Googlers working on OpenSocial, along with speakers from Plaxo and Hi5, got social with the web community on Wednesday night. In a panel discussion moderated by Silicon Valley Web Guild, they went over the OpenSocial platform, and tried to answer questions about the platform's maturity, commercial potential and openess. The words a "work in progress" was used countless times by Googlers and their Social network partners, as they tried to deflect criticism that OpenSocial was not ready for primetime. The Hi5 and Plaxo networks currently only allow OpenSocial apps to run inside a sandbox, and expect it will remain this way until 2008.
Chris Schalk from Google, expressed satisfaction that overall OpenSocial was very well received and suggested that Google was surprised by the overwhelming interest in OpenSocial from other social networks. Reflecting a pragmatic approach to building out the platform, he identified feedback from developers and partner companies as the primary force in shaping the design of the OpenSocial platform. Ultimately, Google plans to release OpenSocial as open source.
While OpenSocial doesn't currently address many issues of developing apps (Preferably called 'gadgets' by Google) such as policies on fair use of the social graph and how to style apps to fit in with the look and feel of each host platform; there is a definite sense that OpenSocial is an ambitious undertaking. Ultimately, it aims to "free" social networking users data and usher in a golden age of app portability. But it remains to be seen whether OpenSocial can hang together as each social network moves beyond the low-hanging fruit of common data definitions and creates extensions of OpenSocial to realize their unique values.