Tag Archives: OpenSocial

Yahoo’s “Y!OS”: Strong Proof the Web is Going Social — and Open!

Some really big news came and went last week, with relatively little attention paid to it by the mainstream media. Yahoo, the top Internet site in a major battle to regain it’s “mojo,” unveiled the details of “Y!OS” (Yahoo Open Strategy), a truly bold move that completely re-defines the notion of a portal. [See also nice coverage on Mashable by Rob Diana.]

Just as the “open” wave is transforming social network from walled gardens into aggregation hubs for connecting with the rest of the Web, Y!OS will transform Yahoo from a traditional portal into something entirely new. They’re doing it all by building on top of open spec building blocks, including OpenID, OAuth, and OpenSocial. And they’re not just taking these blocks off the shelf; they’re also giving back, contributing their own innovations in the spirit of let’s-all-work-together to keep the web open.

To learn more about Y!OS, we invited Cody Simms, Sr. Director of Product Management from Yahoo on to our weekly Internet TV show, The Social Web TV. Cody is a really dynamic guy; I think you’ll agree this is a great episode!

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Plaxo Becomes “Portable Contacts” Provider, Helping Vet the Draft Spec

Portable Contacts deep dive

As a follow-on to last week’s Portable Contacts Summit, Plaxo has updated its API site, de-emphasizing the company’s proprietary APIs in favor of Portable Contacts and the other associated “open stack” building blocks (OpenID, OAuth, microformats, OpenSocial, etc.). While the spec still remains in a draft state, the community agreed that it is time to start getting multiple live implementations up, as part of the process of vetting the current (and any future) draft. Only in that way can there be a fully-informed decision process to declare a final 1.0.

Joseph Smarr, who is Plaxo’s Chief Platform Architect and the de facto leader of the grass roots Portable Contacts initiative, blogged about the update to the API site in a piece entitled “Portable Contacts is Now Plaxo’s Primary API“:

We’ve revamped Plaxo’s developer section to focus primarily on the open building blocks we’re using. Starting now, developers should consider OAuth and Portable Contacts the primary way to access profile, address book, and pulse connections data from Plaxo. The idea is simple: once you write code to work with Plaxo, you can use that exact same code on a variety of other sites. And if you’ve already integrated with one of those sites, you can start working with Plaxo right away. After all, one of the main drivers to create Portable Contacts was the pain developers face having to write custom, one-off API implementations against every site they deal with. So we think it’s time to start living the good life, where common specs mean less writing code and more interoperability with more sites.

Given the strong support demonstrated at the Summit, we expect to see other implementations in the wild soon. And since Portable Contacts is all about enabling interoperability between Social Web services, it is critically important that we test a variety of cross-site scenarios live before declaring this or a future draft to be “1.0”.

One really cool thing is that all of the companies that fully implement the new OpenSocial RESTful APIs will be Portable Contacts compliant “out of the box” — without having to write any additional code. That’s because the Portable Contacts community worked with the OpenSocial community to technically align the two specs. So, don’t be surprised to see Portable Contacts support coming soon to some really big Internet players. (Hint: Google and MySpace had live demos at last week’s Summit.)

I am starting to feel very confident in my prediction for 2008! 🙂

If you are a developer who wants to jump in and get started on Portable Contacts, head over to Plaxo’s just-updated API site.

Update: I just also got a link to a live Portable Contacts demo from JanRain, which ties together OpenID and Plaxo’s implementation of Portable Contacts. Very cool.

[Reminder/disclosure: I work for Plaxo.]

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OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, Oh My! Joseph Smarr at Google IO

I’m back from two days at the Google IO developer conference in San Francisco. Lots of great sessions in the “hallway track,” with plenty of productive discussions around moving the ball forward on open standards for the Social Web. Great chats with David Recordon, Chris Messina, and many other luminaries. And, not surprisingly, I also attended the talk by Joseph Smarr of Plaxo. It was standing room only, and Joseph did a tour-de-force presentation that explained all the key building blocks and how they fit together. He even teased the crowd with a little insight into an interesting project that’s creating an open spec for secure exchange of address book and friends list data. Listen for it toward the end of the clip above. His talk got a great round of applause, as well as some nice tweets.

Here are a few of my pics from his animated speech. Is it me, or does he look like a young Bill Gates conducting a symphony orchestra?

Joseph Smarr at Google IO 2008 Joseph Smarr at Google IO 2008 Joseph Smarr at Google IO 2008 Joseph Smarr at Google IO 2008 Joseph Smarr at Google IO 2008 Joseph Smarr at Google IO 2008 Joseph Smarr at Google IO 2008 Joseph Smarr at Google IO 2008


Joseph’s put his presentation up over at his blog.

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The Social Web is Broken

BarCamp, social graph

I, along with many of you, am fighting hard to keep my head above the surface, as I tread the rising waters of the nascent Social Web. New sites are popping up every day. Join one, and you’re likely to go through a drill that’s become all too familiar: Generate another username/password pair. Recreate your profile. Slurp in your GMail or other address books. Build up your friends list all over again. In the process, generate a ton of connection request emails (also called “bac’n” — not quite spam, but not good for you).

Robert Scoble highlights these problems in the upcoming May issue of Fast Company magazine in an article entitled, “How to Fix the Web.” Those of us working on the problem, appreciate the continued advocacy from Robert, who became a poster child for the issue of “data portability” in early January. Sharing the controversy with Robert, I did feel some intense heat from a very polarized debate at the time, but in hindsight, the pain was worth it. Within days, the DataPortability.org workgroup managed to sign up Google, Plaxo, and Facebook, in a move widely credited with setting the stage for 2008 to be the year of data portability.

For those interested in helping move the ball forward, I encourage you to attend the Data Sharing Workshop in San Francisco in the next two days. It kicks off at 9:00 AM tomorrow.

In my view, we are really on the cusp of the opening up of the true Social Web. Making it all possible is a collection of building block technologies (OpenID, Oauth, microformats, OpenSocial, the Social Graph API, and one or two still-missing pieces). But none of those technologies is anything a user needs to know about or understand. These enabling technologies need to get wrapped up into three or more critical services of the Social Web: Identity Providers (examples Clickpass and Yahoo!), Social Graph Providers (stay tuned: Plaxo? Facebook? Others?), and Content Aggregators (Plaxo Pulse, FriendFeed, Iminta, SocialThing, Facebook, and a new one every week!).

Want more detail on this vision and how it snaps together? Be sure to see Joseph Smarr’s talk next Wednesday at the Web 2.0 Expo.

Or see the great post by Kaliya (a.k.a “Identity Woman”), who is facilitating the unconference aspect of the Data Sharing Summit.

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Toward Data Portability: SixApart’s BlogIt

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Caption: David Recordon (left) and Joseph Smarr (right) at the Social Graph Foo Camp

Recently, Joseph Smarr and I were invited by David Recordon of SixApart to take a look at something they were about to launch, called BlogIt. We got very excited and had lots of ideas about where they and we (Plaxo) could go together with this. It just launched, so I can now talk openly about it.

BlogIt is a very cool tool that embraces one of the foundational notions of the open Social Web: that once someone gets into using one social application, they will quite naturally begin to use multiple social applications, whether that’s social networks, blogs, microblogs, content aggregators, or whatever. The natural consequence of that is fragmentation, which, in the current “walled garden” phase of the Web, creates all sorts of hassles, inconvenience, and missed opportunity for richer interaction.

Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb is right, I think, to say that BlogIt “could be the start of something big.” At the core, BlogIt makes it easy to quickly create and publish a blogpost from within a social network or application, and have the post go to multiple destinations and get promoted from multiple sources (for example, Twitter). The first implemenation targets the Facebook platform, but obviously this can go to other networks, such as MySpace, Orkut, Plaxo Pulse, etc. via the Google-led OpenSocial platform.

What I like about it, is that we are still in the early phases of social media, social networking, and the opening up of the social web. Social networks and content aggregators can be a great way to mainstream the social media experience, and help millions of voices that are not currently heard jump into the world of blogging. How? By making it really easy to post — and to have a pre-existing audience — in the form of the local social graph(s) of the user.

David’s done a nice post, helping explain where this all fits in and where SixApart might go with this. Brad King, of TechWorldNews, also has a nice piece that puts this into a broader perspective. (I enjoyed my interview with him earlier today greatly!)

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The “Pulse of OpenID”

Here’s an excellent resource for getting a sense of what’s currently possible with OpenID. It’s a post from Sara Perez on ReadWriteWeb, with a breathtaking list of OpenID providers and “relying parties” (sites where you can use your OpenID).

While the skeptics remain, it is clear that there has been growing momentum for this critical building block of the Social Web, especially in the past few months.

I’d also recommend tapping into the wisdom of Joseph Smarr, who is both a passionate advocate of OpenID and an early implementer, as Plaxo’s chief platform architect. Plaxo rolled out support for OpenID late last year, becoming one of the first large-scale consumer sites to accept OpenID. And most recently, Joseph worked with Yahoo! on their implmentation, allowing users to log in to Plaxo with their Yahoo! credentials (using OpenID behind the scenes). Here’s an interview I did with him on the day of that announcement. It’s a good intro to the topic:

For developers with an interest in implementing OpenID, I recommend Joseph’s “A Recipe for OpenID-Enabling Your Site.” 

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More from the Portable Social Networks Panel at SXSW

Sorry it’s taken me so long to upload this additional clip. Here Joseph Smarr of Plaxo helps make that case that “open” is good for business — that rather than being a zero-sum game best played by protecting user lock-in, we are all better offer going after the growing pie!

And, yes, Joseph actually talks that fast; the tape is not sped up. In fact, there was no tape. I recorded it on my MPEG-4 camcorder from Sanyo.

There’s a nice writeup of the panel over at ReadWriteWeb.

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Plaxo’s Joseph Smarr on Google OpenSocial

At the recent OpenSocial Hackathon, hosted by SixApart, Google’s Patrick Chanezon interviewed Plaxo’s Joseph Smarr. Among his questions, “You saw a spike in growth when you announced support for OpenSocial. Has the strong growth continued?”

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While Interviewing Marc Canter, Kara Swisher Calls Facebook a “New Version of AOL”


The video was posted a few days ago, but I just stumbled onto it. Kara Swisher interviews Marc Canter (pictured above at the legendary Data Sharing Summit that paved the way) on his reactions to the Google OpenSocial announcement. Not sure what I enjoyed more — Kara declaring Facebook and MySpace to be a “new version of AOL” — or Marc phrasing Facebook’s strategic dilemma as whether they should “eat the blue pill or the red pill”. Must see TV!

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Yahoo!, Where are You?

As the industry was shook by one earthquake after another (first Microsoft’s deal with Facebook, then Google’s OpenSocial move), many asked, “Where’s Yahoo!?” Well, it turns out that “where?” is an important question to the folks at Yahoo!’s Brickhouse. I learned about the impending news via Michael Arrington’s Twitter post this evening, which I saw in my Plaxo Pulse. Minutes later, TechCrunch broke the news about what looks like a very exciting and open play around geo-location APIs and services. This is, indeed, a critically important piece of the open social web. Will be interesting to see how/if it hooks up with the Google OpenSocial stuff.

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