UPDATED 1 NOV 07: You should stop work and watch Kyle Ford's video about OpenSocial. Assuming this technology catches hold, we are observing a seismic event on the internet.
AND TO CELEBRATE GHOSTS in the tubes, today Google will let people peer deeply into the scary realms of OpenSocial networking. The announcement rumbled across the tubes of the internet around the time a small earthquake pulsated under the Googleplex, possibly because the revelation of Google's involvement in the technological side of social networking is part vapourware (the scale of Google's ambitions have not been successfully tried before), part embargo-busting (several tech bloggers were told that their coverage of OpenSocial MakaMaka was embargoed until early November). The press coverage dovetailed nicely into Euan Semple's related OpenBroadcast theme at the BBC.
OpenSocial (URL won't be live until early November) helps Google increase everyone's use of the web by hooking into established social networks such as Ning, Linked In, SixApart, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster and Orkut. OpenSocial makes easy work of creating a web presence for a machine (like a bus carrying a Nokia Series 60 phone while traveling on Irish roads). OpenSocial means people have another touchpoint to begin searching and that means another space on the web to place Google advertisements. OpenSocial means the appearance of my iGoogle page will change, possibly with the inclusion of an embedded social graph, similar to the details revelead by my Flickr DNA. I believe OpenSocial will make it easier for someone to clone themselves electronically, which is certain to rile some social networking purists. Adam Nash, senior product director for LinkedIn, offers a use case for OpenSocial APIs where the Conference Calendar grabs the industry information from a LinkedIn profile, associates relevant conferences and lists people from other social networks who will attend. This alone would save me countless minutes normally spent scouring hallways.
Google has defined a set of three common APIs that allow developers to access core functions and information at social networks, including these factors:
1. Profile Information (user data)
2. Friends Information (social graph)
3. Activities (things that happen, News Feed type stuff)
According to Marc Canter, hosts agree to accept the API calls and return appropriate data. Google won’t try to provide universal API coverage for special use cases, instead focusing on the most common uses. Specialized functions/data can be accessed from the hosts directly via their own APIs.
Mike Arrington -- "Details Revealed: Google OpenSocial to Launch Thursday"
Miguel Helft and Brad Stone -- "Google and Friends to Gang Up on Facebook"
Marc Canter -- "OpenSocial Details Coming Out"
Marc Andreessen -- "Open Social: a new universe of social applications all over the web"
Dan Farber -- "OpenSocial: What Does It Mean?"
Robert Scoble -- "Will Google 'Friendster' Facebook?"
John Battelle -- "Google Launches OpenSocial"
Danny Sullivan -- "Led by Google, Social Networks Band Together to Take on Facebook"