Tag Archives: Oauth

A glimpse into the future of news, thanks to NYT’s open APIs and Plaxo

TimesPeople feed in Plaxo

As my frequent readers know, I’m a strong believer in the emergence of a Social Web characterized by openness and interoperability, and powered by a virtuous cycle of social discovery. The cycle starts when a visitor to a media site shares content out to one or more their social networks, enabling their friends to discover it, click over to the source site to consume it, and from there to share it (or another piece of content) out to their social networks – starting the next loop of the virtuous cycle.

Enabling that cycle under the hood, will be a common “Open Stack” of technologies (like OpenID, OAuth, Portable Contacts, Activity Streams), which will dramatically lower the cost of integration – a critical requirement to scale from a few distribution partnerships to leveraging discovery across the whole of the Social Web. And I believe that such a virtuous cycle will play an essential role in enabling the newspaper industry to evolve from its print past to its online future, with a viable long-term business model that is native to the Social Web.

That’s why I’m so excited by what was rolled out today by Plaxo, long a champion of the shift from walled gardens to the open Social Web, together with TimesPeople, the forward-leaning social news arm of The New York Times, which has led the way on opening up the industry via its revolutionary combination of free access to content and open APIs.

In recent months, the two have been working together to simplify the task of sharing to one or more social networks. Today, they introduced the first fruit of that collaboration, a TimesPeople “feed” for the Plaxo network, which allows one-click sharing from NYTimes.com over to the Plaxo network. The feature was implemented via the TimesPeople APIs, without the NYTimes.com having to integrate a single line of Plaxo-specific code or even to add a Plaxo logo or link anywhere on the site. (As a result, any other social network or content aggregator could easily replicate the feature.)

TimesPeople members who have hooked up the feed can share a news story with a single click on the “recommend” button next to the article. That’s it. In the background, without any further effort, Plaxo picks up and delivers a content bundle that includes the story’s headline, a snippet of copy, a thumbnail image, and link to the full story.

Other social networks can take advantage of the same API, as well, paving the way for a model in which one click by a reader can promote a story to all of the aggregation services that user shares on.

This stands in stark contrast to the status quo on most media sites. All too often, sharing a piece of content means choosing from a bewildering array of branded links, or a popup UI splattered with dozens of colorful, little Web 2.0 logo icons. Or more recently, it might mean a deeper one-off integration with a single partner. Either way, the media site ends up having to decorate itself with one or more logos – and faces the hard choice of how many and which ones to present to their audience as choices.

Nascar effect

And this “Nascar effect” makes it highly unlikely that a user will make the effort to share content out to more than one of the social networks they use.

Hats off to Derek Gottfrid of TimesPeople and Joseph Smarr of Plaxo, for this great example of Social Web interoperability!

[Reminder/disclosure: Plaxo is my employer (but I try my best to write about it here objectively and only when it is relevant to opening up the Social Web).]

Update: There’s also now a post on NYT’s “Open” blog, Plaxo: The Pulse of TimesPeople. Nice!

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Must See Web TV: Joseph Smarr’s “The Social Web: An Implementer’s Guide”

Late last month, Google hosted their annual developer gathering, Google I/O, in San Francisco. Among the many interesting talks was one by Joseph Smarr, Plaxo’s Chief Platform Artchitect, someone involved deeply in all the aspects of the Open Stack. If you want to understand what’s going on in the emerging Social Web, you have to watch his talk, entitled “The Social Web: An Implementer’s Guide.”

Joseph explains how you can now leverage technologies for openness and interoperability to:

– Streamline your sign up flow
– Put an end to “re-friend madness”
– Kill the “password anti-pattern”
– Ride the “virtuous cycle”

His talk includes several demos. Check it out:

Alternatively, you can access the slides over at Joseph’s blog.

To quote Joseph, “The web is now social. And the Social Web is now open.”

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The Social Web TV on the OAuth Security Vulnerability

The Social Web TV crew shot a special episode yesterday on the Google campus, where folks from the OAuth community convened to discuss changes to the spec to address the recently-discovered security vulnerability. Chris Messina, Joseph Smarr, and I welcomed special guest, Eran Hammer from Yahoo! and one of the leaders of the OAuth community, to help us get the story straight. If this topic interests you, also check out an excellent piece by Marshal Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb, entitled, How the OAuth Security Battle Was Won, Open Web Style

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Surviving & Thriving in the Online Identity Wars: Joseph Smarr at Web 2.0 Expo

Joseph Smarr at Web 2.0 Expo Joseph Smarr at Web 2.0 Expo Joseph Smarr at Web 2.0 Expo Joseph Smarr at Web 2.0 Expo

At the recent Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, Joseph Smarr, Plaxo’s Chief Platform Architect, took the stage with an all-new presentation, entitled “Surviving (and Thriving in) the Online Identity Wars”. As usual, he rocked it! Alas, the talk was scheduled for 8:30 in the morning, which meant that even if you were at the conference, you might still have missed it. So, this post is for everyone around the world who wished they could have been there.

Putting this into perspective: A year ago at Web 2.0 Expo, Joseph introduced the concepts of a “Social Web ecosystem” (with Identity Providers, Social Graph Providers, and Webwide Aggregators), fueling a “virtuous cycle” of social content/site discovery. And six months ago, at Web 2.0 Expo in New York, Joseph coined the term “Open Stack,” to refer to the combination of OpenID, OAuth, Portable Contacts, XRD, and OpenSocial, asserting that this collection of “small parts, loosely joined” is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

In this new talk, Joseph gives guidance to sites on how to survive and thrive in the sea change of the opening up of the Social Web. I recommend everyone check out his specific “do’s” and “don’ts”…

Video of the talk (part one)

Video of the talk (part two)

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Plaxo and TripIt: “Social and Useful”

In these early days of the emergence of the Social Web, we’re never surprised when the services we use do not work together. Fragmentation and frustration rule the day, and 15 years into the consumer Internet revolution, we are still doing lots of things manually that will *someday* happen “magically” in the cloud.

Well, today I experienced a little bit of that near-future magic, and I wanted to share it with you…

First, the context. Plaxo [disclosure/reminder: my employer] rolled out a new release today that included a first-class integration with TripIt, a travel itinerary service that I had heard good things about from my colleague Joseph Smarr, but never actually signed up for. Well, it was also the day before our flight down to Austin for SXSW and a week before my flight to Las Vegas for Microsoft’s MIX 09 to speak on a panel about Activity Streams. So, it was unavoidable that I should check out TripIt and set up an Activity Stream from it into Plaxo.

First, I went to Outlook, where I had an email from Carson Wagonlit, our company’s official travel agency. I clicked on the link to view my itinerary, and was surprised to see an “Add to TripIt” link. A lightbox popped, prompting me to email the itinerary, which was as simple as typing in my email address. Yep. No heavyweight registration step, just kicking off my relationship with TripIt wid the act of emailing a single itinerary! Sweet.

Add to TripIt

I was instructed to check my inbox for an email from TripIt, and moments later it arrived. It included a link to my itinerary on TripIt, which I clicked on. After filling in just a couple pieces of info and choosing a password, I was a full-fledged TripIt member, all set up and ready to go.

I went back to Plaxo to add the TripIt feed. This functionality is *way* more buried than it ought to be, but since I work at Plaxo, I knew exactly where to go. (Do you think maybe we’ll make this more prominent soon? I do.) This is what I saw:

TripIt Activity Stream Setup in Plaxo

I chose Friends and Family, since I don’t want my travel plans shared with all my business connections (or the world, for that matter). I clicked on “Connect your TripIt account” and saw this in a popup:

Sign In to TripIt

So I signed in with my new TripIt credentials and saw the TripIt consent page that was asking if I wanted to grant Plaxo access to my private TripIt feed (Activity Stream). It’s yet another great example of the power of the open standard OAuth:

TripIt Access Request

I clicked on the “Grant access” button, and I was done. I had a TripIt account, and my Activity Stream from it was now flowing into Plaxo, sharing my itineraries with my family and friends. Not long after I saw this in my Plaxo Pulse stream:

Vegas Trip in the Plaxo Stream

There are so many things about this that are way cool. First, the event looks great, because it includes more details than most third-party feeds into Social Web aggregators. Second, this is a private feed, shared with only the subset of my connections that I choose to share it with. Third, they can (and did) comment on it, sparking interesting conversations. Fourth, they can get the info about my travel plans, though not in a level of detail that I would be uncomfortable with. And fifith, I see a link that is only visible to me, which connects to the full itinerary details over at TripIt. Pretty sweet, huh?

But that’s not all. When I go to my Plaxo calendar, I see my trip to Austin for SXSW and my trip to Vegas for MIX 09 are there, automatically injected as a result of connecting my private Activity Stream to Plaxo.

This is a *great* example of data portability with the user in control, and a glimpse into the world of the Social Web we all want to bring about. If you’re heading to SXSW, give it a whirl!

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The Social Web TV: Google, Plaxo, and Hybrid OpenID

In this week’s episode of The Social Web TV, Joseph Smarr and I are joined by special guests, Dirk Balfanz and Breno de Medeiros of Google to discuss this week’s rollout of Hybrid OpenID/OAuth and a “Two-Click Signup” experiment between Google and Plaxo. Check it out:

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Optimism for 2009: Joseph Smarr Demos the Near-Future of the Social Web on the Open Stack

Joseph Smarr at the Open Stack Meetup

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.

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My Keynote Address at Last Week’s Open Stack Meetup

2008 is going out on a high note, with incredible momentum for the new Open Stack. I had the honor of delivering a brief introduction to the Open Stack at last Friday evening’s Open Stack Meetup in San Francisco. We’ll end up using this material on The Social Web TV somehow, but thought I’d share this you now. [Warning: Contains cursing.]

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For Posterity: The First-Ever “Open Stack” Meetup

I’m just back from a great evening in San Francisco for the first ever Open Stack Meetup, put together by David Recordon of SixApart and Joe Stump of Digg, and hosted at Digg. I had the honor of kicking off this historic event with a keynote on the Open Stack, as a whole greater than the sum of its parts. [Update: Video of my keynote is now online.]

The godfather of open, Marc Canter reports that there were about 100 people there, and I totally agree with him that “Joseph Smarr just kicked ass”. There was a mix of vision, description, and demo, and it all came off pretty well (given how little coordinated planning was involved). Plus, we gave out a cool new t-shirt that said, “I hack on the Open Stack”.

Here are a few photos I took. We’ll follow it up with video on The Social Web TV.

Eran Hammer at the Open Stack Meetup

David Recordon at the Open Stack Meetup

David Recordon at the Open Stack Meetup

Allen Tom at the Open Stack Meetup

Kevin Marks at the Open Stack Meetup

Kevin Marks at the Open Stack Meetup

Joseph Smarr at Open Stack Meetup

Joseph Smarr at Open Stack Meetup

Joseph Smarr at Open Stack Meetup

Joseph Smarr at Open Stack Meetup

Joseph Smarr at Open Stack Meetup

Joseph Smarr at Open Stack Meetup

Chris Messina at Open Stack Meetup

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The Social Web: My Predictions for 2009


It’s that time of year, when would-be futurists are compelled to publicly assert their predictions for the coming year. IMHO, I knocked it out of the park with my prediction for 2008.

So, I decided to go bigger this year, and make not one, but five bold predictions around the emergence of the Social Web.

Prediction 1: Facebook will begin its migration to the “Open Stack” and roll out support for at least one piece of it. Leading candidates: OpenID and OAuth.

Prediction 2: Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft will rollout support for Portable Contacts for their respective webmail services.

Prediction 3: Microsoft will implement OAuth, at least for Portable Contacts, if not more broadly.

Prediction 4: Microsoft’s “Windows Live” social network will become an OpenSocial container.

Prediction 5: Plaxo will so successfully prove onboard turbocharging via the Open Stack that they will abandon traditional email/password signups entirely.

These predictions are solely my opinion and are not based on any knowledge of specific product plans — except for maybe number 5. 😉

As with last year, I will check in on these at mid-year and end of the year.

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