After a post-SXSW hiatus, The Social Web TV is back with a roar, as Joseph and I declare MySpace winner of the industry’s “Open Stack Bingo”!
The opening up of the Social Web is accelerating on an exponential curve. So many things have happened in recent weeks that I have not managed to blog about. I hope my loyal readers will forgive me for not posting on the big rollout of MySpaceID or Google’s support for Portable Contacts in GMail. Anyway, onward…
I’m up in SF with Joseph Smarr at Web 2.0 Expo. I shot video of Joseph’s talk this morning, which I hope to post, along with the slides, tomorrow. Now, I’m at the Activity Streams meetup, that started with lunch, but is just now getting down into the working session. MySpace has a bunch of folks here, and is helping us get organized. There are also folks from Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Plaxo, Nokia, Six Apart, and Vidoop, among others. This is a follow-on to the meetup in January, which I live-blogged then.
After a lot of discussion, David Recordon suggests that what we need is a bunch of examples of use cases and questions, asserting that we probably already have good answers to most of them. Joseph Smarr suggests a 90-day period of soak time for the current draft spec, with people implementing against it.
As usual, what I am most impressed by is the genuine collaboration underway, in which it is clear that none of the companies participating is trying to extract some proprietary advantage. This is truly an open spec process, in which the need for a common standard is far greater than any company’s desire for unique advantage. After all, webwide activity stream aggregation, pioneered by Plaxo in the summer of 2007, is now the blueprint for the the Social Web, as expressed in implementations from Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, and AOL, among others.
The concept of an “open social network,” one that gets its news feed not from within its own walls, but rather by aggregating lifestreams from all over the open Web, first appeared with the launch of Plaxo Pulse in August 2007. [Reminder/disclosure: I head up marketing at Plaxo. :)]
While Plaxo stayed heads-down focused on serving its traditional 30- to 50-year-old professional demographic with private sharing and conversations based on a family/friend/business connection model, FriendFeed came roaring into the space with a service as public and extensible as Twitter, and quickly became a darling of the early-adopter and blogger/influencer crowd.
The two services have continued to innovate down different pathways and to help map out a blueprint that we are now seeing adopted by some of the largest social networks (Facebook and MySpace) and largest of mainstream Internet companies (Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL). So, let’s take a look at the traffic trend for these two pioneers, through the lens of the latest data from Compete.com. [Note: Compete.com only looks at U.S. traffic, and like all other tracking services, provides an approximate tally.]
While each service experienced a month here or there of sideways drift or month-over-month declines in monthly unique visitors, the clear overall trend for 2008 is one of strong growth. Plaxo in particular is showing encouraging signs of vibrancy at the end of 2008.
The key question now: with much larger players putting all their chips on the webwide lifestream aggregation model, can either of both of the two pioneers grow fast enough in their respective niches to carve out a great longterm position in the marketplace?
My belief is that the answer is “yes,” as the Web itself goes social, and the Social Web goes open, creating a wave of innovation that will favor the most agile of aggregators. And as a passionate user of both services, I sure hope I’m right!
It is kind of fashionable at the moment to point out the real or imagined shortcomings of OpenID, in light of the elegance of Facebook Connect. But the reality is that together with the other elements of the Open Stack (OAuth, XRD, Portable Contacts, and OpenSocial), OpenID is entering 2009 with incredible momentum, and tantalizing possibilities. And no one is more capable of demonstrating the possibilities than Plaxo’s Joseph Smarr, who “kicked ass” at the recent Open Stack meetup. Video of his killer presentation with demos has just been posted online. Yes, it’s geeky, and the demos are not pretty to look at, but the new capabilities shown will be turned into product early in 2009 at Plaxo, Google, Yahoo, and MySpace, among others. If you want a glimpse into the near-future of the Social Web, built on the Open Stack, this is 17 minutes of must-see TV:
Also, check out Joseph’s new post reviewing six months of progress on Portable Contacts.
We just uploaded a special episode of The Social Web TV, shot on location at the Internet Identity Workshop at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Special guests include Max Engel of MySpace, Eran Hammer of Yahoo, Dick Hardt of Sxipper, Paul Trevithick of Parity, and Doc Searls of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. I think you’ll agree that this is a “magical” episode!