It seems the Tower of Babel can indeed be rebuilt.
Lately I’ve been using a terrific new service called FriendFeed, recently founded by an impressive crew of Xooglers. But now it seems that Google is going to start releasing a project that is far more ambitious, a project called OpenSocial that will knit together all of its own social applications with all other open social applications. Per TechCrunch, OpenSocial is essentially
a set of common APIs that application developers can use to create applications that work on any social networks (called “hosts”) that choose to participate.
Right now it seems that a wide array of “activity streams” will be managed through something like Google Reader.
This might mark the beginning of an all-out war between a flourishing web-based ecosystem built around Google’s OpenSocial and a still-closed Facebook-Microsoft alliance. It seems to me that this will be, sooner or later, the lever that prises Facebook open, and that is a very good thing.
Already Google Maps and Google Shared Stuff are allowing you to create profiles. I haven’t figured out how to export my de.licio.us data to Google yet, but exporting from de.licio.us to ma.gnolia was straightforward, so I figure it shouldn’t be impossible. Charmingly, Google makes it easy for you to post to other social bookmarking sites, but they don’t make importing obvious, or rather they don’t make it obvious enough. Of course, the hope is that I’ll be able to knit this all together across platforms in the near future. We’ll see.
One of my favorite sources, Silicon Alley Insider, has a weirdly narrow view of Google’s efforts. Let’s not forget that Google already controls a vast amount of “social” information about its users, and that OpenSocial is the first step in bringing it to bear.