Wednesday, October 31, 2007

OpenSocial and Facebook as Platforms

We finally are starting to hear what Google's anticipated alternative to Facebook as a platform. If you've talked to me in the past few months, you probably know that this is something I've been grappling with across a variety of projects/domains. I've talked about this issue in: Facebook Platform and Facebook as a Learning Platform.

With Google's entry, there's a nice alternative to Facebook and the key word is "open." With Facebook you are somewhat forced to make a hard choice about rewiring your application to live seamlessly within the Facebook environment or pushing Facebook users across to your site which is a bit ugly. Further, you face the prospect of having Facebook rework aspects that you are leveraging.

As I'm looking at the design of several applications that are either new or extensions of existing sites/applications, I find myself wanting to leverage the knowledge of social connections that exist across the network of different applications (e.g.,, flickr, MyBlogLog, Facebook, LinkedIn, your email, discussion groups, etc.). As a user, I find it incredibly frustrating that I have to introduce relationships over and over again to these sites. Why doesn't my MyBlogLog community follow me over to Facebook?

Google appears to be headed down the direction that will allow applications to take advantage of that knowledge across applications.

But I'm still back staring my same questions as I look at various needs:
  • Do you leverage Facebook because of installed based and easier, known viral adoption model even though you are locked in?
  • Can you justify building out your own social graph (friends, groups, etc.)?
  • Do you head towards Google's OpenSocial even though you may be ahead of your users?
Answers seem to be fuzzy and turning out different in different cases. I'm hoping to hear more from other folks about what they seem happening.

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