According to a report from AllThingsD, the Facebook Open Graph will be unleashed on the ecosystem this week bringing more "read, watch, listen" applications to the social platform. Open Graph apps that track what you eat, where and how far you run and what purchases you make could be announced as early as tomorrow.Facebook is ready to unleash a string of verbs into your Timeline.
Open Graph apps are the final installment of what Facebook announced at its f8 Developers' Conference in San Francisco last September. Open Graph apps are the coup de grace to Timeline. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the time, "We think that people are going to want to share all kinds of things with their lives and we think that apps are the way they want to show them."
Adding Function To The Digital Scrapbook
Facebook's original vision for Timeline was to be an annotated digital scrapbook. Think about what you put in a scrapbook. Pictures of you and your friends, meals you've shared, sites you have seen, people you have met. Maybe even album covers from a band you like or news articles you may have read, written or been mentioned in. When people come to your house, you show them the scrapbook and say, "oh, remember when we went to Niagra Falls, here are the pictures."
This is where the verbs kick in. Facebook started the notion of social verbs with the ability "to like" something. An article, piece of music, TV show etc. Anybody that has spent time on Facebook since the announcement of the Open Graph has seen the first apps in action such as articles from the Washington Post or what people are listening to on Spotify. All of those actions get transposed to your Timeline.
Facebook believes that the best way to discover apps is through social connections. Hence, there is no app store in Facebook. The Open Graph is designed for people to share life events and the applications used to create them along the social pipes of the Facebook ecosystem.
"Open graph is really the biggest opportunity to create new apps since we started apps on Facebook," Facebook CTO Bret Taylor said at f8.
Image: Facebook's top executives talk the Timeline and Open Graph at f8 in San Francisco, Sept. 2011.
The Real Start Of Frictionless Sharing
The Open Graph also revolves around the notion of "frictionless sharing." That would be sharing your actions (the aforementioned verbs) without explicitly going into the social platform and saying "I ran three miles today." The Open Graph mixed with an app like Nike+ (or maybe RunKeeper and its kindred) will have the ability to automatically update to Facebook.
We have weighed in on frictionless sharing multiples times since its announcement in September. Our founder, Richard MacManus, looked at the pros and cons of frictionless sharing while senior writer Marshall Kirkpatrick penned an editorial on "Why Facebook's Seamless Sharing Is Wrong."
There are certainly privacy issues to be addressed. Will Facebook make it certain that apps published to the Open Graph have clear, direct and simple directions for how and what you share? Left to their own devices, many app publishers will obfuscate the data privacy parameters of their apps. The directive for privacy on the Open Graph needs to come from the top, from Facebook itself.
Image: IHeartRadio being shown as an example of Facebook's Open Graph at f8.
Not everyone wants to share their scrapbooks. Facebook is more than just what it has made with Timeline. It is a compendium of news, conversations, games, sharing and communication. Facebook should realize that it is different things to different people. Will some people be extremely excited about the ability to use Open Graph apps to share the big and small events of their lives? Sure. Some people will not care though, preferring to use the platform as a way of discussing events with friends without those discussions being chronicled to the Timeline.
The company has scheduled a press event for tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 18. The assumption is that Facebook will announce the Open Graph is now out of beta and ready for developers and users to build upon.
Are you ready for the Open Graph? How will you use it? Let us know in the comments.