How Open Web Developers Are Trying to Make Social Media Better for You, the User

    June 10, 2010
    Chris Crum

Last week, a new open protocol called OExchange was released with the aim of simplifying sharing. Right out of the door, it had names like Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn signed on. WebProNews spoke with Google’s Open Web advocate, Chris Messina about how the protocol could benefit businesses and site owners.

"There are a couple different ways to look at this as a website owner," he told us. "If you already use a sharing service like AddToAny, ShareThis, or AddThis, you might not notice much difference. However, OExchange makes it easier for those service providers to support less well-known sharing services. As such, that means that site owners may see a boost in attention from a wider audience than before."

He said that "because this may give rise to a long-tail of sharing providers, it’s possible that content will be shared across a wider and more diverse audience than before."

OExchange is just one of handful of open protocols that are being harnessed to smooth out the social web, and make for a more seamless user experience from site to site. Others include OpenID, OAuth, Webfinger,, PubsubHubbub, and Salmon.

Google is playing a large role in the advocacy of of these open protocols. Google Buzz, for example, places a great deal of emphasis on the kind of openness they provide, and the kind of openness that is frankly lacking from the much more popular (at least in terms of user count) "Open" graph of Facebook – by far, the largest social network.

At Google I/O last month, WebProNews spoke with Joseph Smarr of Google’s technical staff about various open protocols and how they can help websites. He does a pretty good job of putting it into terms the non-techie can probably understand:

"If you’re a webmaster and you’ve got a new site and you want people to check it out, you want to limit that friction as much as possible, right? You want to make it super easy for people to come and find out about who you are," says Smarr.

"It’s going to be better for you, and it’s going to be better for you users, who are going to have a much more convenient time," he says.

Smarr also makes an interesting point about the web in general. "The web started with the right open standards. You know, HTML and HTTP, and then anybody could just stand up a new webserver, and anybody could link to it, and that’s what allowed that incredible innovation to happen. So we basically want to get that same set of building blocks right on the social web…"

As Messina told us upon the launch of OExchange, "the benefits of any open protocol or technology really only offers dividends when it becomes widely adopted by many providers."

We also have an interview from Google I/O with Messina we will be posting on our Video Blog before long.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.