Replacing the thousands of social networks with a single big social network? No, but a golden mine, maybe the best service of Google for me and my 287 web sites and tens of blogs, every one with its own users till now.
So, from now on any of us can have his own social network, using Google Friend Connect. In order to become a social site, you have to add a snippet of code, picking and choosing from built-in functionality like user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community. This way, your visitors will be able to see, invite, and interact with new friends, or, using secure authorization APIs, with existing friends from social sites on the web, including Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, orkut, Plaxo, and more.
“Google Friend Connect is about helping the ‘long tail’ of sites become more social,” said David Glazer, a director of engineering at Google. “Many sites aren’t explicitly social and don’t necessarily want to be social networks, but they still benefit from letting their visitors interact with each other. That used to be hard. Fortunately, there’s an emerging wave of social standards — OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, and the data access APIs published by Facebook, Google, MySpace, and others. Google Friend Connect builds on these standards to let people easily connect with their friends, wherever they are on the web, making ‘any app, any site, any friends’ a reality.”
Google promises for site owners a better traffic (people will bring their friends with them and can opt-in to publish their activities on those sites back into their social network, attracting even more visitors), an increase in user engagement (more interesting content and richer social experiences by using OpenSocial applications), and less work by implementing social components without hiring a programming team or becoming a social network.
TechCrunch give us details after Erick Shonfeld talked with Google engineering director David Glazer: ” …if you go to a Website that is part of Friend Connect, you will be able to sign in under your Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, Orkut, or Plaxo IDs (you choose which one you want to sign in under, with more options coming). Then you authorize the site to go out and retrieve your friend’s list from that network. Any of those friends who also happen to be members of the site you are on will then show up and you can interact with them.”
Let’s start!, I told myself. And I pushed the button “Sign-up for preview release”. A new window, with an online form. I filled it and pushed the Submit button. But the preview release is just a short notice: “Something bad happened. Don’t worry, though. The Spreadsheets Team has been notified and we’ll get right on it.”
I tried several times, with Firefox as well as with Internet Explorer. Same result. Very beta!
(See the full Press Release)