Can OpenSocial Live up to the Hype?

This is my fourth post talking about Google OpenSocial, as it seems there are constant updates being streamed into my feeds and email inboxes. So. A recent article is talking about how Tim O’Reilly, the person who coined the term “Web 2.0,” has declared OpenSocial a “full blown disappointment” on his blog, O’Reilly Radar (Read the post where he discusses his disappointment here.)

Apparently, OpenSocial wasn’t just intended to be something to help programmers plug their applications into all participating social networks, as I had originally thought. It seems as if Google had alluded to the fact that programmers would be able to interact with participating social networks via one social network. For example, a Bebo account could be accessed via MySpace through an application using the OpenSocial code. But according to Tim O’Reilly’s reporting of the discussion that took place at the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin on Monday (November 5th). In his own words:

“My disappointment with OpenSocial was crystallized by an exchange between Patrick Chanezon, Google’s developer advocate for the program, and an audience member at the OpenSocial session at Web 2.0 Expo Berlin. The audience member asked something about building applications that can remix data from the participating social networking platforms. Patrick’s answer was along the lines of: ‘No, you only have access to the data of the individual platform or application.’ “

So that brings up the question…why should users really care about OpenSocial? How is it going to help us? We already know how its going to help programmers- they only have to write a program once in order to plug it into and work with all of OpenSocial’s partners. But, if it’s not going to change the way that the end-user interacts with and uses social media, what is the big fuss?

I would greatly encourage all that are interested in this topic to read Tim O’Reilly’s post on this matter here. As the “inventor” so to speak, of the Web 2.0 concept, he really is the person to go to on the evaluation of new ways to increase the adoption of Web 2.0 programs and ideas. Also, he speaks in a language that is very non-technical and easy for anybody to understand.


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