Saturday, November 03, 2007

Facebook and OpenSocial: Function vs Friendship

Wow, what a week. Hopefully I'll blog about it some time in the future. In the meantime, I've not had much chance to catch up with what's going on with Facebook-"challenger" OpenSocial in the last few days.

Phil is covering a lot of it at the moment, with some interesting questions and thoughts. However, from what little I've read of it, the primary focus is on widget portability, rather than network/user portability. In which case, one wonders what the priorities (and hence the business models) are for these services: Do users go to where the functionality is ("build it and they will come"), or do the applications go to where the users are? OpenSocial suggests the former, but my experience with Facebook and MySpace suggests the latter.

As such, I'm agreeing a lot with what Jeremy Keith is saying about it all - namely that what you really want, as a user, is to import and export your contact lists, not get access to the same app that everyone else everywhere has.

The paradigms are getting blurry, that's for sure. What do users really want - function or friends? Portability of both seems like important steps, but does competition get in the way of that? Are Google and friends really just doing something that now needs to happen at the National level?

1 comment:

phil jones said...

Agreed it's about widget and not network portability.

That's the problem. What it ignores is that all the *interesting* widgets are going to be ones that include "social functionality" which I define as "access to the social network and its conventions *programatically*"

I think the platform which "wins" is the one which offers "scriptable people". :->

I have no problem at all with OpenSocial, in fact it's going to be very useful for me, but it's not going to be able to offer any rich way for widgets to access friends because all the YASNS are different underneath.

There was a vague possibility that it might have forced the YASNS to offer a richer common feature set, but sensibly it didn't try to do that, so in fact, handy as it is, it's pretty irrelevant for interesting social widgets.