Tag Archives: OpenStack

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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New Episode of The Social Web TV: “We’re back, with Open Stack bingo!”

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”!

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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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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

Gypsy_fortune_teller

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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Birth of the Social Web: Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect Now Available to All

December 4, 2008. Today may be remembered as the birth of the Social Web, as two major projects aimed at turning the Web social emerged from their restricted beta periods for general availability, Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect. Together, these two major events sound the death knell for the walled garden phase of social networking. Early reactions to the news are quick to frame this as a head-to-head battle between Google and Facebook, but the truth requires a look at the details, and I think something much more profound is happening…

First, the similarities. Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect share the same basic vision of the Social Web. Any site can become social, without having to build up its own social network. Users should be able to access those social features without having to experience the pain of usernames, passwords, uploading a photo, filling out a profile, importing an address book, and re-friending the people they’ve already connected with elsewhere. And, activity streams out to web-wide lifestream aggregators should become important engines of social discovery and growth for the site.

Now to the differences. One major difference between these two offerings is the technology under the hood. Google Friend Connect is built on the “open stack,” leveraging building blocks like OpenID, OAuth, and OpenSocial, whereas Facebook Connect is built on Facebook’s proprietary stack. A second difference is target market. Facebook has clearly focused on major sites, like Digg, Hulu, and CitySearch, and while simple implementations can be done with very little coding, most will involve a bit more complex development. Google, in contrast, has explicitly targeted the “long tail” of the web, sites that would never dream of writing their own social code; the focus of Google Friend Connect is to help these sites become social by cutting-and-pasting a few lines of javascript. The third major difference is one of strategy. Facebook Connect is all about making Facebook more useful to its users all over the Web. Google Friend Connect, on the other hand, is all about making the Web more social, with an approach that incorporates other social networks. For example, the current release integrates not only Orkut, but also Plaxo. (And recall that the earliest version also included Facebook, until Facebook shut that down.)

I’ve been playing around with Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect all along the way while these services were being carefully tested and refined prior to today’s formal rollout. I like them both, but see lots of room for improvement. But that’s to be expected; this is a major shift in how the Web will work, and there’s a lot of complexity under the covers. Today marks the birth of the Social Web, and we should expect to see lots of rapid progress for this newborn.

For those who haven’t checked out Google Friend Connect yet, I’m including a few screenshots…

Signing up via Google Friend Connect

Turning on Sharing to Plaxo

Signed in with a single click

Activity shows up in Plaxo!
My activity showing up in Plaxo

Oh, and you can check out the “Dive Bomber” site I used for these screenshots here.

Update: I just realized that I can now declare victory on the prediction I made for 2008, a prediction I made on December 6, 2007!

Update: The new episode of The Social Web TV is now up, with Joseph Smarr and I addressing the question, “Facebook Connect vs. OpenID?”:

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Yahoo and AOL Enhancing OpenID with Data Portability via the “Simple Registration” Extension

As many of my readers know, the user experience (UX) for OpenID has been a source of confusion and an impediment to broader adoption. That gave rise to an OpenID UX Summit a few weeks ago, hosted by Yahoo and attended by Google, Microsoft, MySpace, AOL, Plaxo, Facebook and many others. It also was a major focus of sessions and late-night discussion at last week’s Internet Identity Workshop. Today, we get to see some of the fruits of those efforts, as Yahoo rolls out (in a limited test) a new implementation of OpenID, currently live with just two test sites, Plaxo and Jyte; and AOL releases preview support for data portability via SREG.

Yahoo’s post describes the details:

Today, we are announcing the start of a limited test of the Simple Registration extension for the Yahoo! OpenID service. The Simple Registration extension allows OpenID RPs to request user profile data from the OpenID provider. Yahoo! will be providing Yahoo! OpenID users the ability to share the following Simple Registration fields for this initial test: Full Name, Nick Name, Email Address, Gender, Language and Timezone. The Yahoo! OpenID user will have full control on whether to share their profile data with the OpenID relying party. We will use the Yahoo! Profiles API to populate the user card which will be presented on the Yahoo! OpenID Review and Confirm page.

Joseph Smarr of Plaxo also has a post on the matter, including screenshots of the improved onboarding flow. As Joseph points out, this is really something bigger than single sign-on; the key is that the identity can bring with it, at the user’s option, some of their social data. This is an important step forward for data portability:

I think we can continue to expect more and more data to flow across the OpenID link, which will make it increasingly valuable for Relying Parties like Plaxo, and should incentivize many more sites to become RPs themselves. It’s great to see this virtuous cycle in motion, and Plaxo is eager to work with any and all OpenID Providers who want to improve their UX and empower their users to use more of their data across the web!

So, if you don’t have a Plaxo account yet, you can sign up for one with your Yahoo OpenID. If you choose to share your basic account info, you’ll land on a registration form that is pre-populated with with almost every field you need to activate your account. You only need to add your birthday and your country. (In a future release, we hope to get those last two fields as well, so we can do away with the form entirely.) Oh, and the user’s language choice will come along, too, so we can drop them into the appropriate localized version of Plaxo. Sweet!

George Fletcher of AOL also has a post on the AOL and SREG, entitled “OAuth and SREG and MapQuest! Oh My!” I’m still trying to figure out where I can go see the AOL OpenID w/ SREG live. Any pointers, anyone?

It’s great to see the pace of innovation on the Open Stack begin to accelerate.

For more on Yahoo’s test release, we made it the primary topic of this week’s episode of The Social Web TV, complete with a “magical” demo. (We didn’t know about the AOL news when we shot!):

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Smarr and Engel on the Open Stack, Part Two

Here’s more from the Open Stack breakout at yesterday’s first birthday event for OpenSocial, led by Plaxo’s Joseph Smarr and MySpace’s Max Engel. Joseph demos all sorts of interoperability made possible by the combination of OpenID, XRDS-Simple, OAuth, Portable Contacts, and OpenSocial.

And here’s Part One, in case you missed it.

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OpenSocial Birthday, Open Stack and the Smarr and Engel Show

The first of my videos from today’s anniversary event for OpenSocial is now up. The following segment was recorded late in the day at a breakout session led by Plaxo’s Joseph Smarr and MySpace’s Max Engel. Joseph and Max did a great tag-team discussion on the new “Open Stack” and how it can take us beyond the widget phase of social apps to the emerging world of the Social Web. The videos include several live demos that string together open spec building blocks, inlcuding OpenID, OAuth, Portable Contacts, XRDS-Simple, and the OpenSocial RESTful APIs.

I was so impressed with Joseph and Max, that I really want to encourage them to work up a longer tutorial session that we can share with the world via video. If you have interest in how the Open Stack will bring about the open Social Web, you’ll definitely enjoy the following two clips. (Clip two to follow once it’s encoded on Viddler.)


Part I

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From the OpenSocial First Birthday Event

I’m in San Francisco at the OpenSocial First Birthday event, hosted by MySpace. I’m capturing video a, which I hope to upload later today or tonight. In the meantime, I’ll share photos along the way. Looks like there are a couple hundred folks here.

In just over a year, OpenSocial has achieved a reach of over 600 million potential users. There have been over 300 million app installs. And sites like MySpace and Hi5 are signing the praises of this new platform, and along with many others, contributing to make it more robust.

Part of the crowd for the OpenSocial Birthday event
The Audience Awaits

David Glazer of Google presenting
Google’s David Glazer Reviews an Amazing First Year

Lane LiaBraaten of Google on the Community
Lane LiaBraaten of Google Talks about the Community

Joseph Smarr of Plaxo was just introduced, as a slide that many have come to love is being projected on the big screen. It’s the “new open stack” slide, that shows OpenSocial as part of a larger open ecosystem, together with OpenID, OAuth, Portable Contacts, and XRDS-Simple.

A New Open Stack is Emerging
A New Open Stack is Emerging

Joseph Smarr of Plaxo, now on the OpenSocial Board
Joseph Smarr of Plaxo Talks about Where We Go from Here

Okay. All for now. More later!

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