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Yet one company alone should not have the power to manage identity for everyone. A workable and safe social backbone must support competition and choice, while still retaining the benefits of the network. Email interoperability was created not by the domination of one system, but by standards for communication.
To achieve a web-wide effect, Google+ needs more openness and interoperability, which it does not yet have. The features offered by the upcoming Google+ API will give us a strong indication of Google's attitude towards control and interoperability.

There is some substantial evidence that Google would support an open and interoperable social backbone:

Google's prominence as a supporter of the open web, which is crucial to its business.

The early inclination to interoperation of Google+: public content items have a URI, fallback to email is supported for contacts who are not Google+ members.

Google is loudly trumpeting their Data Liberation Front, committed to giving users full access to their own data.

Google has been involved in the creation of, or has supported, early stage technologies that address portions of the social backbone, including OAuth, OpenID, OpenSocial, PubSubHubbub.

Google displays an openness to federation with interoperating systems, evinced most keenly by Joseph Smarr, the engineer behind the Google+ Circles model. The ill-fated Google Wave incorporated federation.

The most open system possible would best benefit Google's mission in organizing the world's information, and their business in targeting relevant advertising.


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cf. Google I/O 2010

Bridging the islands: Building fluid social experiences across websites

Social Web - John Panzer, Joseph Smarr
Session type: 201

youtube video (~1h) - permalink:

"As more sites add social functionality, profiles, friends, and conversations are becoming increasingly fragmented and redundant. But an emerging collection of open technologies aim to help bridge these social islands, allowing users to seamlessly move between sites, bring their friends along, and have unified conversations that span multiple web sites. Come learn how OpenID, OAuth, Portable Contacts,, and Salmon can help you connect your site to the rest of the Social Web, increasing your traffic, engagement, and relevance to your users."

Google+ is the social backbone | "openness to federation with interoperating systems" | 2011-07-19 | oAnth-miscellaneous |
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