This past February at Social Graph Foo Camp, Google released the first version of their Social Graph API. (see past Radar coverage) This API was focused on making it easier for developers to understand who a user is and find their other accounts around the web via publicly declared data.
Today I’m driving up to Foo Camp along with Brad Fitzpatrick, the developer of the API, where he has just pushed a new API method live called “OtherMe”. This new methods focuses on making it easier for developers to get a holistic view of a user, their feeds, and some basic profile information. You can see this for my profiles in a pretty form from the API. Unfortunately it hasn’t been documented yet, but if you’re familiar with the existing API it is pretty easy to figure out and real documentation is on its way. This is another large step forward when it comes to opening the social graph. Today it has become many times easier to welcome a new user to your service by presenting a list of people they already know versus asking them if you can scrape contacts from their email address book(s).
Part of Brad’s announcement of these changes is below:
Note that this is simply a mechnical transformation on the /lookup method, not offering anything that wasn’t possible before. It’s just that the transformation was tedious and error-prone and silly to have to repeat in each client library. Hopefully putting it in the server makes it more convenient for everybody.
Why is this useful? A lot of websites are now letting you list your other websites/profiles on your profile, but it’s just as annoying to repeat this information on every site as it is to redefine your friends everywhere. If the site incrementally hits this API in the background as you enter profile URLs, the site can then recommend you link/share your other websites. Examples of sites that let you enter your other profile URLs and could use this API include: Pownce, Digg, Vox, Typepad, Movable Type, Plaxo, Friendfeed, Mugshot. And that’s just off the top of my head from sites I’m familiar with. I’m sure there’s a bunch more.