The Effect of Open Social

Although articles leading up to the reveal of Google’s Open Social predicted a big splash, it seems the new initiative has made no more than a small ripple. Initially, I wasn’t even sure what the benefit to us, the consumers, would be, from this new program. Now, that I have a better idea of what the concept is, I can predict that Open Social WILL eventually make a big splash. However, the splash will move in slow motion, and the stone that made the splash will be the use of applications (or widgets) in social networking in general, and not credited towards Open Social.

Applications (also known as widgets): an embeddable piece of code written in HTML, Javascript, Flash or another programming language that can be attached to a webpage, or profile in a social network. Examples of applications in the social network Facebook include: iLike, Super Wall, and X Me.

For those who are still unfamiliar with the concept of interest, Open Social has a very recent Wikipedia entry that you can continue to visit in order to keep up with the story as changes are made and issues arise. Open Social, defined, is a set of common APIs (Application Program Interfaces), or codes, designed specifically to work with most social networks. Basically, OpenSocial is a tool for programmers, making it easier for them to build an application in ONE code and use the same code for the application in the 26 companies that have signed up to be a part of this Google initiative. The current industry leader, MySpace, is within these 26 social networks, but its close competitor, Facebook, is not.

I’m wondering if Facebook will eventually join the bandwagon. As pointed out by Shel Holtz in his article today, “The Sound & Fury of Open Social,” Facebook has done a great job of staying out of the Google-sphere, keeping its profiles and networks off of the Google Search Engines, as well as denying participation in personalized Google Ads. Holtz also pointed out that it is rumored that Facebook was not invited by Google to join this initiative.

Is Google trying to phase out Facebook? And if they are, is this really the right way to go about it? Users of Facebook typically are not using the social network because of its applications. Even if they were, users don’t care if they’re written in an open or proprietary, or Open Social compatible, format.

So again I ask, what effect will OpenSocial have on us, the consumers? It will allow smaller social networks that currently do not have the capability to support applications the sophistication to do so. However, in Mr. Holtz’s words:

“Open Social applications on crappy social networks won’t make them any less crappy or more attractive.” The Sound & Fury of Open Social, Paragraph 8

To follow the Google OpenSocial Story, be sure to visit the following links:


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