Mar 3, 2009

Emergence of OpenSocial for the Social Web

Social networking is all the rage. I personally belong to more than 17 such networks ranging from the archaic but trail blazing Yahoo Groups to the latest darling, Facebook. Let me whine again: I need a competent, flexible, customizable content aggregator!!!!!!

It seems that social media is following the normal growth path for new markets and technologies.
  • When a market or technology is new, players use 'walled gardens' to capture and defend market share. They use proprietary code, user interfaces, tools and of course content. An example is AOL during the first ten or so years of the public Internet.
  • As more players enter the growing market, product features and interfaces become increasingly varied and tools become simultaneously more capable and more complex. Examples are different social networking platforms optimize on selected capabilities. Socialtext does wikis well; Jive differentiates itself with its forum capability; WebEx seems optimized for realtime meetings and communications...
  • Despite a proliferation of ingenious dashboards, single (or limited multi-) function notifiers, and cross-platform tools, users want better productivity to manage identities, authentication, profiles, content and contacts.
  • Users now want interoperability, ease of use, standardized interfaces and the transcendence of 'walled gardens.' They also want to be able to selectively share a body of content.
  • Enter the "open" model. Open source, better DRM (digital rights management), not just interoperability, but overlap operability. We're seeing 'openess' emerge in the segments for routers, browsers and I hope soon, content.
Social Web Q&A with Google’s Kevin Marks is a good blog post that clearly outlines the Open Social initiative. It's a consortium of Internet players that intend to leverage existing code where possible, create open sourced tools where needed. They use the familiar 5 layer 'stack' as a conceptual model. The consortium is led by the most resource-rich player, Google. There's lots more detail and overall, is good news.

Read it, it's great.

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