This year there have been some developments related to the challenges we have with many different and closed social networks. Facebook, MySpace, Reunion, LinkedIn, Xing and many many more gives me a headache. There are several problems and challenges related to your identity online and technologies that make up the ‘Open Stack’ like OpenSocial, PortableContacts, OAuth, XRDS-Simple and OpenID is designed to resolve this. I think that ‘Open’ has had quit a lot of attention this year.
Log in with your preferred identity on the web
If you are active and comment much on articles, blogs etc, the problem is to appear with one single identity. Lately both Facebook and Google has launched technologies (among others like MySpace) that enables us to take our identity with us around the web for all sites implementing this functionality. This is a great step forward for social data portability. My blog now supports both Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect. What does this mean? First of all this means that you have the ability to log in to my site with your preferred identity. This could be Facebook account, Google account, OpenID account, Yahoo account, or AIM account. If you leave a comment on one of my post you will be identified with this account. Her is a great video from the guys at Facebook showing how to implement Facebook Connect on your blog or site.
For me as a user it is great to be able to hook my identity (for example my OpenID account) on to websites where I leave a comment. The ability to log in to a new site or register as a new user and only use a button like Facebook Connect is fantastic. It is easy, convenient and lays the foundation for new social services. TripAdvisor did not manage to success with their restaurant reviews until they hooked up with Facebook. The problem for them relates to critical mass. They created a Facebook Application (LocalPick) and experienced a tremendous success
What is the long term implications?
If we look beyond blogs all sites that utilizes user generated content like reviews, ratings and so forth should be able to make use of the ongoing social data portability trend. In fact this trend should be perfect in the critical mass perspective. When I look at TripAdvisor today, they have not yet implemented the ability for users to log in with their preferred identity and use that ID to interact with the site.
For the companies that wins the battle over your identity this should give enormous opportunities. Who will win this race? Facebook, Google, MySpace? I don’t know. Imagine that on 90% of all sites (blogs, magazines, news, classifieds…) all the user generated content, like reviews, ratings, comments or listings comes through Facebook or Googles identity. This should give them a possibility to among other things further develop their ad-systems. They may utilize all the information and statistics that the users give them through their use of the web! Here is a great article at TechCrunch that reflects some of this thoughts.
Remark about Google Friend Connect
At the end; Just one reflection about the Google Friend Connect. If you are logged in to your Google account and try the friend connect on a site, you will not be given the possibility to choose other accounts. Log out of your Google account first and try the join button and see the difference.