Cooperation: Google, OpenSocial and social networks

On: November 4, 2007
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About Daphne Ben Shachar
Daphne is a Master student of New Media at the University of Amsterdam. She has a bachelor degree Communication & Multimedia Design, Interactive Media with an expertise in Content and Communication. And before that she also graduated at the Graphic School with an expertise in Traffic and Production Management within the graphical industry. In her spare time Daphne likes to go to the theater, mainly cabaret.


On November 2nd Google presented her “new baby”: OpenSocial. OpenSocial is a open source technology based on html and javascript, which allows networks to be open for gadgets and widgets from other sites. A good example of this, as I call it, “cooperation” is Plaxo or now so called Plaxo Pulse.

So why must Google be in between? Why didn’t all these different networks start connecting with each other and come up with a standard? In order to maybe get some answers on these questions I took a look at “Campfire One” the presentation of OpenSocial, explained by all the cooperating groups.

OpenSocial is mostly for making the lives of developers easier. Nowadays it’s pretty difficult to make a widget which is compatible with different kinds of social networks because each one of them is using different programming languages and standards.


“OpenSocial: a common open set of APIs for building social applications across multiple sites” API: application programming interface, “is a source code interface that an operating system or library provides to support requests for services to be made of it by computer programs” (1) (wiki)

“It’s all about making the Web more social, not just Google”

Right….so what will be different than…?

Example of the cooperation of Ning and Flixter

Ning is a social network whereby you can create your own social network.
Flixter is a movie community for movie fans where you can do all sorts of activities which involve movies, like rating, reviews, movie pics, movie news etc.

So what will happen when those two will cooperate with each other using the OpenSocial API’s?

CEO of Flixter:

“We’ve integrated the flixter application in the middle of the profile (profile page of someone on Ning). The profile page is getting it’s information from the servers of Ning and the Flixter applicaton gets it’s information live from Flixter servers. What Flixter is doing is using the OpenSocial API to get the users identity, pull information from our database about that users movie preferences[…]And what the users can do now is click into the application. We’re still within Ning but all the information you see is coming from the servers of Flixter. So what it’s doing is, again, get the users information, through OpenSocial from Ning, profile picture, name etc and also getting there entire friendslist immediately going to our database and looking at the most recently movie reviews for that friendslist and showing that as an activity stream at the right side of the page. And then if you click into a movie, what Flixter does is basically now turn any social community on the web into a movie site.[…] and immediately see your own friends and what they said about that movie and maybe discover somebody who wants to see the movie, so you can immediately share information.”

Well, that’s quite interesting information I say. So what’s basically happening with the use of OpenSocial is that your several accounts, in other words, databases, on different network sites will be combined and most importantly those of your friends as well.

(I took just one example, there are more examples given in the video of the presentation.)

So what’s in it for Google?

I see networks combining their databases and therefore also combine all your accounts and at the same time I see Google which is tracking your search inputs, uses Google AddWords etc.

Combining all this information tells me that Google is getting more and more information in an easier way cause everything is slowly getting centralized. Sure there are benefits for businesses and consumers but what’s happening now is that Google has got access to places, social networks, of which is known that users of those sites lose their guard about, for example, their privacy. I say it’s all in the name, “Open” “Social”.

But let’s not be to sceptical and see what it will bring us in the next upcoming months.

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