Wednesday, 31 October 2007

The Meta-Network - now it's getting interesting

Today Google announced the launch of the new standard OpenSocial for tomorrow, which should enable third-party programmers to develop widgets which could be integrated in any social software application observing the standard. By requiring external applications to exchange a standardized set of metadata between the networks, Google is hoping to connect a wide range of different social networks under one framework. The opportunity to plug into these networks with accustomed widget application has already propelled the recent success of Facebook and is what developers were waiting for. The end result could be a global standard which would connect all existing networking applications and form one single global network.

This is actually exactly what I was waiting for. However, I am curious to which extent this network standard will deserve to be called open, namely to which extent Google will control and monitor the data which is exchanged. The fear of course is that privacy standards might be violated with one company controlling the user data of every social networking application which adheres to the standard. While from a technological point of view, this is the right step, a monopoly by Google on global social networking data is surely not desirable. In my opinion, this issue calls for a global identification standard in context of a United Nations regulatory framework. Cleary it should not be monopolized by a single private-sector player. But I still don't have an appropriate concept in mind for this, so I'm eager to learn how the discussion will further develop.

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