Open Social: a new universe of social applications all over the web

Marc Andreessen discusses the Open Social project.

My company, Ning, is participating in this week's launch of a new open web API called Open Social, which is being spearheaded by Google and joined by a wide range of partners including Google's own Orkut, LinkedIn, Hi5, Friendster, Salesforce.com, Oracle, iLike, Flixster, RockYou, and Slide.

In a nutshell, Open Social is an open web API that can be supported by two kinds of developers:

* "Containers" -- social networking systems like Ning, Orkut, LinkedIn, Hi5, and Friendster, and...

* "Apps" -- applications that want to be embedded within containers -- for example, the kinds of applications built by iLike, Flixster, Rockyou, and Slide.

This is the exact same concept as the Facebook platform, with two huge differences:

* With the Facebook platform, only Facebook itself can be a "container" -- "apps" can only run within Facebook itself. In contrast, with Open Social, any social network can be an Open Social container and allow Open Social apps to run within it.

* With the Facebook platform, app developers build to Facebook-proprietary languages and APIs such as FBML (Facebook Markup Language) and FQL (Facebook Query Language) -- those languages and APIs don't work anywhere other than Facebook -- and then the apps can only run within Facebook. In contrast, with Open Social, app developers can build to standard HTML and Javascript, and their apps can then run in any Open Social container.

If you recall how I previously described the Facebook platform as "a dramatic leap forward for the Internet industry", you'll understand why I think Open Social is the next big leap forward!

Open Social takes the Facebook platform concept and provides an open standard approach that can be used by the entire web. Open Social is an open way for everyone to do what Facebook has done...

...including Facebook itself, potentially -- more on that below.

Read more at Marc Andreessen's blog.

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