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The All-Things-Social Craze

Kim Hart

The race is on to make social networks much more open and portable, all in the quest to let users spread their profile information across other Web sites.

It's been a steady drumbeat of announcements over the past few days. MySpace announced its plan to let people share their profiles with other sites, such as Ebay and Twitter, on Thursday. On Friday, Facebook announced "Facebook Connect," which lets members take their Facebook identities anywhere they want. Today, Google laid out its own plans for "Google Friend Connect," which lets webmasters add social-friendly features to their sites.

Pretty soon, just about every site may have a social-networking component, Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li wrote in her blog. While MySpace and Facebook are extending their reach even further, Google is tapping into the social Web in its own way. Google says its new feature gives site owners the tools to "attract and engage more people by giving visitors a way to connect with friends on their websites." So sites that would otherwise not have any social-networking features can, through Google, add tools that let visitors see, invite and interact with their friends.

The biggest question in my mind about these announcements is how these companies plan to leverage this new "openness craze" to bring in advertising dollars.

Li had her own thoughts on how the all-things-social movement could have money-making potential. Here's what she had to say:

"I expect that at some point in the future, participating sites will have the option of enabling monetization engines via AdSense that tap into the deep profile and user data flowing through Friend Connect -- all done, presumably, with clear user approval and transparency."

Another question I have is, does it make sense for every Web site to have a social component? Some would say yes. But for me, there are certain things I'd like to leave confined to Facebook or MySpace, without it extending to every other site I frequent. Perhaps I'm part of the minority.

By Kim Hart  |  May 12, 2008; 6:04 PM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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Social networking sites are buzzing; the debut of Google Friend Connect promises to add to that buzz. And so, the race is on to make social networks much more open and portable, according to Kim Hart in her recent blog... read more »

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I think the developers are over-estimating their audience's desire for social networking. These social applications work best with already established communities. But for years now, web developesr have been imagining that people connected by digital threads can be made into a community. So far, it hasn't happened.

Posted by: KC Brady | May 13, 2008 10:14 AM

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