Social networks are designed to be all about friends, right? Yet when it comes to the competition behind the scenes at social networks, I'm reminded of the '70s song by War, "Why can't we be friends?"
That song especially comes to mind with Google's OpenSocial Foundation, a nonprofit that was officially established this week to promote the open developer platform OpenSocial. OpenSocial is a common set of application protocol interfaces (APIs) for social networks. It's designed to make it easy for companies to create a social network or related applications and have them work seamlessly with other social networks using the platform. (Some argue it's also designed to compete with Facebook's developer platform.)
And if companies aren't comfortable with the OpenSocial premise--for fear that it's just an anticompetitive ploy--they now have a nonprofit foundation that will help ease their mind.
"This organization seeks to ensure that OpenSocial will remain implementable by all, at no cost, in perpetuity," wrote Dan Peterson on the OpenSocial Foundation blog.
Specifically, the foundation will provide operational guidelines about the technology and details on intellectual property as the platform changes and grows.
(The whole thing reminds me of when Microsoft submitted its streaming media compression technology, or codecs, to an industry standards body so that they would be adopted by Hollywood. Critics were wary of the software giant's past monopolistic behavior.)
For its part, the OpenSocial Foundation has a new board of directors that spans the industry. It includes Anil Dharni, director of products at the social network hi5; Google Director of Engineering David Glazer; Joe Greenstein, founder of the movie site Flixster; Allen Hurff, a vice president of engineering at MySpace; and Sam Pullara, a vice president of platforms at Yahoo.
The foundation will choose two other members from the community at large by vote. Perhaps someone from Facebook?