Why Open Social is important to the Social Experience

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are well-known and used daily.  We network with family, friends and even strangers through these mediums.  The motivation behind the usage varies greatly from individual to individual. I really do not want to get into the debate about motivation, or even the lack of it.  At least not in this post.  As we use these sites we start building up some very valuable resources that social networks harness to learn more about you.  These resources are photos that we post, message that we send, and the contacts that we have (aka our friends).

An example of a social network diagram.

Image via Wikipedia

Open Social represents a platform to share those social objects amongst different networks.  That means more than simply our status updates appearing on multiple  social networks.  This already exists.  For example my twitter update appears on my Facebook and LinkedIn profiles already today.  Open Social will provide a way to exchange your activity stream with another service, or third-party service.  It also allow for exchange of information about your friends.  For the user there are multiple value adds one of which is not to have the need to invite my friends into a different network but rather have them imported and accessible for free.

Information Exchange

This exchange of information which is facilitated through the “Opensocial” platform, will enrich the social experience on the web.  The user will be more easily able to communicate with their friends on multiple networks and have functionality that make the experience about the individual.  For example, I started using a new service called Fridge.  It is a relatively unknown service that allows a user to have private conversations with selected friends.  If that service could import  Facebook friends or Google contacts then the user could easily have a people picker in Fridge and start conversing on his private wall really quickly.  Since this integration is built into other social networks notifications could be sent to network specific mail as well as email.  The experience becomes immediately more richer.  Also the new service earns a trust factor that would not be there otherwise.

Why would Facebook or Google do this?

Facebook and Google and other social giants like Twitter will also benefit from the openness.  If you are having your private conversation on a different social networks it will not matter to Facebook or Google as long as they have access to it.  The networks can still abide by the privacy agreements and learn about you and your likes and preferences through the life cycle of your social objects.  This is what they are after anyways.  Using this information they understand more about their user and provide a more personalized and richer experience on their own sites.   Yes this will also include advertising but the advertising will be more pervasive and less intrusive.  I strongly believe that advertising that is directly aimed at the user and improves the users quality of life will be welcomed with open arms.

Geeky References

I have on purpose stayed away from mentioning the geeky side of things. If you are really interested in learning more about the Open Social API’s and protocols which are cutting edge and enabling the next generation of social tools, here is my recommended list:

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2 Responses to Why Open Social is important to the Social Experience

  1. Austin Chang says:

    Hi Mohan. Yes we are building in the ability to import contacts from Gmail and Facebook without doing FB Connect but using them as an easy interface to an address book.

    We started without those two because existing interfaces to pull contacts or friends from other services was clunky and hard to use. and the existing FB Connect API does not provide good access to a user’s inbox or email address but only notifications which no one really checks. (hmm, wonder why…)

    Instead we started instead with dedicated Group invite URLs. Every group has a unique invite URL that lets the group create propagate invites using their existing address book on their computer, phone, to their twitter, blog, or even Facebook.

    contact import definitely on the way and absolutely agree with you.

    • Mohan Gulati says:

      Hi Austin,
      Great to hear from you. I really like your product and I feel that private conversations are indeed a very important niche. I am curious to see how you differentiate yourselves from previous social networks like Plum or how you protect yourself from the big monster Facebook who have very little barrier to entry into Fridge’s domain. Excellent work keep it up and looking forward to seeing the new people picker.

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