Shel Holtz argues Open Social's future value

Says Shel (with my edits):
“Open Social, though, is worth paying attention to, particularly for communicators working to help their companies benefit from the current communication ecosystem. Open Social is an initiative from Google to introduce new open APIs designed to work in social networks. APIs are Application Programming Interfaces, which Wikipedia defines as “a source code interface that an operating system or library provides to support requests for services to be made of it by computer programs.”
Reading about the initiative, it seems there’s a lot that might eventually be done with it. For example, at some point you may be able to access your friends from across multiple social networks from within any one network. For now, though, the benefit (or, at least, all the discussion) is about third-party applications. If you have a Facebook account and you’ve used something like iLike or you’ve “poked” or been poked by a friend, you’ve interacted with such an application. They’re not unlike the widgets you can add to your blog or website, but they are limited to use within a social network.
The Open Social APIs allow application developers to use a non-proprietary common code to create such apps that will work the same way on all the social networks that accommodate the platform. So far 26 networks have signed on to the initiative, including market-leader MySpace, Beebo, and Orkut (the Google-owned network dominated by Brazilian users).
The estimated 200 million people who belong to social networks other than Facebook will now be able to use apps. That’s a total audience of 250 million people, which may be enough to motivate some bigger players to jump into the socnet application waters.
That’s one big reason communicators should keep an eye on Open Social. As a means of reaching audiences who are visiting centralized dot-com sites with less and less frequency, building applications that bring your content to people where they are will be a compelling alternative. Add to that the fact that LinkedIn, Salesforce.com, and Oracle are among the companies that have signed onto Open Social, and the prospects for more business adoption of socnet applications begin to look brighter. Open Social could even make it easy for business units to create social nework apps for their internal communication efforts.

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