Thursday, December 13, 2007

OpenSocial Alliance is here. Social Internet has changed.

It was just the end of October this year when we learned about another open standard alliance led by Google a move that was described as a "FaceBook killer". OpenSocial provides a common set of Application Interface (API) tools for social applications across multiple websites. With standard JavaScript and HTML, developers can now create rich interactive web applications, accessing data from other social networks, update feeds and create new mashed-up content.

Aiming for every social driven and user generated content website out there to implement the new standards, the OpenSocial alliance seek to change the way people are interacting with each other on the internet by removing some of the boundaries set by a chaosed freedom and commercial interests. Websites already implementing the new OpenSocial tools include highly popular websites such as MySpace,, Friendster, hi5, LinkedIn, Ning, Oracle and Orkut. Members of the alliance also include Plaxo,, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, XING and many others. See them all here or check on the video below for interviews with some of OpenSocuial early industry adapters.

Google’s own social network, Orkut, is of course the one that Interests them most but a-la Google's style this is used mainly to give (a limited sandbox for OpenSocial development) rather than take (users from other websites by closing their cross platform communications capabilities). Furthermore, unlike Facebook which uses a proprietary language for their widgets, once you chose developing your new widget with OpenSocial you are totally free to use the best stuff Internet has to offer nowadays including Flash, html and javascript, or in other words - Ajax.

Even though latest figures show the impact on FaceBook's application market is yet minor, the OpenSocial alliance is just one of those things we can't understand how they did not exist until they did and it seems that Google just changed the rules of the game once again. Social Internet has changed. Adding the numbers and including the vast member pool of MySpace - FaceBook's mightiest competitor and an avid OpenSocial integrator - we get a "completely different picture of the combined OpenSocial sites compared to Facebook". A swift look at the above chart posted about a month an a half ago by Bill Tancer, General Manager of Global Research at Hitwise, tells the whole story in short: FaceBook - you took the closed course and got knocked out by the open one. Just like your Microsoft partner.


  1. I call it the big brother of social networks.

  2. And how it will effect private users ?

  3. Cooper: I think you are getting this wrong but it's my fault. I must have failed to explain the main point here: this is exactly the opposite than big brother, even though it depends how you define things. I would say big brothers don't like their technology be open and use open standards. It used to be better to force users into the borders of company's own domain by keeping everything closed to communications with any external services.

    Some companies still use this approach. Others, like Google, promote open standards and cross-platform communications. Big brothers don't like that to happen.

    Alex: imagine you could have freely and seamlessly communicate with your stumbleupon friends while you are logged into Digg or that using Google for search would have been integrated with your Technorati's favorites.

    There are endless of possible implementations and only time will tell. The important thing is that the social internet arena will start going through the long process of standardization. It's a bit of a futuristic thing but I believe future is as much important as the present :)

    Thanks a lot to both of you for contributing.

  4. Good morning Gil !

    In a quick exchange on StumbleUpon about OpenSocial I expressed some concerns on the potential for an expanding bigbroderness (?) of Google.
    No doubt I can agree with you that the definition of open standards based on broadly used technologies (html & JS) seems, as in many choices taken by G management, among the cleanest paths towards effective circulation - read 'freedom' - of information that such a management could take.
    In fact, to be honest, I could easily imagine myself standing on the side I see you taking now, maybe reasoning about the enormous range of possibilities open API offer and probably remembering what a difference open software & a nice capital can make (I'm thinking about my favorite offline app ever - Firefox - :) ).

    Being forced ;) to take the other side, anyway, I'd say that going open is the path of least resistance


    'the whole story in short: FaceBook - you took the closed course and got knocked out by the open one. Just like your Microsoft partner.'

    and a killer marketing choice for a company that already somewhat controls a good part of internet traffic.
    I would affirm that, numbers being what they are, probably whatever choice G had taken in the social networking arena (the acquisition of Orkut wasn't enough Googlish - read 'global') my anarcho-antennas would have begun to flash and shake nervously. That simply because G is the giant it is and in our global economic system public interest, structurally undefendable by law, is in the hands of private actors.
    Just one of many paradoxes of the information age I guess (a global-public interest showing its concreteness thanks to an economic globalization based on capitalism).

    That said, I like OpenSocial and Google. Once again this nice company seems to be walking on the edge of modernity, and I should probably first try to stand in their shoes if I were to make a judgement.

    Thanks & have a wonderful day :)
    Giulio (Jahnny@SU)

    - - -

    is G loosing ground in the Search Engine race ? (compare search results - it's interesting)

    Semantic Web Search #1

    Semantic Web Search #2

    Semantic Web Search #3

    Isn't google about semantics enough ?

    [ Attribute "TARGET" is not allowed: [lessthan]a href="" target="_blank"[morethan] :-( ]


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