MySpace began to reveal details about its answer to Facebook Connect - MySpace Data Availability. At the time, we were left to guess what the offering would contain. What we did know was that - in stark contrast to the proprietary nature of Facebook Connect - MySpace had chosen to rely on the Open Stack, using OpenSocial, OAuth, and OpenID to build its service. Now, MySpace has released that functionality - renamed MySpaceID - and, in so doing, it has helped Open Standards take another step forward, as well.A few months ago,
For added effect, MySpace has chosen to include Google Friend Connect, a service that Facebook has yet to use. The mix of MySpaceID and Google Friend Connect enables MySpaceID partners to deliver even more social functionality, without a great deal of development time.
What's more, it fires a very real shot across Facebook's bow. And continues to set the stage for the tag-team match between the more proprietary Facebook-Microsoft and the more open MySpace-Google.
The initial release is both limited in scope - it allows MySpace users to connect their profile information to third party sites and find MySpace friends who use those sites - and limited in sites that support it - the launch partners are Netvibes and Vodafone.
That said, MySpaceID is still a decided step forward for the open Web and data portability.
Everything Old Is New Again
For those of you who were around for Web 1.0, this is all probably starting to seem incredibly familiar. At that time, everyday users began exploring "the Internet" within constrained proprietary constructs like America Online and CompuServe, walled gardens in their own right.
But then, thanks to the combination of more friendly ISPs, increasing modem speeds, and decreasing technology costs, users gradually gained access to a far more open platform - the World Wide Web.
Soon the walled gardens of 1.0 became a series of entry points and start pages. They were where users began, but not where they stayed.
I'm pretty sure you know where things went from there.
Now, we see the same thing happening with the social networks. What began as walled gardens - destinations - are now becoming the "start pages" for the Web at large. And like the first time around, it's safe to assume that users will continue to push for the more and more open platform - just so long as it makes things easier and more accessible for them.
MySpaceID seems to do that in a limited way, which - honestly - is probably just fine for the everyday user. In fact - to continue the analogy - it's exactly like when AOL first began to let its users explore the Web with the AOL Web browser. It wasn't great, but it gave users a taste of what the Web could be.
For users - whether they understand the technologies or not - MySpaceID provides a simple federated identity - one login - while delivering social features that make managing their social connections across multiple sites even easier. That's a win for users. And given how it's built, it's definitely a win for the open Web.
What's next? It's hard to say. But one thing is for sure: my money is on the next iteration being even more open.