Tim O’Reilly is Skeptical about OpenSocial

Tim O’Reilly sums up quite nicely the key problem we’re all waiting to see solved with OpenSocial

If all OpenSocial does is allow developers to port their applications more easily from one social network to another, that’s a big win for the developer, as they get to shop their application to users of every participating social network. But it provides little incremental value to the user, the real target. We don’t want to have the same application on multiple social networks. We want applications that can use data from multiple social networks.

Tim’s a great writer and is able to sum up what took me over 600 words to try and describe. But both these posts are worth a read for the comments.

In my post, Paul Linder from Hi-5, one of the launch partners for OpenSocial says that OAuth will be the preferred authentication method that will potentially bind identeties together across social networks. This is great because it’ll be neutral.

In Tim’s post, Kevin Marks from Google reminds everyone of the technical challenges of preserving privacy of data across social networks that honor the complex rules and “social norms” of each social network. In his comment, Kevin hints that “publicly articulated performative” social networks (i.e. twitter, MySpace) would be easier to integrate because the data such as friend connections are public and connections are made with that in mind.

This is why I think the momentum and growth will favor social networks that are built on openness. Just as my parents are frustrated with the permissioning layers of flickr that I have put in place for personal photos, the vast majority of users are going to opt for simple to understand integrations, those that are open.