Tonight there were two earthquakes in Silicon Valley. One was physical, with the ground shaking enough to have my family calling and e-mailing to see if we were alright. The other a bold strategic move in the social networking space that was indeed seismic in nature.
The New York Times and TechCrunch managed to get the scoop on a big announcement Google was carefully planning, and forced a mad scramble for bloggers, journalists, and marketers all over the Valley and around the world.
What is now public knowledge is that Google is leading an effort to provide an alternative model for social applications, one not captive to various walled gardens, like Facebook and MySpace. Rather, their new OpenSocial APIs allow for the development of social apps that will work on any open site. Companies on board at the time of launch include Plaxo, LinkedIn, Friendster, Hi5, Ning, and, of course, Orkut, among others.
As readers of this blog know, the momentum for the open social web has been slowly building, ever since Facebook hijacked the term “open” to describe its proprietary web OS platform, F8. Unlike the Facebook platform, apps written to the new site-neutral OpenSocial APIs use open web technologies, not proprietary extensions like Facebook’s FBML.
This is a really important announcement and team effort. Plaxo is apparently ready to ship full support for the new APIs in their spin on social network profiles, called Dynamic Profiles, which they are launching this week.
Also cool that this is not the last earthquake to come. The open social web has now come to life, and there more volleys coming, such as friends list portability. The months ahead will be truly exciting!