Google planning to leverage social network data ?

September 21st, 2007

TechCrunch has an interesting post, Google To “Out Open” Facebook On November 5, on Google’s plans to counter Facebook by making their social network data portable and interoperable.

“Yesterday a select group of fifteen or so industry luminaries attended a highly confidential meeting at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View to discuss the company’s upcoming plans to address the “Facebook issue.” … Google’s goal – to fight Facebook by being even more open than the Facebook Platform. If Facebook is 98% open, Google wants to be 100%. The short version: Google will announce a new set of APIs on November 5 that will allow developers to leverage Google’s social graph data. They’ll start with Orkut and iGoogle (Google’s personalized home page), and expand from there to include Gmail, Google Talk and other Google services over time.” (link)

A thought leader on this at Google is said to be Brad Fitzpatrick, formerly of Six Apart. His Thoughts on the Social Graph post last month was commented on in semantic web circles. RDF would be a great representation standard to make this work of course. It’s not the only way, but it has a lot to offer. Brad’s post and associated slides do show lots of graph examples that sure look like RDF to me. There is also quite a bit of RDF discussion on the Social Network Portability Google Group.

Techcrunch offers this scenario

“In the long run, Google seems to be planning to add a social layer on top of the entire suite of Google services, with Orkut as their initial main source of social graph information and, as I said above, possibly adding third party networks to the back end as well. Social networks would have little choice but to participate to get additional distribution and attention.” (link)

which sounds believable.