Some days I imagine the internet must want to take a deep breath and just rest for a while. With Google announcing OpenSocial, a huge stream of blog posts have been pouring down the "pipes".
Within the flood of blog posts, you might have seen NewsGator's name bobbing along with something called Didja Hear!? We were very pleased when Google asked us if we would like to be an early participant in this program, and we used the power of our Widget Framework and our experience from building NewsFriends for Facebook to create Didja Hear!? which pulls the best video and graphic content out of the seven million posts we process each day and makes it easy for users to share these videos and their comments. Here's how it looks in Orkut:
This application ends up being something like the Web 2.0 equivalent of a water-cooler chat with a great conversation starter. We recommend content in categories like movies, music, sports, celebrities, televesion, and gadgets and users send them on to friends or reply to videos and podcasts shared by their friends. So we leverage NewsGator's back end to select great content, and we leverage your social network to highlight the content that is most compelling for you.
So what does all this have to do with Enterprise 2.0? In some ways, Didja Hear!? has more in common with our Social Sites for SharePoint than it does with NewsFriends for Facebook. Just as Social Sites allows for an administrator to select content to make the experience more compelling, Didja Hear!? uses our editor's tools from the Widget Framework to get the best content by automatically filtering and sorting the content. We can also promote specific stories and eliminate unwanted ones.
But the real power happens when user behavior and relationships are added to the mix. The explicit actions of my friends to share content are the most powerful and accurate filters available. But we also take advantage of less explicit feedback. By tracking user actions including clicking links, forwarding articles, saving articles, etc, we can improve relevance. Even if my friends don't actually send me a story, the fact that they spent time interacting with it suggests that it's more valuable to me.
This is true in both consumer and enterprise applications. OpenSocial exposes information about a user, her friends, and her activities. This is exactly the same kind of information that is available in SharePoint or Connections. We leverage that information to provide the best content for a user, and we extend that information by adding in the reading, tagging, subscribing, saving, and other attention data to provide better connections of people and content.
This same story applies in our Syndication Services business where we leverage the same social content intelligence in our platform to provide the best possible widget experiences.
At the end of the day, all of this "2.0" stuff comes down to taking advantage of data that users provide for their own benefit to produce more benefit for them and others. Social and content consumption data are both extremely powerful - combined they produce a truly exceptional value in both business and individual user scenarios. And after the flood of posts has subsided and the "pipes" of the internet groan in relief, getting real value from OpenSocial will be the center of attention.
VP, Product Management
P.S. If you want to understand OpenSocial better, read Marc Andreesen's post. He gives a great overview of the technology as well as broader thought about its impact.