Live Coverage Of Facebook's f8 Developer Event

By Nick O'Neill Comment

-f8 Logo-Today Facebook will be announcing a number of new products and services at the company’s f8 developer event. While there are numerous rumors and speculation about what will be announced, we’ll start to find out what’s being announced in the next few minutes as Mark Zuckerberg and Bret Taylor take the stage. If you want to see streaming video of the event you can do so here. We will be posting coverage on our site as well.

[10:04 Pacific] We’re waiting for the event to get started.

[10:05] David Kirkpatrick reports that Microsoft is making a big partnership announcement with Facebook. More to come.

[10:06] We’re told that Facebook will not be making a location announcement just as we wrote last night.

[10:09] The audience is being told the event is about to get started.

[10:11] Mark Zuckerberg is on the stage.

[10:12] Mark is explaining how last year Facebook launched Connect at last year’s event and today’s announcement will be the “most transformative thing we’ve done for the web”. The first will be the Open Graph. The Open Graph puts people at the center of the web and that people and things can be “semantically” related. The second theme will be using the open graph to make social and personal experiences everywhere you go. We’ve learned that the less friction there is, the more effective things are.

[10:13] Mark is mentioning that there are 400 million people on Facebook (no new statistics there). In the last year mobile usage has grown by 5X. There will be a few policy changes today. The first is a one step permissions dialog. Overall this should make building on the platform much easier.

[10:16] Previously we limited the caching data policy. Now developers can cache user data and the 24 hour caching policy has been eliminated. This will be interesting to see what policy advocates say about this.

[10:17] We also want to provide an update about Facebook Credits. Right now we have almost 100 applications in the program and we’re still in closed beta for the program. (I guess they aren’t opening this up today) They are focused on scaling this to the entire ecosystem.

[10:18] At our first f8 I discussed the concept of “the social graph”. Facebook is only mapping out a part of this graph (mostly people and relationships). Developers are mapping other parts of this graph. Yelp is mapping the part of the graph related to small businesses, and Pandora is mapping the part related to music. By pulling this data together we can make a web which is more “semantically aware”.

[10:19] Mark is now demonstrating the concept of the Open Graph. What we’re about to show you in a minute is how all of this is going to become a lot easier. If I write a review on Yelp, that data is not connected to my other services. One hack that developers have done to move around this is to post the data to the stream. Right now the stream is ephemeral and data eventually floats away over time. Other developers won’t be able to understand the semantic relationship between you and places and things.

[10:22] If you write a review saying something is positive, we can post information about stuff that you’ve liked anywhere on the web. We’ll also be able to show you things that your friends like. (Beginning to sound more like a semantic search engine). When we connect all these things together, the web is going to get a whole lot better.

[10:23] Today we’re going to announce a few key technologies. The first is a new version of our platform called the “Graph API”. This will be implemented on an open standard that we’ll later talk about. The other thing is a series of “social plugins” that you’ll be able to drop into your site without having to write a simple line of code. Mark is now demonstrating an example on CNN, where he sees friends that have liked a story. The user doesn’t need to log in to CNN ever as Facebook serves up content. If I “Like” the content, anybody implementing the Open Graph will be able to access this data.

[10:25] There will also be a stream which I can view that shows what content my friends have been liking. Mark is now inviting Bret Taylor on stage to demonstrate what they’ve done. Bret is now talking …

[10:26] Bret is talking about how they started Friendfeed. At Friendfeed, users needed to friend 5 people in order for them to become active. If the user never found at least 5 friends there was a good chance they wouldn’t return. We did what most social sites do: we added an address book import to make it easier to find friends.

[10:27] Late last year Facebook launched Connect and after implementing it in FriendFeed, we had Connect users who became 4 times as likely to log in.

[10:28] Today we are going to make three product announcements. The first is social plugins which provide “instant personalization”. You should be able to have a user that has never visited your site instantly have a social experience. The “Like” button is the most basic version of these social plugins. At this point, all you need to do is embed an iFrame and your site will be instantly enabled. You don’t even need to register your site within Facebook.

[10:30] Once you place these like buttons on your site, they power new services. One of them is an “activity stream plugin” which shows a user all of the activity their friends have had within their site. If you go to CNN today you’ll see this activity stream plugin. The other widget is a “Recommendations” plugin that will show a user content that is most relevant to a user visiting your site and all you need is a single line of code.

[10:32] A new “Login” plugin will show a login button but it will also show all of a visitor’s friends who are also registered for the site. The final plugin is the “social bar” which shows chat, likes, and friends who are on the site. It’s similar to the bar that’s already at the bottom of Facebook’s site. So where do likes go when they make their way back to Facebook.com? Up until now there has been reverse chronological data that show up in a user’s feed but unfortunately the only people that see that are people who visit a person’s profile in a few hours.

[10:34] The second product announcement we have today is the Open Graph protocol. Now there are various types of meta data (title, type, genre, and city) for music or other interests that a user has. We’ll now use this semantic knowledge to represent a user on Facebook.com. On IMDB, there is now a “Like” button on every page. When I “Like” a movie, it will now show up in the “movies” section of my profile. When a user visits my profile and mouses over that movie, they will see a link to that content on Facebook.com. This data will also show up in search results.

[10:36] Today we’re launching the Open Graph with 30 partners, spanning all categories. For example, I can connect to an athlete on ESPN.com. It’s pretty clear that Facebook is in a race to develop the most effective semantic search engine at this point in the presentation.

[10:37] For the first time, the interests in my profile link to sites off of Facebook.com. My identity isn’t defined by something on Facebook but instead by things around the web. We think the connections between people and the things they care about will help create a more connected web. Our third announcement for today is the Graph API, which is an attempt for us to realize our core API within this new graph structure. The primary design goal (via http://graph.facebook.com) is to make it accessible via a terminal and CURL. In the graph API, every user as an object representation and an ID.

[10:39] The connections between objects in the graph are represented equally elegantly. The URL will be http://graph.facebook.com/userID/likes, pages, events, groups, etc. It’s a much more elegant implementation of the API. The new graph API in not just a veneer. We are now launching many new features including a new version of Search. We’re also giving developers the ability to search over all public updates on Facebook. As a developer you’ll be able to build a module that tracks what people are saying about a specific brand.

[10:41] This stream will also be real-time. Now when I update my profile, that information will be updated directly in the API. We’re also using new authentication models, and today we’re announcing the implementation of OAuth 2.0. The first reason this is a big deal is that it’s an industry standard. The service is extremely simple. The implementation process takes 5 minutes. This will also work with all of new APIs as well as our existing APIs.

[10:43] To recap, today’s announcements are: the open graph, social plugins, and the graph API. Now Mark Zuckerberg is welcomed back to the stage.

[10:44] Mark is listing some of the partners to get ready: Flikster, Kiva, Slate, CNN, omgpop, Scribd, IMDb, Pandora, MyDeco, and many more. Today we believe we’ll serve 1 billion like buttons on the web. The web is at an important turning point. Most things aren’t social and don’t use your real identity. Recently this is really starting to change. Now with the Open Graph and social plugins, more sites will impelement more social feature without requiring users to login.

[10:45] Today I want to show you one more thing which is a little glimpse of the future. Today I want to show you one from Microsoft called Docs.com which is Microsoft’s version of their Office suite that lets you collaborate with your friends online. You will be able to view a document just from within a link on Facebook. Immediately you’ll be able to see the document, edit it , and share with your friends. It’s Microsoft online with basic Facebook integration. The service will be available later today at Docs.com.

[10:48] When you show up to Pandora now, you’ll be able to see which of your friends see similar music that your friends are interested in. It instantly makes it more social but you don’t need log in.

[10:49] That’s all we wanted to announce today! Thanks for coming. As a closing thought I’d like to tell a story. He’s talking about his girlfriend when the professor in medical school asks the attendees how many people had had a transformative experience that made them realizing that they need to help people. He did the same test in law school and nobody put their hands up. He then asked the law students if they had a memory of when they thought fairness was important and everybody’s hands went up. Essentially we all have a lot of early memories that the world can be a lot better and “I’m going to make it that way”.

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