Google Unleashes the Social Graph; It's A Bunch of Theory

Well Google is at again. First they launch OpenGadget with the initial support of a coalition of the willing and then come up with this new project called the Social Graph API. Ultimately this new project is great in theory. It is preparing for the day that social networks decide to open up their list of contacts publicly to the web. As I wrote yesterday, even with the new DataPortability workgroup, the odds of social networks suddenly opening up is extremely slim.

The new Social Graph API leverages the XFN (XHTML Friends Network) and FOAF (Friend-of-a-Friend) standards that up until now were practically obsolete. Just as OpenSocial is simply a standard, so is the new Social Graph API. I can guarantee you that my mom is not going to start updating her FOAF file anytime soon and honestly, I don’t see myself adding a FOAF or XFN file to my website either.

While my initial response may sound overly critical of the Social Graph API, the API is the biggest step toward an interconnected web of identifiable individuals and their friends. We need companies like Google to take these types of steps as a statement if nothing else. This step is a knock against Facebook and is part of Google’s strategy to “out open” Facebook. The only problem with this logic is that Facebook has almost 70 million users and the Social Graph API is currently limited to Twitter, Flickr and Six Apart.

Do you think this new Social Graph API will gain traction? Do you think people will start developing tools that leverage this new service?