ProgrammableWeb.com acquired by Alcatel-Lucent

programmableweb.jpgIn one of those strange cases that makes we wonder if I should really be merging this blog with Disruptive Telephony, the folks over at Programmableweb.com announced they had been acquired by Alcatel-Lucent. I've long been a fan of the ProgrammableWeb site and their long lists of APIs and mashups, so I'm thrilled for them that they have found a way to keep the site going and evolving.

Still, the marriage with ALU just seems a bit... odd... I'm admittedly still trying to wrap my brain around it a bit. The reality, though, is that the "real-time web" is one in which it is all about APIs, and making data accessible to people and developers through open APIs. To that end, it does make a certain amount of sense for a communication company like ALU to look at how it can gain more prominence in "the API game". Perhaps this is a way to gain access to a developer community and, over time, help familiarize them with ALU products and services. We'll see.

I hope for the ProgrammableWeb folks that it does work out like this:

This milestone is a great opportunity for ProgrammableWeb and our community to work with a global organization who gets what open APIs are about, who value the independence of ProgrammableWeb, and who want to grow the open API ecosystem both in the world of telecommunications and beyond. In the end this step will bring PW to a whole new level in terms of fulfilling our mission to be the go-to place for open API developers.

Congrats to the whole ProgrammableWeb team, and, for the sake of the "open Internet", I do wish them all the best continuing to promote open APIs!


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Google's orkut to launch application platform based on OpenSocial

orkut - login.jpgDoes anyone still use Orkut?

Obviously some people do and the first visit to my page in eons showed me that a couple of people I know had actually been by there recently. But in the grand "battle" between Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, etc., orkut doesn't seem to get much mention these days. I know that I joined orkut back in 2004 when it launched and you had to have an invite to get in. But a year or so later I had basically left it behind (except that my account is still there and now and then does get friend requests).

So I was a bit surprised to encounter over on Official Google Blog the post "orkut going more social" that contains this text:

"Starting this month, we're enabling developers to make their social applications available to orkut users. We'll start ramping up to more than 50 million people over the next few weeks.

To prepare for this growth, we're now accepting social applications. For a while now, developers have been able to write, test, and play with applications on orkut. Later this month, however, we're going to start rolling them out to orkut users. OpenSocial developers can submit their completed applications (deadline: Feb. 15).

To help developers ready their applications, we're offering engineering support and training. We've scheduled orkut hackathons on Feb. 14-15 from 10 am-6 pm at the Googleplex in Mountain View and via videoconference in New York. For more information or to RSVP, please email [email protected] If you can't attend, we hope to see you in the OpenSocial forums or on chat (irc://irc.freenode.net/opensocial)."

The post obviously has more information and the relevant links.

That Google is doing this is no surprise given their backing of the OpenSocial initiative. It is interesting to see the note about "ramping up to more than 50 million people". Is that the current number of active orkut users? If the Wikipedia entry is accurate (that states 67 million users in August 2007) that would certainly be plausible.

Regardless, it is great to see another social network indicating that they will have working support of OpenSocial apps soon. The more there are, the more incentive it is for app developers to develop for OpenSocial.

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MySpace enters the "application platform wars" against Facebook

MySpace Developer Platform.jpgSo today MySpace squares off against Facebook with the release of the MySpace Developer Platform. One of the key features of the "MDP" is that it is supporting the OpenSocial initiative and has a lengthy page explaining the interaction between MySpace an OpenSocial. They also provide some nice tutorials starting with (of course!) a "Hello World" and then getting right into creating an OpenSocial application.

It's intriguing to me that MySpace is not launching this with any existing high profile apps. It's really just providing a box of parts and saying... "here, have fun, go nuts!"

In fact, serious application deployment is being put on hold for a one-month period while developers try out the platform. Apps are limited to being installed by 10 users during this one-month development period, which, as other sites are mentioning, has the effect of "leveling the playing field" and giving all developers, large and small, a chance to work with the platform before it goes "live" and mass deployment of applications to MySpace's hundreds of millions of users can begin.

It will indeed be very interesting to see what developers actually do with all of those parts and what applications emerge. We'll have a clearer picture in a month, eh?

More coverage on the announcement that I found useful:

(Now, the question for me personally is this... will this be enough incentive for me to actually pay attention to my long-neglected MySpace profile? Hmmmm.... )

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May the walls start to come down... Facebook joins with Google and Plaxo in joining Dataportability.org

dataportabilitylogo.pngAs I've written about in the past, I continue to remain concerned that social networks are really just "walled gardens" that are isolated from each other. Late last week, Robert Scoble getting temporarily kicked out of Facebook brought the attention of many of us to "DataPortability.org" and its "dataportability-public" Google Group. Now, today brings word that Facebook, who has usually been a holdout in "open" announcements to date (like OpenSocial) will be joining in to the Dataportability.org project. The news can be found here:

The news is outstanding, really, for those of us who want this kind of data portability. To have basically all the major players working together will be excellent. It would, indeed, be great to have the walls start coming down...

The devil, of course, lies in the details... time will tell whether true actions will emerge out of the DataPortability.org initiative.

Still, it's a great way to start - and I've definitely joined the GoogleGroup mailing list to join in the evolution. Let's see if the walls can shake a bit, eh?

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LinkedIn also releases their application platform (or at least talks about it more)

2DC0C213-CDAD-44ED-B925-F386524AFF7D.jpgI've been too busy to comment on LinkedIn's announcement of their "Intelligent Application Platform" but there are certainly tons of others who have (see also here). Some of the posts I found most interesting were at VentureBeat and GigaOm.

LinkedIn, naturally, had a blog post with an introductory video that explains the platform.

While Facebook obviously has an enormous lead in terms of developers, it will be interesting to see what traction Linked does or does not gain. They indicate they will be supporting OpenSocial, which will allow developers to make apps that run in other OpenSocial-compliant social networks as well. They also have a strong user base within the business/professional community (include me) which could be quite attractive to developers as well.

In any event, I look forward to watching the announcements from LinkedIn as they roll out this developer program over the next few months.

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Still thinking about Google's Open Social... does it truly tear down the walls of social networks? Or just make widgets work across socnets?

200711021131Unless you have been under a rock for the past few days, you should by now be aware that Google released an API called OpenSocial. There is a new Google blog that had the announcement, which included this:

OpenSocial is a set of common APIs that will work on many different social websites, including MySpace, Hi5, Ning, orkut, and LinkedIn, among others. In addition, this allows developers to learn one API, then write a social application for any of those sites. Learn once, write anywhere, if you will. And because it's built on web standards like HTML and JavaScript, developers don't have to learn a custom programming language.

The list of OpenSocial partners is quite extensive... basically everyone in the social networking space except Facebook, but also including other companies such as Salesforce.com and Oracle. Having the big players like MySpace and LinkedIn is definitely key. Google has also provided a wealth of information:

I find it all intriguing. There is a great amount of talk in the blogosphere about how this "tears down the walls" of social networks... and it does - in one aspect. It seems to me that this is really a direct shot at the Facebook Platform in that it gives application developers the ability to create applications that work across multiple networks. So from the point-of-view of a developer, this truly does open up the world of social networks. You can now write an app that is not just restricted to the confines of Facebook's walled garden, but instead can run in any of the other social networks out there (that support OpenSocial).

So it solves part of the problem out there in social networking... and it looks like quite a compelling way to do so. I'm certainly going to be reading the tutorials and experimenting with sample code.

But please let's remember that there are other issues with the walled nature of social networks. For instance:

  • Why do I have to sign in with a different username and password to each of them? Why can't I just have a common (and secure) username/password that I use? (such as OpenID)
  • Why do I have to recreate my friends list in each social network? (something the "social network portability" folks are looking at)

OpenSocial lets apps be created that work across multiple networks. I commend the folks behind it and supporting it. But let's please remember that it solves only one part of the overall "open" issue.

I need to really play with it more before I can comment further. In the meantime I'm capturing here a number of links related to OpenSocial that I have found useful:

Stay tuned for more...

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SocialNetworkDevCamp - an unconference for developers interested in mashups and APIs in social media tools...

imageWhat are you doing on September 8th and 9th, 2007?  If  you are in the San Francisco Bay area (or can get there), and more precisely Richmond, California (a bit north of Oakland and Berkeley), it appears that there will now be an "unconference" called "SocialNetworkDevCamp" with the purpose:

SocialNetworkDevCamp will focus on API and Widget development from Facebook, Twitter, Pownce, Linked In and others. The camp will also start the process of identifying open APIs and data structures which would facilitate the creation of open standards for social networking.

Very cool to see.... and hopefully it will stimulate a good bit of discussion and action around the potential mashups that can occur between all these various services.  "Open standards for social networking" would also be very good to see!

If are interested in attending, just edit the wiki page and add yourself to the list of participants (or volunteers).

(Tip of the hat to Julian Bond for raising this issue in a Skype groupchat focused on mashups.)