OpenSocial Primer – Because the Web is Better When It’s Social

Google (and others) made a huge splash on October 31st with their announcement about the new OpenSocial alliance. This blog post is a compilation of insights and links to what some of the leading voices are saying about OpenSocial.

What is OpenSocial? Essentially, OpenSocial provides the ability for companies to extend their website experiences to existing communities on popular social networks using mini-applications. The official word according to Google is that “OpenSocial provides a common set of APIs for social applications across multiple websites. With standard JavaScript and HTML, developers can create apps that access a social network’s friends and update feeds.”

It is also important to note that OpenSocial is not “GoogleSocial”. Most of the leading social networks including MySpace, Bebo, SixApart, Orkut,, LinkedIn, Ning, Plaxo, Friendster, Oracle and others have signed on to the OpenSocial alliance. The notable exception currently is that Facebook has not officially joined yet.

Who cares and why? Web strategists, developers, marketers, user experience professionals and others who define and design websites will be impacted.

What are the challenges? First of all, the announcement was just made 2 days ago, so everything surrounding the announcement and alliance is all pretty new. According to Web Strategist and Forrester analyst Jerimiah Owyang, some of the other challenges include: open data opens risks, inconsistencies in application behaviors, cultural differences, and how will the alliance evolve.

Bottom Line – My conclusion is that is important to be familiar with OpenSocial as everyone will be affected whether as a consumer of social applications or more directly in your business. Personally, I am excited about possible new features and capabilities I could be seeing soon in my favorite applications. However, it will take some time for things to shake out and for developers to start exploiting the new APIs. So, stay tuned, keep your ear to the ground and be patient for now.

What are your thoughts?

Additional Information – Here are some other links to explore to learn more:

Finally, here is a the first “Campfire” video from Google that explains what OpenSocial and shows how it will work:

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