Is OpenSocial Shindig a trojan horse?

No, not that kind of trojan horse but you will see what I mean later on. The more I learn about OpenSocial, the more I think it is making a strategic play as the de facto social networking standard not just for gadget apps container but also how to link containers (as Chris Saad puts it) as it pertains to data portability.

Here’s why I think so. OpenSocial has a reference implementation Shindig (written in Java) that any social site can drop into its infrastructure, hook up some connections between Shindig and their backend and presto, the site now supports OpenSocial apps (at least in theory). Quoting from this blog

As Google product manager Dan Peterson describes in Let’s get this shindig started: “Shindig is a new project in the Apache Software Foundation’s incubator (as per the formal proposal) that aims to provide an open source reference implementation of the entire OpenSocial stack — Shindig’s goal is to allow new sites to start hosting social apps in well under an hour’s worth of work.” This source “is based upon code that has been powering Google Gadgets and iGoogle for the past few years and is meant to bootstrap the Shindig project.”

Did you catch that part about “in well under an hour’s worth of work”? That’s very appealing to social sites because it is of minimal impact to their existing code base. At the minimum, it gives them great incentive to try it out and see how well it works. And once it is in, it usually stays. That means OpenSocial can easily proliferate across social sites making it a practiced standard in the wild.

OpenSocial is known for making gadget apps portable but they are going beyond that already. There is currently a proposal to make OpenSocial APIs RESTful. IMO, this is the “linking containers” bit. RESTful APIs is an open standard and can be called by anyone through HTTP essentially opening up the social site users data through OpenSocial. And the more social sites with OpenSocial support, the more it becomes a standard in the wild.

Maybe I am off the mark here, if you think so, I would like to hear from you (leave a comment) why.

1 Response to “Is OpenSocial Shindig a trojan horse?”

  1. 1 Bill August 9, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Yes, I agree with your assessment in that they are trying to make this the de facto standard for social networking data and containers. But it seems to me that they are being pretty upfront about that, so I don’t see the point about the Trojan horse. They have an open source implementation (now in PHP as well as Java) and it is being used by numerous social networking sites (Orkut of course, Hi5, mySpace follows the protocol, etc.) It seems to be only a Trojan horse the way that the Apache web server is a “Trojan horse” – everyone uses it, it’s free and open source and makes developers of social network sites easier. Seems to be a lot to like about it.

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