Read/WriteTalk host Sean Ammirati got a chance to sit down with Google Developer Advocate, Kevin Marks. Marks is best known, at least within Google, as one of the main evangelists of the OpenSocial project.Over on our network podcast
With Facebook's recent announcement that it was opening up its platform to other networks, there is a true platform war brewing between Mountain View and the latest Valley darling. Google takes the line that they're not looking to directly compete, and would be happy to have Facebook involved in their project. "Well, of course, theyd be very welcome" to join, said Marks. "The goal of this is to provide infrastructure." But Marks was also quick to point out the differences between Facebook's platform and Google's OpenSocial as well:
"The broad thing is much more potential users. Theres a much larger user base across many more social network platforms and in many different countries and social groups that arent just the demographic that Facebook already has. One of the reasons that Facebook got a lot of attention is that it has moved into the university educated people working for U.S. corporations demographic very strongly which makes sense given its roots. So those of us who work in the industry are suddenly aware of it, but there have been social networks out there for 10 years or more who have been gathering users and clustering in different places, and this is just the one that surfaced within our homophylic demographic so theres a wider world out there with just Facebook, and thats the key thing to think about when doing this."
Of course, one of the biggest issues around OpenSocial is just how ready the set of APIs is for public consumption. We pressed Marks on this point, but he was vague and wouldn't commit to classifying the project as alpha-level, beta, or anything else. He would only say that there are already public containers up on Orkut, hi5, Ning and Plaxo that developers can interact with, and that another release of OpenSocial is coming in the next few weeks.
We invite you to decide the status of the OpenSocial project in our poll below, and also to listen to the entire podcast (transcript included) that includes a fascinating discussion of the activity streams API, which we think has been talked about less than the rest of OpenSocial's components.