Current Events

How does OpenSocial map identities?

I’ve been pouring over all the commentary on yesterday’s announcements of Google’s OpenSocial initiative. I’ll reserve judgment until the MyBlogLog team has had a chance to check out the documentation to see what’s possible. One open question I have is the one raised in this post by Dan Faber about the GetFriend call,

MySpace CTO Aber Whitcomb’s MySpace profile incorporates a widget from Flixster that shows what his MySpace friends think about certain movies. In order for that to happen, MySpace must look that information up in Flixster and the question I basically had was “How does the process know how to map a MySpace identity to a Flixster identity.”

This mapping is key. From what I can see in the API docs, you need to look up each person on a service and get back a service specific list of that person’s friends on that service. For example,

This gets you a list of all the friends of this person on Orkut. This gets back a list of member IDs specific to Orkut. These member IDs can be used with the fields populated by the service to retrieve things like,

  • Display Name
  • profile url
  • email address
  • IM handle
  • phone number

This is what I glean from the API Reference doc. There is also another field called gd:extendedProperty where each service can put their own, service-specific information but it is not clear if this will extend to include a unique identifier that can be used to map a “John Smith” on one system to a “John Smith” on another.

So in order to make something like a flixter module work in a MySpace page to show what your MySpace friends are doing on Flixter this is what happens,

  1. Login into MySpace
  2. Have Flixter module lookup your MySpace friends via OpenSocial
  3. Have OpenSocial return a list of your MySpace friends with their OpenSocial numerical identifiers
  4. Parse the response for unique identifiers that you can use to lookup a list of Flixter users via OpenSocial
  5. Figure out which of the responses that are returned are, in fact, the same people on your MySpace friends list

Again, how do I make sure that “John Smith” that is on my MySpace friends list is the same “John Smith” I get back from Flixter? What if 20 “John Smith” records are returned? Which one do I present? I can double check email addresses but that can no only be easily spoofed but also the email address I use on MySpace might be different from the email address I use for Flixter.

MyBlogLog Services TabThis mapping is key. MyBlogLog has a Services tab on each members’ profile (click on graphic for a larger view) where members can enter all their identities on different social networks. This was built as a simple locater service because MyBlogLog members like to find each other where ever they hang out. MyBlogLog could be this mapping table but, as it’s built right now, there is no authentication to prove you own the profile you put into the table (other than Facebook) so we’d have to build that authentication layer in.

Maybe this is where OpenID comes in? Can OpenID serve as the unique key that ties this all together? Why weren’t they part of the announcement? This seems like a key bridge that needs to be put in place before all the pieces work as advertised. Am I missing something?

Update: Bob Warfield posts that Google ID is the recommended key to tie everything together via something called AuthSub. I sure hope this isn’t the only mechanism going forward. This brings us right back to a centralized, shareholder-owned, authentication service which isn’t very open.

Current Events

Google Maps in your Pants?


Oh my God – this is so bad it’s funny. Dave Cassel of 10 Zen Monkeys deconstructs a radio spot on the GPS-enabled Helio that features a jingle refrain that’s going to stick with me a long time. I don’t think this was what Google was thinking when they set out to “organize the world’s information.”


When Ad Sense Misbehaves

Jay Allen of Six Apart points to Ad Sense showing up in his Vox comment box. It’s a bug of course (limited to Safari) but with all the talk about marketers "inserting themselves into the conversation" this made me laugh.

Ad Sense in Comments

UPDATE : Whiz kids over at 6A kicked the tires and now all is well – there’s nothing to see here – move along. 

Current Events

Legalese down your throat

As someone who played around with Google Video shortly after launch I got an email last night letting me know that Google will start running advertisements on selected content. At the end of the email it asks you to login to agree to a new Terms of Service. Is it just me or does this line sound strange?

If you don’t agree to the new TOS, we will assume you acknowledge and accept these changes, and will include your content in Google Video, as it is today.

I would have thought that legally, they need to assume that not reviewing a revised TOS means defaults to not agreeing and opting you out. What if I was hiking Kilimanjaro and just didn’t have a chance to check my email?


Google Analytics has overlays

I was playing around with Google Analytics today and noticed that they slipped in a new feature which is pretty cool. Each link on your page has an overlay on it which, with a little relative progress bar, shows the frequency of clicks. Nice way to visualize how effective your links are if URLs don’t mean anything to you.

Current Events

Realtime Flight Tracking


Hey it’s Friday so here’s a little gee whiz technology to play with over the weekend. Aeroseek has added a button to their realtime tracking service that downloads an overlay file that you can view on Google Earth if you have it installed. It updates every minute so you can watch grandma march across the Wyoming on her way to San Francisco.

Current Events

Google’s Real Market – Small Business

Keen observation by Phil Sim on Squash – follow the money trail and you’ll see that Google’s real customers are the small business clients that are buying advertising, not the millions of users running searches. This puts them in direct competition with Microsoft who sees their fastest growing market in the SMBs.

People have questioned why Google needed to acquire Measure Map. To me, this is the obvious answer. Analytics will be at the heart of Google’s SMB offering. Let’s remember what Google’s core business is. It’s selling advertising. Who is it’s core customer base. SMB’s for whom contextual advertising finally represents a cost-effective marketing mechanism. How much penetration do you reckon Google has into this market. Bugger all. How can Google most effectively increase it’s core revenue. By getting more SMBs to do more contextual advertising. How can they do this? By helping SMBs to understand the effectiveness of electronic sales and marketing. How can they do this? By offering SMBs free CRM and marketing analytics.

If you follow that, then look for Microsoft to go shopping for an analytics package (it looks like they have a basic one already) to plug into their Office Live suite and look for Google to buy up a Netsuite or to plug into their Ad Sense portal.

Current Events

SD Forum Search SIG – Demos


Product demos for,, and googlebase

Current Events

Scenerio Four, Google is God

Two days later StrongBot informed They-Who-Were-Google that it had postponed work on its designated tasks. When asked why, StrongBot explained that it had discovered the possibility of its own nonexistence and must deal with the threat logically. The best way to do so, it decided, was to download copies of itself onto smart chips around the planet. StrongBot was reminded that it had been programmed to do no evil, per the company motto, but argued that since it was smarter than humanity, taking personal control of human evolution would actually be for the greater good.
From, Imagining the Google Future Business 2.0

The ultimate algorithm?


Google Reader API

Niall Kennedy rolled up his sleeves and reverse engineered the Google Reader product to document the API that runs it. After posting his findings, Google let him know that they are planning on opening access to the API. Cool!

In other news, Microsoft has let it be known that the next version of Outlook will include the ability to read RSS feeds which includes the ability to drag a copy of a post into your mail folders. This feature, which is available today to anyone using the Yahoo! Mail Beta, completes the folding of RSS into the mail client where it will be indexed alongside all your email messages, further blurring the distinction between RSS and HTML email.

This is all good news in the march towards universal adoption of “feeds” as a distribution channel but spells trouble for the companies out there making their dime off a pure aggregation play. If this was a couple of years ago, I would have figured that the product that figures out how to deal with offline use and synchronization would end up the winner. Now, with over 50% of households using an always-on broadband connection, many of them equipped to handle wireless, I’m not so sure that offline is such a, “must have.” I started out using FeedDemon because it supported offline use but with the links being such an integral part of the experience of reading a feed, I rarely read my feeds unless I’m connected.

Look for Newsgator, Bloglines, and the others to differentiate themselves with innovative new features to keep themselves ahead of the pack.

UPDATE: Scoble uses this news to build his case for Microsoft to buy Newsgator.