November 2nd, 2007 | Published in Google OpenSocial
I like social networking--it's really fun. But beyond the entertainment value, the demos at Campfire One (our launch event for OpenSocial that took place yesterday) just blew me away. Demo after demo showed me that OpenSocial makes developing social applications easy (in both programming applications and in gaining users) and has also catalyzed new contexts for the use of social applications.
The evening started out with consumer social applications. We saw Slide demonstrate its popular FunWall application in Hi5's social networking website. OpenSocial enabled Slide to create an integrated experience; for example, it appears that the FunWall application is part of Hi5, as users can seamlessly pull photos from friends' albums and edit them, but if Slide were to change just a bit of its CSS, they would be able to provide the same seamless experience in Orkut, which would mean making the application easily available on multiple websites.
Next, we saw Flixster demonstrate their movie application on Ning, which allows groups to create their own social networks. Last night they featured Tu Diabetes, a social network for people living with or affected by diabetes. Using OpenSocial, Ning was able to incorporate interactive social applications for the social networking groups they host. Tu Diabetes could integrate Flixster into their group, but beyond the 1500+ members of Tu Diabetes, Flixster can also offer their application to be integrated with the other 113,000+ social networking groups on Ning plus all other sites adopting OpenSocial. Flixster only has to write its application once to gain a potentially large user base.
What is really novel, though, is the ability to extend social networking into a business context. To this end, Theikos demonstrated its networking application applied in Salesforce's website. By using OpenSocial, Theikos could create an application that allows Salesforce users to view their co-workers' connections and the strength of those relationships to better target key decision-makers.
In fact, Viadeo, a business social network, says it believes that OpenSocial will soon become necessary, as business applications require very specialized knowledge, and no single social networking site can build out so many of these applications across verticals alone.
And then a surprise at the end: back to consumer! Flixster returned to demonstrate its application on MySpace. The company was given just 36 hours to try to get its application to work in the MySpace container, which has adopted the OpenSocial SDK. They successfully completed the integration in just a few hours and it worked. Wow.
Although those present at Campfire One were an intimate group, I was amazed to see the range of demos. They revealed just how easy OpenSocial is in creating useful social applications, and I look forward to these new social applications as I peruse the web.