This service will enable social features on any website with the addition of a snippet of code. Subscribers will be able to pick and choose from a menu of functionality, including member registration, invites, members galleries, reviews and third party OpenSocial applications.
Here’s a video demo of Google Friend Connect being added to a site. The guy narrating this thing sounds totally blown on some kind of heavy Mountain View hydro.
Do OpenID / Google / Facebook stuff on any site
Users who have OpenId’s or Google accounts will be able to log in to Friend Connect widgets anywhere they find them, allowing you to, for example, interact with Facebook friends, check your gmail, pushing data to or pulling it from the parent web application.
So, as I understand it, even if you’re visiting a Friend Connect enabled website for the first time, and the site has for argument’s sake an Orkut or a Facebook widget, you’ll be able to interact with that set of friends immediately without leaving the site. I guess this is a major step in the direction of the web becoming a more open platform for social interaction.
A downside to all this is that Friend Connect widgets will apparently run in iFrames, meaning that activity isn’t really even taking place on the host website. This means you don’t have direct access to the stats around how your users interact with Friend Connect features.. unless of course that access is provided by Google through Google Analytics or a similar interface.
Myspace and Facebook: A wider trend towards openness
Combine this with Myspace and Facebook’s very recent moves in the direction of Data Portability, and there is a huge emerging trend here towards openness on the social web, and ultimately the realisation of the “web as a platform” ideal. What this means is the potential to run any app on any website with any network of friends.
Google Friend Connect demo
There is currently a demo of an embedded Friend Connect iLike application on musician Ingrid Michaelson’s site. You basically log in in the popup, and you can rate her music, add it to your iLike profile, basically all the usual iLike functionality you might use in your iLike Facebook app.
Very cool and I can definitely see how this is going to benefit people like musicians who want to get off the whole institutionalised marketing merrigoround and start doing things for themselves.
Sounds like good news all round for the web as a whole.
Update: Here’s a video of the Friend Connect announcement
Update: Just heard via TechCrunch that Facebook will not be open to Friend Connect traffic. Sounds very much like cutting off the face to spite the other stuff. Bad news for Zuckerberg, his company and in the shorter term, until the social landscape reorganises itself, the rest of us.
I think this is really a sign of weak leadership from Mark Zuckerberg. External pressures are no doubt huge for him and I think they have gotten to him this time round.
Filed under: Social Media on May 12th, 2008