Is this true? Sure hope so.

Alex Iskold headlines,, and begins,

When Google and others ganged up on Facebook a few weeks ago, to many of us, Open Social looked like a marketing move. The news came suspiciously close to Facebook’s ad platform announcement and after a close look, the API looked very raw. Most participants just announced their support without having any concrete implementation.

Yet, Open Social is not a fluke and neither it is an accident. It is an important step in the evolution of social and open web, a step that we have seen taken before in other circumstances. It is called commoditization. By creating an exchange of gadgets and social information Google and Co. declared that the era of social silos is over. In this post we look at the details of the open social API, discuss its adoption and look into the future of the social web.

He goes on to give details.

I still think Open Social is also a marketing move. The timing alone was too propitious for it not to be. But still, even if Google is zigging to Facebook’s zag, it’s potentially a good zig, if Alex is right.

[Later…] Dave says it’s not true.


  1. Dave Winer’s avatar

    I don’t think it’s true.

    OpenSocial doesn’t provide a mechanism for services to exchange information about users.

    It’s a very treacherous piece of functionality, note the outrage of about Facebook’s sharing of information about people’s purchasing habits.

    What we need, as a cautious first step, is for vendors to give control of user data to the users. A great example continues to be the movie rating information kept by Netflix and Yahoo Movies (there are others). I’ve lobbied both companies, directly, to provide an export for this data to users of their services, at which point I would happily take the campaign to companies who have services that could use this data (e.g. dating services). So far neither company has been willing to give the users control of this data.

    OpenSocial is a cloud of fog, indeed clearly aimed at confusing the market about Facebook’s success. Near as I can see, there isn’t a single bit of good VRM news in there.

  2. Alex Iskold’s avatar


    Correct, this is not open data yet and so no attention economy. But it is a step in the right direction. If we can get social networks to adapt and implement the common API there is a hope that retailers will do it as well.

    Interestingly Facebook’s Beacon’s were embraced by many right away because there is a traffic back to the retailers. So they are okay to send the content into the network as long as there is a link back.

    In any case, for a long time I thought that Attention data needs to be sent to a user-controlled attention store and then routed to the service of choice. Alas, given our tech world its rather difficult, so instead NxM API solution is what we can hope for.

    But as always – time will tell.


  3. Marc’s Voice » Blog Archive » Give OpenSocial a chance’s avatar

    […] Iskold’s Thanksgiving post where he declares “that OpenSocial really matters” and folks like Doc Searls and Dave Winer disagreed (in a comment) are saying “that OpenSocial is just a marketing ploy […]

  4. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Just curious to know if the Attention Trust was ever on Facebook’s radar.

  5. Chris Brogan...’s avatar

    LinkedIN lets me take my contacts whole hog out of their platform, which is lovely. Yahoo! Pipes started me thinking that folks were going to be able to mash their data really interestingly against lots of other apps, but that didn’t seem to keep up its momentum.

    I’m hoping that Open Social beats everyone to the “let my data go!” experience, because wouldn’t that just be nuts? Wouldn’t that be a lot closer to the moment when we can envision using all these various apps against our data in interesting ways?

    Phase 1 isn’t all that and a bag of chips, and maybe it’s just marketing to get developers to settle in. But if Phase 2 was something about clever ways to move our data around, that’d be swell!

  6. Sudhanshu Raheja’s avatar

    OpenSocial might be just a marketing move, but I wonder if Google had waited for say a year before launching it, we would have agreed that it was too late. As a developer, it definitely gives me more interesting options, today.

    Besides one point that I don’t see anywhere is that OpenSocial is a ticket to Orkut, which is extremely popular here in India. Most of us trying to make a living here, would love to get inside Orkut, and connect with the people I meet everyday.

    Anyhow, I just hope that we can get this work someday :
    facebook -list movies | imdb -trivia | blogger -addToSidebar

  7. Ron Johnson’s avatar

    It’s interesting how OpenSocial made a huge splash and got tons of headlines when it was announced. Since then, nearly nothing. Does that indicate it was in fact a marketing move?

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