Google Rewrites the Online You

Late Friday Google redefined who you are on the net with the release into the wild of the Google Social Graph API.

Last week, your Amazon profile didn’t know who your connections were on Plaxo Pulse, your career history on LinkedIn or that you were using Twitter to talk about how much your day job sucked. Now it can – or will, if online social networks applications get on the Google bandwagon and – fortunately – you give your active permission.

Google’s lead programmer, Brad Fitzpatrick, creator of LiveJournal and OpenID, described the Google Open Social API in a post on the Google site.

Of course Google – with its datacenters of information has the most to gain and a strong interest in making its advertising channels to you even more personal and relevant. But it doesn’t control this new standard, it will just do what it does best – find the pages that adopt the new API, filter and sort them.

Already, Plaxo.com has adopted the new web standard to give its users automatically a more unified public profile – just mark your blogs with a bit of code (XFN and FOAF markup – for example, changing a link on one of your sites linking to another from <a mce_thref=”http://kevinmarks.com&#8221; >me</a> to <a mce_thref=”http://kevinmarks.com&#8221; rel=”me” >me</a>, in a way very similar to how Technorati tags have been used for years.) The Social Graph API connects with on Google’s OpenSocial APIs released in November for running small applications on a host of participating social networks.”We do see the Google Social Graph API as a key building block for the open social web,” said John McCrea, VP for Marketing at Plaxo. “With its arrival (alongside OpenID, Oauth, microformats), almost all the key enablers are in place.”

“One of the key aspects of Pulse is the ability to aggregate feeds from all the places you are creating content. Before this new API, that required a user to manually input their username for each of the different services they use. Now, if they are publicly asserting linkages (such as between their twitter profile and their blog, and so on), we can use the API to discover all the placing they are publicly sharing content, and present them in a list. With a few clicks, the user can choose which ones to include for sharing inside Pulse and on their new public profile page,” McCrea added.

While Plaxo is the only major online networking site to announce support so far, others are expected to follow with several prominent social networking bloggers and programmers enthusiastically supporting the new programming standard.

While you’re still going to have to manually define who you are and who you know on the web (except at Plaxo’s Pulse), expect to see both large social network players and small startups getting behind the Google-proposed standard: “By itself, it does not dramatically change the direction of the web. But together with a few other key building blocks, it lays the foundation for the next phase of the web. 2008 is going to be a year of enormous change, as it becomes possible to socially-enable any website, application, or device,” McCrea predicted.

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