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OpenSocial Isn't the Entire Answer

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Tim O'Reilly writes on O'Reilly Radar:
While I like the direction of Google OpenSocial, not only may Google be too late, as Mark argues, I don't think they go far enough. A framework and a set of Google Gadgets for building "social applications" misses the point. We don't want to build more applications that look like Facebook applications. It isn't about a social UI. It's about deeper re-use of social data to enliven any application. Some of those applications may have a minimal UI, like Google's breakthrough search app. OpenSocial doesn't give us any of that. Ajax widgets are a halfway house, an attempt to sandbox the kinds of applications that can be created.


I completely agree. Don't get me wrong, I think Google OpenSocial is a great step forward to allowing gadget style applications (ala Facebook apps) to be run in a distributed environment. At the end of the day I don't want every application I interact with on the web to be via a mammoth social network. I do see OpenSocial adding value of being able to integrate small common applications across social networks. It scares me though as it seems like a slippery slope if web entrepreneurs no longer think about building standalone services, but only those that ride on the back of these networks. If the Web is the platform, then how is moving from one large silo to a few large silos that much better?

As I'll be discussing in one of my talks at Web 2.0 Expo Berlin this week, OpenSocial is a great step forward, but as Tim says it doesn't go nearly far enough. I want APIs powered by OpenID and OAuth that let me control what services see which of my friends. I want to be able to interact with my friends all over the web; I want distributed applications (Dopplr, LiveJournal, Twitter, etc) to have controlled access to my friends from the mammoth social networks.

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