Don Dodge has an excellent post today where he suggests the Open Social hype machine has spun out of control. I don’t really agree with him because I think Open Social is a sincere effort by Google to create the truly open social networking many have been wanting for some time. At the same time I would say there are a lot of challenges with Open Social, and it certainly was an aggressive move to kick Microsoft in the Face-book and take the winds out of the Microsoft Facebook partnership deal. Google is remarkably good at being sincere, innovative, brilliant, and ruthless all at the same time. In fact it’s become a hallmark of their success though they never seem to acknowledge the ruthlessness of some of their decisions – it’s kind of a collective delusion at Google that what’s good for the Google is good for the gander. This is often true, but not always.
Back to Don’s interesting point: What happens if a friend of yours – on whose profile you appear as a “friend”, goes over to a porn site which is using Open Social networking. Does your smiling mug and name wind up appearing next to objectionable material? Yikes – you could lose your job, wife, and family all in one fell Open Social swoop and you never even did anything !
Although I can’t say be sure I’m confident this problem has been solved. Probably via some form of content controls or content ratings for sites that are allowed to participate. Will there be bugs in this? Of course, as Don notes Plaxo already had a problem with their Open Social implementation, but on balance I think it’s still reasonable to see this as a social networking sea change, albeit one that will take some time to shake out.