Tag Archives: Friend Connect

A Portable Social Graph Spotted in the Wild: Plaxo Now Live in Google Friend Connect

In another sprint, Joseph Smarr and the team at Plaxo, working closely with their counterparts at Google, now have Plaxo/Friend Connect integration live. Joseph has a nice writeup on the Plaxo blog. [Reminder/disclaimer: I work at Plaxo.] [Screenshot below.]  

As regular readers know, I am a strong proponent of letting users access their local piece of the social graph at services all over the web. Clearly, Plaxo sees a market opportunity to become a major “social graph provider,” and this integration with Google Friend Connect is a good sign of progress in that effort. It is especially cool to see the “virtuous cycle” features of the integration; feeds of content flow back into Pulse from the Friend Connect site, enabling social discovery. In many ways, this looks like the beginning of the “Social Web.”

I’m currentyl in Washington, D.C. for the Graphing Social Patterns East conference, and will be speaking on a panel this afternoon on the Privacy and Data Portability. Facebook’s Dave Morin will be on it, so today’s news on Google Friend Connect should make for some interesting discussion.

Reactions coming in now. Nice post by David Recordon.

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Facebook Bows Out of Google Friend Connect Market Opportunity

CampfireOne 024
[Caption: Dave Morin of Facebook at Google’s CampFire One event, to the right of David Recordon of OpenID fame]

The biggest surprise in Google’s announcement of Friend Connect was Facebook’s participation as a “social graph provider.”

As a participant in and survivor of “Scoblegate,” I know all too well what a big deal it would be for Facebook to allow portability of their social graph to Google’s visionary project to socially-enable the long-tail of the Web.

At Monday’s CampFire One event on the Google campus, I was excited to see Dave Morin, who heads up the Platform at Facebook. Were they really participating in Google Friend Connect? Man, I knew this was big, but that would make it something HUGE!

Today, we all learned from Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, that Facebook has decided to *not* participate in this exciting opportunity. In an official Facebook blogpost Facebook reveals their heartburn over privacy issues and violation of various Facebook terms and conditions. So, they blocked Google’s Friend Connect application. Wow!

Could it really be true? At Plaxo (disclaimer/reminder: I head up marketing there), we believe that Google’s Friend Connect represents an enormous opportunity for the social networks participating as Social Graph Providers. As they light up the long tail of the Social Web, we want our users to be able to fully leverage their investment in creating a truly useful, fully-articulated social graph within Plaxo Pulse, categorizing their real-world relationships as family, friend, or business. We want our users to be able to take their local piece of the social graph with them, wherever they go across the Social Web. And we are confident that Google’s Friend Connect is a great vehicle for making that a reality.

Is it really possible that Facebook will cede this market opportunity to us? As a business person, I sure hope so! 🙂

But as a citizen of the Web, I hope not. Openess and competition leads to innovation and more choices.

I can hardly wait to see how this all plays out! Here’s the latest on the drama, again from TechCrunch.

And Dave, I’m not really trying to harsh on you or Facebook here. I do believe you guys are working on opening up, and am keen to hear the details when you’re ready. (And I hope you’re not reading all this from your vacation in Hawaii. Aloha.)

And if you’re thirsting for more, here’s a link to a video Robert Scoble shot at the Google CampFire One event. He interviews me before it all gets going, but if you make it to the end, you can see Dave Morin arrive and give his props to Scoble.

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Google Launching “Friend Connect;” Plaxo to Become Social Graph Provider

Well, another “big week” is off with a bang! Google has just announced its Friend Connect project along with Plaxo [reminder/disclaimer: I head up marketing there], who is announcing they’re becoming a “social graph provider” in support of the initiative.

Dan Farber of CNET interviewed me and has a nice writeup on Google Friend Connect and how it compares with last week’s announcements from MySpace and Facebook. Here’s an excerpt:

John McCrea, vice president of marketing at Plaxo, said that Google’s Friend Connect is “flipping the model,” from walled gardens to a more open Social Web.

“Instead of widgetizing apps and bolting them on to some corporation’s proprietary social graph, why not widgetize the social graph and socially-enable any website or web page?

That’s a big, bold vision that Plaxo is 100% aligned with. As to Facebook and MySpace, it is certainly great to read the rhetoric they are now putting forth. The meme of data portability, open Social Web, and Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web has certainly caught on!

Alas, the devil is in the details, and we haven’t seen any details (yet) from Facebook, just a Friday blog post signaling intent. Might be great, and we hope it is, but it’s not clear what the actual substance will be. With regard to MySpace, the rhetoric is over-the-top goodness, including a declaration of the end of the era of walled gardens. Alas, the details, as they currently exist, for their “Data Availability” effort fall far short of the vision many of us share for users having ownership of their data, control over who can see it, and freedom to take it with them, wherever they go across the Social Web. In the MySpace “Data Availability” model, the user can take their data for a walk anytime they want or to any place they want, but the data remains on a tether. There is no notion of copy, move, or sync. Participating sites must agree to have MySpace serve the data live in their page. That’s a half-step wrapped in a beautiful flag of openness.”

There is also a great story in the Washington Post, by Peter Whoriskey. I had a great a chat with Peter, and here’s an excerpt from his piece:

At the same time, Web businesses have begun to create standards for social site interactions on the Web — OpenId, OpenAuth, OpenSocial — that has further enabled users to move easily, and socially, from one Web site to another.

Such changes seem likely to alter the nature of the big social sites, people in the industry said, as the social aspects they are known for become accessible across the Web.

“The real question for a Facebook or a MySpace is: Is it best to think of them as a place like Studio 54 — a place where everyone wants to get in because all their friends are in — or is it more like some kind of utility?” said John McCrea, vice president of marketing for Plaxo, a company that maintains relationship information for 20 million members. “This is the evolution of the walled garden to the social Web.”

So, as the sun rises on Silicon Valley, I think it is the dawn of a new era. Very exciting.

We’re now updating our Social Web ecosystem chart to show where we think Friend Connect fits in:

Social Web Ecosystem

For a more detailed explanation, I refer you to my post on the Plaxo blog.

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