Comments Competition winner is theharmonyguy, for an insightful explanation of Googler Kevin Marks' "Social Cloud" theory. Congratulations theharmonyguy, you've won a $30 Amazon voucher, courtesy of our competition sponsors AdaptiveBlue and their Amazon WishList Widget. theharmony guy argued that both OpenSocial and Facebook are "mainly creating a cloud for developers, not users." He explains more:Our second daily
"The "social cloud" analogy is an interesting one. As Luigi pointed out, though, OpenSocial is more OpenWidget. But I think this still fits with the social cloud idea - it's just that OpenSocial, in its current form, gives developers a social cloud.
That is, developers looking to write applications that utilize social aspects (such as connections between friends) can write code which will run on multiple social networking sites and take advantage of those social features on each one. For the developer, the technology necessary to establish and manage those pieces of the puzzle become a social cloud, much like TCP/IP and DNS have become a cloud for people surfing the Web - those parts simply work, and we usually don't care how.
But users don't have a social cloud quite yet. If I want to find a picture of a friend, I may have login to Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Xanga, etc., depending on which friend I mean. For me as a user, social aspects like connections between friends are still distributed between various sites and require maintenance on my part.
I think Kevin recognizes this problem (the Social Graph API addresses it in a small way), but is overly optimistic about how OpenSocial answers it. A true social cloud for users will happen when social aspects of online activities become absorbed into the layers of the Internet.
As an analogy, look at online video. There was a time (and it's still partially true) when watching a video would usually require you to download some specific plug-in that a particular site used. Nowadays, though, most users have Flash installed, adding a layer on top of a typical browser that video sites can take advantage of. The layer is invisible to the user, as they're never prompted to install or configure something - they just visit a site and see video.
An imperfect analogy, granted, but illustrates the point - and points back to the idea of distributed social networking. Currently each social networking site implements its own variation of managing a social graph - in other words, you have an application with social functions built on top. But with technologies like OpenID and OAuth, we may reach a point where social networking sites are built on top a distributed social graph. Essentially, the social aspects of things like friend connections become invisible to the user and simply another layer that people consider part of the Internet. Then we'll have a true social cloud for users.
Not to say that Kevin would disagree with any of this, I just felt like his presentation could have clarified these points a little more. With Facebook licensing their platform, we already have a competiting product doing the same thing as OpenSocial - but right now, both are mainly creating a cloud for developers, not users. DataPortability.org, which Andrew brought up, is an effort to create a cloud for users. Right now companies like Google who have joined DP are talking about how to make that happen, but I don't think even DP has yet figured out 100% how to accomplish it in a production setting. Many of the technologies are there, but it'll take time to actually put everything in place.
Sorry for the long comment... interesting presentation. :)"