Open Social Kumbaya: Pass the API, please

by Marianne Richmond on November 2, 2007

Well honestly, the name Open Social sounds a bit more 1962 than web2.0…I am thinking church social and maybe Aunt Bee serving up the Kool-Aid and announcing in simple to understand terms, “everyone that joins our social will share the same hymnal .”


The announcement from MySpace for the Open Social went like this:” Our partnership with Google allows developers to gain massive distribution without unnecessary specialized development for every platform,” said Chris DeWolfe, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of MySpace. “This is about helping the start-up spend more time building a great product rather than rebuilding it for every social network. We’re pleased to collaborate with Google to establish a landmark standard for social applications.”

Or, said another way, the folks that write the programs for all those fun applications that you might be familiar with from say Facebook, can write them once and they can then run on any site that is openly social. This compares to the days before the Open Social when every social network had its own markup language.

As B.L. Ochman notes, “OpenSocial will let developers use Javascript and html code to write applications which are essentially widgets that will work on any website that chooses to implement OpenSocial. These applications will be able to access user profile data, friend lists, and friend-related notifications. And they can broadcast content across a wide number of sites simultaneously.”

OK, this is definitely not 1962.

Bad example though, because Facebook at this moment in time is not singing Kumbaya and according to Brandee Barker, Director of corporate communications at Facebook as quoted on TechCrunch:

“Despite reports, Facebook has still not been briefed on OpenSocial. When we have had a chance to understand the technology, then Facebook will evaluate participation relative to the benefits to its 50 million users and 100,000 platform developers.”

Along with Google and MySpace, Bebo, Ning, LinkedIn, SixApart and a vast collection of other social networking sites and developers are all signed onto Open Social. B.L. also highlights the importance of the fact that “every marketer who wants to stay relevant will need to start taking social networks very seriously indeed.”

One big question seems to be, will Facebook join Google’s attempt to out Facebook Facebook? Or as the New York Times puts it, “Google and Friends Gang up on Facebook.”

Charlene Li writes,” Facebook isn’t threatened — for now. Application developers are going to go to where the heat is, and that heat is red hot at Facebook…. Add on the third leg of the social app stool — monetization, which Facebook is set to announce Nov. 6th — and you have a developer’s dream. Any developer worth his/her salt is developing on the Facebook platform, trying to figure what works, what doesn’t. And because of this head start, developers will still develop for Facebook FIRST before developing for OpenSocial.”

So, take that Google. Or, at least for today. Of course Peter Kafka at Silcon Alley Insider does raise a good questions also: will any of this change the user dynamics? He writes, “Most people are on Facebook because their friends are on Facebook; not because they can throw sheep, turn people into zombies, etc. If you weren’t using Orkut, Ning or Friendster before, will a new set of apps make you use it now?”

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

vaspers aka steven e. streight November 7, 2007 at 5:35 pm

Valuable apps are important but responding to socnet member feedback is mandatory.

Twitter is so buggy, un-evolving, and disconnected from its user base, it makes me sick.

I’ve even Twittered to their developers about desired features (like an accurate “in reply to”, ability to direct a tweet to a specific tweet of a user, not @ going to their latest tweet), and they promise it’s coming, and it never arrives.

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