Notes from Google Campfire One

Google Campfire OneTonight, I attended Google’s Campfire One event where David Glazer, Director of Engineering, and Mussie Shore, Product Manager, debuted Google Friend Connect (site just launched live). While Google held a press call announcing Friend Connect this morning, Campfire One was a more intimate gathering for the social network and application developer community. Amongst those in attendance were folks from the Facebook Platform team, Hi5 Platform team, Friendster Platform team, LinkedIn Platform team, and many top application developers. Here are my notes from this evening’s presentation.

David Glazer: The motivation behind Friend Connect is to 1) Help users wherever they are on the web interact with the people they care about, 2) Give webmasters a new tool to drive traffic to their site, 3) Help app developers get more reach for their apps.

Mussie Shore, Product Manager of Friend Connect, Google:

Webmaster experience: After you register your site, you have access to a library of social gadgets – some by Google, the rest by other developers. It’s pretty easy to use any OpenSocial app as a Friend Connect gadget. Just enter your XML URL and you’re done. After picking your gadget, you can customize it by choosing width, height, and color scheme. Then you just paste the JavaScript snippet into your site. Later, you can log in to Friend Connect to manage your members – you can see who’s joined from all OpenID providers right in one place.

User experience: When you come upon a site with Friend Connect gadgets, you can sign in with any Google, Yahoo, AIM, or OpenID account. After you sign in, you’re given the option to choose your nickname on this site, your privacy options (how much of your data and your friends list others can see), and which friend lists to link in.  You can link in friends from Facebook, Orkut, Gtalk, and Hi5 currently. In addition, you can also choose to publish your activities on this site to your linked social networks. For example, if you create content, this can be syndicated out to your activity stream on every social network that you’ve linked.  You can also invite friends from any linked social network – when you do so, native notifications are sent on the appropriate social network anonymously. And when you contribute content, it’s not anonymous – it’s tied to your identity.

Value propositions:
– Site Owner – social activity, viral growth, functionality without coding
– User – find fellow community members you didn’t know existed, engage with site, share content with friends
– Friend – discover new sites via your social feed, and make new friends

Nat Brown, CTO, iLike: Friend Connect is a powerful way to get our content to the sites we’re not going to be able to reach otherwise. It’s a great way for us to leverage all that we invested in OpenSocial. It only took a few minutes to lay the foundation to set up Friend Connect as another OpenSocial container

Paul Lindner, Architect, Hi5: As a container, we’re really concerned about privacy. We’re really excited to see privacy be a first class citizen.

Lucian Beebe, Director of Product Management, LinkedIn: We’ve been trying to build a platform to let you take your LinkedIn connections with you around the web for a number of months. During that time, we’ve learned that privacy is REALLY important. It’s very important that you have control over and feel comfortable with your privacy. Currently, we do deep integration via APIs with trusted partners, and we do light integration with widgets. Friend Connect lets us build deeper integrations spread more widely because we’re comfortable with the privacy model. For example, you can see who you know will be attending a conference, or if you read a news story about IBM in Germany, you can automatically see anyone you know who works there.

David Glazer: There are 3 core pieces of open technology that make Friend Connect work: 1) OpenID for sign in, 2) OAuth to get friends in a trusted way where the user is in control of their info, 3) OpenSocial so that it’s easy to make apps run in multiple contexts. These standards are real, they’re being adopted, and they’re interoperable.