Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Google OpenSocial revealed

The news is out.

Techcrunch yesterday broke the news on Google OpenSocial, stated to go live tomorrow (Nov. 1st).

I first captured the news while walking to the bus, reading my morning tweets.
@jkuramot noticed how the news spread. Indeed - a blog search reveals a number of recent posts.
I also noticed that @jsmarr states that Plaxo is implementing the API.

So - what is this about?

OpenSocial is not another social network site.
It is partly capturing the need and discussion around the Social Graph, but goes beyond that.

The intention seems to create a common platform for developers that target SoNets (social networks). The API will publish a set of information from the SoNets that connects. Techcrunch mentions Orkut, Hi5, Plaxo, LinkedIn, Ning and a few others as initial partners.

Again, according to Techcrunch, the inital set of APIs will cover:

OpenSocial is a set of three common APIs, defined by Google with input
from partners, that allow developers to access core functions and information at
social networks:

  • Profile Information (user data)
  • Friends Information (social graph)
  • Activities (things that happen, News Feed type stuff)

So, for developers it will mean common way to develop applications and widgets for all major social networks (excluding Microsoft Live Spaces and Facebook, at least initially as it seems). Leveraging the data around a user, and making it easy to develop things that will work with more than one SoNet. This is mainly a value proposition for each SoNet towards the developers community.

I also expect that the participating SoNets will to some extent be able to interwork. Perhaps not to the extent that you can "friend" an Orkut user from LinkedIn initially, but let's see...

...and for the user?

Yes, what will it mean for the user? We will find out pretty soon I expect, as the first implementation goes live.

I personally hope that I finally will have a way to find my friends and connections across all social networks. In an easier way than by importing my address book. Ie solving, at least partly, the Social Graph problem.

No doubt that a number of interesting usages of this API will emerge the next few month.

But where is Google Contacts?

Still, this does not address the lack of a decent address book utility among the Google set of applications. That was my prediction earlier around the awaited Google move. Seems I was wrong?

This surprises me. Surely Google must have a plan for this area?

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