In Search Of: Google Plus Federation

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2011-08-23

Over the past several weeks since Google launched its Google Plus social networking tool, I've been beating the federation drum. As Google Plus designer Joseph Smarr has explained it, email has its @ symbol, which enables us to communicate with users on different domains, but social networking still lacks equivalent functionality.

I've pointed out that while Google Plus remains in a "field test" state, Google's priorities for the service, such as thorough control of who has access to which shared data, have been baked into the service from the start. If federation is a priority for Google, why isn't it that priority apparent in the foundation?

Over the past few days, I've been encouraged by evidence of just this sort of foundation in Google Plus, in the form of what appears to be hooks for the OpenSocial protocol that Google helped launch in 2007, with buy-in from heavy-hitter networks such as MySpace, orkut, Friendster, and Ning. Who needs Facebook, right? Right.

While OpenSocial didn't exactly set the world on fire back in 2007, the project is back for another round with the recent release of OpenSocial 2.0, which adds some key new features, such as support for Activity Streams. I plan on digging in to the Apache Shindig project, which is an open source implementation of OpenSocial for Java and PHP to get a better idea of what's possible with the specification.


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