Hopefully the last of the posts that I should have written last year – a while back I wrote about Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect, I mentioned three open source data projects – OpenID, OpenSocial and OAuth.

I only mentioned them briefly in the thinking that they deserved attention separate to that topic – they’ll play a key part in the progression of social media technology, but the three are part of a bigger issue. That of data portability – one perhaps more concerned with my current Semantic Web conversation.

While the three have been separately developed over the past three (or so) years, their popularity and general implementation are becoming ever more widespread. In combination, they offer very powerful potential in leveraging data, interoperability thereof between systems and ultimately offer standardising methods and protocols in which data ‘portability’ becomes possible.

In very, (very) short:

  • OpenSocial (wiki) is a set of common APIs for web-based social network applications.
  • OpenID (wiki) is an decentralised user identification standard, allowing users to log onto many services with the same digital identity.
  • OAuth (wiki) is an protocol to simplify and standardised secure API authorisation and authentication for desktop, mobile and web applications.

 
There’s a ton of reading fired from each of those links.

But more than anything, I very strongly recommend watching the following presentation by Joseph Smarr of Plaxo, taken from Google’s I/O conference last year:

Google I/O 2008 – OpenSocial, OpenID, and OAuth: Oh, My!

He covers each of these open source building blocks in detail, collectively considering them as a palatable set of options for developers in creating social media platforms. He presents the compelling engagement they can offer social websites, how they fit together in a holistic way so developers aren’t constantly building from scratch and how he envisions the social web evolving.

He critiques that today’s platforms are essentially broken, highlighting the fragmentation of social media sites – that their rapid growth forced developers to build each platform to be built separately, from scratch so therefore differently, so that each platform has their own silo, headed in a different direction. That the very nature of social network infrastructure and architecture is still very nascent.

We are at breaking point, social media sites still assume that a every new user has never been on a social network site before. We’ve all experience having to register and re-register, upload profile information, find friends to then confirm friends – it’s not scaling any more.

Not only has it gotten to the point that we as consumers are experiencing social network fatigue, but users are also, understandably, opting out of joining even newer networks, pre-empting the nauseous motions they’ll have to repeat.

It’s very easily digestible – not at all deeply technical until the Q&A section. Do watch!

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