OpenSocial makes the web better

As the web goes, so goes Google, and that's why we care about making the web better. Five months ago, we launched Google Gears to make the web better by making it work offline. Now, we want to make the web better by making it more social.

A tremendous amount of activity is occurring on social networks these days. Hundreds of millions of people share photos, rate movies, and throw virtual sheep at one another. All these social networks are looking to give their communities more and more things to do -- and they realize they can't do it on their own. They need to open up and become platforms for developers to extend. So, many social networks have looked at, or launched, their own APIs that typically do the same kinds of things: give access to user profiles and friend networks, and allow an application to post activities so that everyone's circle of friends knows what the others are doing. All of this has been good news, because developers could get their applications onto a social network.

But there's a problem: it wasn't one or two social networks doing this, but ten or fifteen. Now, to get on all the social networks a developer has had to customize their application for each one. When your "development team" is just one or two people, the proliferation of APIs forces you to make tough choices, because you can't do that much one-off work. Not only is this situation bad for developers, it's bad for consumers too: When developers can't afford to do the work to make their applications work on a certain social network, the people using those networks lose out.

That's why today we're excited to introduce OpenSocial, a set of common APIs that make it easy to create and host social applications on the web. OpenSocial allows developers to write an application once that will run anywhere that supports the OpenSocial APIs.

It's good for developers because it makes it easier for them to focus on making their web apps better; they get lots of distribution with a lot less work. It's good for websites, because they can tap into the creativity of the largest possible developer community (and no longer have to compete with one another for developer attention). And finally, it's good for users, because they get more applications in more places. Global members of the OpenSocial community include MySpace,, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo,, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and XING.

We were thrilled to see so many partners turn out for our very first CampFire One event, a small gathering of developers at the Googleplex. They do the best job of explaining why they support this vision of an open, programmable web. And so in the spirit of being social, we want to share the video from tonight's event.

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