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Google's OpenSocial Too Late To Be a Win? 82

Posted by Zonk
from the a-nice-way-to-have-a-chat dept.
DeeQ writes with a link to a post on News.com's social networking blog. Author Caroline McCarthy wonders if Google's OpenSocial initiative has missed its moment in the sun. It's been something like six weeks now since the search giant offered up its open-source social media initiative ... but where have been the usual swift victories? Moreover, OpenSocial isn't done yet, and it's not expected until sometime next year. In the meantime Facebook is capitalizing on Google's delay, and other networks are stepping in as well. "Kraus adds that some of the independent platform strategies would be necessary even if OpenSocial were finalized. One of them is LinkedIn's 'InApps,' which also aims to spread LinkedIn's data and influence outside the business-oriented social network through partnerships with other Web sites. 'OpenSocial so far is really about how developers embed their application into a social network,' Kraus explained. 'A good chunk of LinkedIn's APIs is about how LinkedIn extends their social-networking data into other sites.'"
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Google's OpenSocial Too Late To Be a Win?

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  • social web sites (Score:4, Informative)

    by boxlight (928484) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:52PM (#21700434)
    A year or so ago I started a myspace page just out of curiosity. I shut it down a couple months later because it really didn't do anything for me.

    A couple months back I got a facebook account, and while it's more functional that the myspace page, the vast majority of the content I see there is silliness and spam. I find the applications and installation stuff a annoyance. It's also not very customizable appearance wise. Other than an occasional vacation photo from a friend I rarely see, there's not much there that helps me. I'm considering canceling that too.

    What I'd really like is something like facebook that's pure communication function, and less gibberish and marketing. Actually, something like a web-based AOL could work -- email, chat rooms, IM, all built into one facebook-like web site. More elegant looking and customizable.

    Is that what OpenSocial is? I have not tried it.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:04PM (#21700594) Homepage Journal

    OpenSocial has to find its focus--it needs something to separate it from the other social networking sites beyond merely being a Google project.
    OpenSocial is an API, not a site. All the existing sites you mentioned, could use OpenSocial if they wanted to.
  • by blitzkrieg3 (995849) on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:08PM (#21700672)

    For it to work, OpenSocial has to find its focus--it needs something to separate it from the other social networking sites beyond merely being a Google project. If it doesn't, it's just going to go the way of Friendster--it'll be out there, but nobody will really be using it.
    I think you're really missing the point. Google wants all these different networks, that have different niches, to have access to each other. So now I'll still have a facebook for friends at school, a myspace for my band, and a flickr for photos, but I won't need to upload all my photos to EVERY website using they're own implementation of photos.

    There will still be different niches, but I'll be able to manage each of my different "personalities" (if you will) from one place.
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:12PM (#21700718) Homepage Journal

    how do they actually plan to lock in their position ?
    One and a half ways, as far as I can tell:
    1. If they can get multiple (popular) sites to use the same API, so that add-on developers only have to write one version of the code, then that creates a feedback loop. It makes site developers want to use the API in order to take advantage of existing add-ons, and it makes add-on developers want to use the API to take advantage of existing sites.
    2. The API is sold to the public as being for developers. But one of the things I quickly noticed about it, is that it's good for more than that. It's also great for crawlers. Why crawl a site and try to make sense out of their HTML structure, when there's an API call to get someone's friends list? If sites adopt this API, it will allow Google (not really lock-in; any other crawler could do it too) to make semantic sense of "social" websites, which happen to be popular. Maybe some day you'll be able to google "friends:El Cabri" and get all sorts of ideas for ways the info could be [ab]used. Crawling is part of Google's business anyway (they're a/the leader) so this could strengthen them.
  • Re:social web sites (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:22PM (#21700844) Homepage
    There is a third use for them that is related to the "keeping in touch with people." The little apps in Facebook act as a mechanism for maintaining social interaction, and allow managed cross-involvement between groups of friends. In other words, I can have my brother (in Texas) join me (on the West Coast) and a colleague (in New York) over a game of Scrabble, and chat with each other. Because it aggregates all your "social attention" in one place, it isn't like trying to cobble interest in one of a million "online scrabble" sites.

    And the "keep in touch" function isn't important for close friends: it's better for staying in touch with acquaintances and more distant friends, giving you a viable reason to drop a quick hello without the awkward "I know it's been years since we've chatted, but..." In the space between the deeply personal and the completely professional is a kind of sociability that is vital for many people's careers.
  • by tyroneking (258793) on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:30PM (#21700954)
    "There's a riff that OpenSocial could die on the vine," said Forrester Research senior analyst Jeremiah Owyang

    Riff? Die on the vine?
  • by aftk2 (556992) on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:34PM (#21701004) Homepage Journal
    I don't know - I was skeptical about Facebook's API when I learned that our company would be developing apps for its platform. But it's actually pretty impressive. You have several different views and footprints at your application's disposal, a number of different ways to promote your app, an easy route to making your application interactive (FBML) as well as more advanced methods (FQL, the web service API).

    Contrast that with OpenSocial. I recently wrote a white paper on it, which I wouldn't mind getting feedback on. It should make OpenSocial's strengths (and its significant weaknesses) pretty apparent:

    A First Look at OpenSocial [concretewebsites.com]
    Answering Questions About Google's Effort at Standardizing Social Network Widgets, and the Creation of Your First OpenSocial Widget .
  • by fczuardi (574719) on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:44PM (#21701146) Homepage
    ...that is also what OpenSocial is not. OpenSocial is a set of standard methods and libraries for app developers to ask one particular social network for information. It is a way to provide compatibility for social networks addons, not a place or central place for anything.
  • Re:social web sites (Score:4, Informative)

    by flyingsquid (813711) on Friday December 14, 2007 @04:51PM (#21702884)
    You can make similar complaints about using ANY new technology to socialize.

    Why text someone, when it's an idiotic substitute for an email? But why email them, when it's a lame substitute for calling them on the phone? Why call them on the phone, when you could just talk to the person face to face? And why on earth would you want to talk to the person, when you could socialize using old fashioned grunts and gestures, which worked perfectly well for our chimp-like ancestors?

    I guarantee that in a few years, some new technology will come along and people will use it to socialize. And there will be people saying, "Why would I want to use that newfangled technology to communicate with my friends, when I can use an old-fashioned social networking site?"

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