May 12

Brady Forrest

Brady Forrest

Google Friend Connect Previews Tonight

Later today Google is going to preview Friend Connect (it's not live yet at, a product that lets any website host OpenSocial applications. These applications will enable a site's user to interact with their social network from other sites (assuming they are logged in). Initially users will be able to see their networks from Facebook (using their APIs), Google Talk, and Orkut. Future participants will include hi5 and plaxo.

Initially Google will be letting websites in slowly. Upon acceptance webmasters will be able to submit their website (URL and name) and select colors. They can then select applications for their site from a new application gallery.

The user experience is simple. When a user comes to a site in the Friend Connect program they can sign into any social network that is sharing their data. Their data is not actually shared with the site. Impressively Google is supporting OpenID and OAuth in addition to their own standard OpenSocial.

The name is practically the same as Facebook's new program Facebook Connect, but the two are, at this point quite different. From the sound of it the yet-to-launch Facebook Connect will let users of different social networks (or apps that have social networks) link their accounts. The user can take their Facebook authentication, identity, social network and privacy settings to other sites. Unlike Facebook Connect, Friend Connect does not merge the data of any of the applicable social networks; they all remain in their individual data silos.

Those are issues that will come in time. The Google representatives (David Glazer, Engineering Director
and Mussie Shore, Product Manage) I spoke with were very open ended about how data might merge between sites in the future.

ilike artists dashboard

I was not super impressed at first blush. What real advantage does this offer to a site-owner if they aren't able to tie their own content into the user base? It reminded me of Google Gadgets on any website announcement of 2006. However I spoke with Hadi Partovi, co-CEO of iLike, and now at least can see how and why artists might use Friend Connect. iLike runs an artist dashboard that lets artists "write once, publish everywhere". This allowed 200,000 participating artists to update a number of social networks and sites, but up till now their personal website was not included.

At the CampfireOne tonight Google will launch the application gallery (don't expect there to be too many) and some participating sites like

Google briefed a lot of sites on this release and there is more coverage at TechCrunch, CNET and Techmeme.

tags: web 2.0  | comments: 4   | Sphere It

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Comments: 4

  Josh Patterson [05.12.08 12:35 PM]

This seems more like a pre-emptive power move than anything; The web doesnt need a central point to control data, I think this move is more about fear than anything, fear of data being auto discovered and not moving through a yahoo, a google, a facebook. I think they will get some adoption amongst their base, but at the same time, the dam has cracked and I dont think they have enough fingers to plug all of the leaks.

  Eric Brown [05.13.08 05:09 AM]


I totally disagree. I think this is a sign of evolution. The web is connecting people in ways that were only in sci-fi movies 10-20 years ago. Remember the movies where people talk to each other on screens (Spaceballs)? That is a reality now.

Read the article about web 3.0 in the new Website Magazine and you will see that the move is towards connecting people and creating understanding and meaning world-wide.

Google FriendConnect (provided it works right) is part of this, combine it with Facebook and the BlogIt tool and Facebook Connect and you have a social powerhouse connecting you to a huge range of people without all the time once involved in social networking.

And I am curious as to what dam has broken?

  Nicko [05.13.08 05:55 AM]

Irony, you has it.

  Josh Patterson [05.13.08 10:28 AM]


True this is a sign of evolution, but in terms of how they are nerfing the usage mechanics, its not that good of a thing. If you read Doc Searls, Chris Messina, et al

on their articles about "owning" and "controlling" your data, you'll see that how Big Data is lending your data back to you is really not that great of a deal.

Yes. Its evolution, just like I outlined in
but in my knee-jerk reaction I neglected to say why I thought it was a pre-emptive move; This is a pre-emptive move because at this point Big Data (yahoo, myspace, facebook, google) sees whats coming, they see sites doing interop, they see data discovery coming; A lot of these newer technologies will bring about less centralized data and more data spread about the internet linked together via caching and at runtime.

Most of whats been outlined by Big Data so far has a catch in it; by that I mean there is always a "oh, and you cant cache the data" or "hey, you can use the data, but lets keep using our api to get it. forever." It's a function of control, of maintaining market position, of maintaining the ability to be profitable (as all good public companies do -- and I'm not blaming them for that, thats how the game works, those are the rules companies play by). Markets tend to operate by what the current conditions dictate (see also, music, the internet, and the RIAA). Up until recently, the concept of linked data was more along the lines of "go to myspace, log in, use data in the silo" --- and thats what the market expected, and thats what it tolerated. Things are changing fast, though, and now that we have lots and lots o' data containers all around the web, the market (here, users) are getting tired of constraints, of having to re-upload, to re-enter data; Demand will begin to slide towards linked data, towards a user experience that requires less work by the user and gives them more reward --- and this will be the new benchmark for how user experience is measured (until another shift occurs, and the market is constantly in flux). As companies try to enforce artificial constraints such as "you cant use your data in X way" some other up and comer will way "oh really? well, you can use it however you want here, come on in!" and the market will speak with its feet --- it will shift.

Big Data knows this, they have highly educated people manning the ship. But a basic tenant of business is also "increase stockholder equity", and they do that by defending current position from threats. Linked data is a threat to their current position which they have much invested in, as it shifts value from holding data towards creating relationships between data coupled with moving data to the most appropriate usage.

So when I said this is a pre-emptive move, I meant "they are responding to a threat", as they should, as they have already projected the evolution of the data on the web. More progressive data interop projects are popping up everywhere, and these moves are meant to show "hey we are hip, we are with it" while they formulate how to replan their current business models to work with coming trends in linked data.

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