a mashup to be done with this bullseye. This with ClosedPrivate will leverage a bifurcation of emphasis on the known and unknown. The implicit and explicit. With ClosedPrivate mapping tools one can tie strength to the threshold to prevent participation.

Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s really that simple. I mean really, if you don’t get this now–you will soon enough.


Yes, API has been proclaimed the king of the social web. But do you need it? Of course not!

Consider how APIs work.

You spend time luring users to your site. You create a hot site to make them create account. You make it really hot so that they bring their friends. You sit there and watch while their data flows into your database. And then?

You fall victim to the open API movement. Under the peer pressure, one day you wake up and decide to open YOUR data.  The data you spent days, weeks and even months collecting. The data you tricked people into giving you.

One day you go crazy and open it up.

The result? Thousands of ungrateful competitors descend on your site and eat your lunch. Eat YOUR data. For free.

What is wrong with you? Why would you do it?

For decades this industry prided itself on proprietary data. Silos thrived. And now you gonna change that? To fit into this so called social movement? To make your users happy? C’mon get real. Stop pretending like there is anything in it for you.

There is nothing. Zero.

We urge you to stand up and rebel against the APIs. More than that, make it so that even you can’t access the data that you collected. This is the only sensible thing to do. If you do not, there is a chance that a high school student will hack in, create an API and expose YOUR data.

Do not let this happen to you. Fire all the API lovers from your company today!


One of the guiding principles of ClosedPrivate is secrecy. No matter what, we won’t let you have access to your data, or anyone elses. We promise. We’ve spent many minutes figuring out the best approaches to this and when we actually roll out the spec (in private, of course) we’ll make sure we don’t do a good job of documenting how to not get access to your data.

Tim O’Reilly gets it and he calls out OpenSocial on their shortcomings around data. We love Tim but we know he’d hate ClosedPrivate due to his misguided view that it’s all about the data. Well, we didn’t ask him to be part of the club.


Kevin Marks from Google is up on stage discussing OpenSocial and walking us through a presentation.  He did a nice job defending himself from the hecklers in the crowd, especially the clueless VC ones.  He just said “privacy concerns” which reminds me that under the parameters of ClosedPrivate I need to stop talking about his presentation now.


The ClosedPrivate Initiative got nice coverage in GigaOM today.  While we appreciate the virtual ink, we still aren’t letting Om Malik join the initiative until he begs.  We might, however, let Anne Zelanka join if she continues to write nice things about us.


TechCrunch is reporting that OpenSocial was hacked again yesterday.  We challenge the OpenSocial hacker to give it his best hacking ClosedPrivate, especially since we’re not sure what exactly he’d hack.  I guess he could hack, the ClosedPrivate brother to the OpenSocialness of


Did you seriously think we were going to tell you anything useful? This is – after all – the ClosedPrivate Initiative. We are Closed and we are Private. You have to be a member to participate. Don’t be sad – there’s always OpenSocial.