Wednesday, May 21, 2008

SMX Madrid - The Programmble Social Web

Right. I've found some (weak) wi-fi and a set of translation headphones (currently buzzing in my ear) so I'm going to see whether I can do some live blogging from SMX Madrid.

It's 1 o'clock Madrdid time and next up is Eric Tholome from Google. He's the Group Product Manager, Applications there and I think he's going to be talking about open social. The title of the presentation is "The Programmable Social Web". He looks to have at least 7 slides - which is loads for a Googler in a search conference.

Google are also presenting in the other room but I can't get translation for that. Sorry Luisella!

Okay... so far Tomy's speaking in Spanish. No translation!

Oh! Success. The translation software is perfect for Eric... no wait, he's speaking in English! Score. :)

Wow. A patchwork of 10,000 gadgets! These logo swarm slides get bigger for each conference. Who had the time to put this together?

Eric talks about phase 0. Destination websites. Web 1.0.

Then there's phase 1. Users creating their own sites by taking content form one site (RSS) and building their own pages with it. For example; iGoogle.

Phase 2. People start taking applications (rather than just content) from one source and building their own stuff with them. For example, iGoogle evolves from just being RSS modles to showing apps.

Phase 3. Containers - those sites who can host gadgets - start to appear everywhere. For example; combining a real estate gagdet with a map gadget.

Phase 4. The applications evolve into 'creative applications' - really clever and impressive looking ones. For example; IM Google gadgets or Starbuck's interactive map gadget or Honda's sponsorship of Fall Out Boy through the gadget ad. (P.S. Google are keen to push gadget ads)

Eric notes that the web has become an eco system for gadgets.

Under a slide called "Everyone's Writing Code" Eric shows a curve going up that takes data from iGoogle. It shows that they've now got about 20,000+ gadgets and 100,000 sites acting as containers for gadgets. The curve goes up as it plots gadget numbers against time.

Guess what - there's a longtail of gadgets too. Google data; 50% of traffic comes from outside the top 125 gadgets (that's taken from a base of 500 gadgets).

Woot! Google uses a slide that shows a dinosaur, then an asteroid and then a mammal; here comes the evolution of the web speach (I hope he mentions the Flying Spaghetti Monster intelligent design theory too - just to balance things).

Ah... yes; the shift to the browser being the next operating system of choice (I think I can hear someone in Microsoft HQ weeping).

So... roll in OpenSocial. Why is it important? Google says the web is better if the web is social. Eric notes how annoying it was to always have to re-add your friend data whenever you started a new site. He admits that Facebook has been very important. OpenSocial is here to let many social sites have access to not only a gadget eco-system but also to this common set of social data.

Eric stresses that Google doesn't want all the social sites to merge. They want OpenSocial bridge the gap between networks.

OpenSocial allows more applications to be developed. Rather than spend time writing conversion code so aps can run on different sites - the time can be spent writing more aps. It also means that more websites can run more aps. The result? More users will be able to experience the joy of applications.

OpenSocial is not GoogleSocial. It's very much, Eric says, a partner driven project. MySpace and Yahoo, for example, are partners. (Hey; if I was Google I might look into advertising on MySpace and Yahoo... oh... wait. Um.)

PayPal's in OpenSocial. NewsGator. CurrentTV. - Wah. He had a slide of small print that listed lots of OpenSocial partners. I hope I had time to cherry pick three good examples.

There are 5 categories of OpenSocial API
1) People and Friends (access friend info via API)
2) Activities (what friends are doing API)
3) Persistance (Store and share API)
4) Gadgets core (utilities)
5) Gadgets Feature-Specific (interface utlities; flash, for example)

What is Shindig? An apache license container which allows you to serve OpenSocial applications. It takes a little work but not that much. It's open source. Ning is a champion example.

Google are introducing REST APIs for OpenSocial - coming later, working on now - becase not everyone has a JavaScript enviorment.

Eric won't go into more details here but the REST APIs will also allow OpenSocial to go mobile.

So, what about Friend Connect? This helps every site provide some social features with just a snippet of code. In the past you had to use something like Shindig which, of course, meant you had to do some programming. Friend Connect makes its easier to get started with OpenSocial - you just need a few snippets of code from Friend Connect.

Once on Friend Conect you can;
- user registration
- invitations
- members gallery
- message posting
- reviews
- OpenSOcial applications

So, a possible summary here is that Friend Connect is here to help encourage OpenSocial adoption.

What do users get from Friend Connect?
- log in with existing credentials
- see who among their friends are already registered at the site
- invite friends from other social networks

Eric uses the Ingrid Michaelson example. She's a singer and not a coder. Just a few snippets of code from her friends at Friend Connect allows her to enhance her site. We can see that Eric (who uses a Calvin icon!) is logged in to her site and that Ingrid has added the iLike application to her site.

Google are making sure users stay in control of their data. Privacy is important. That's a key point to remember as Friend Connect and OpenSocial lets visitors use one set of data to log into lots of places.

Ah... OpenSocial is not just for friends. There's an Enterprise potential which Google reckons is largely untapped. Business partners can interact. Eric asks us to imagine a sales person on OpenSocial (actually, Eric, I can... not sure I want sales people stalking me on OpenSocial...)

Let's look at some business sites in the OpenSocial partnership; LinkedIn, SalesForce, Viadeo, Xing and Orcale. Not bad, huh?

Eric's wrapping up with some resource URLs. You can find the Google ones easily so here's Shindig;

Thanks Eric!