Interesting new development in the world of social networking, with Google announcing the creation of a platform for Facebook Application-like tools that can run on more than one social networking site. The initial partners include Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and XING. TechCrunch goes into some detail about the implications; be sure to check out the comments thread.
When I first heard about it, I didn’t realize that MySpace was involved, as you can see in my quote on page 2 of the current Campaigns & Elections magazine Campaign Insider, where I’m a bit skeptical about the immediate political effects. Having MySpace involved could really make OpenSocial a more useful tool for U.S. political advocacy, since the site’s audience in the States is so much larger than those of all the other social networking sites besides Facebook combined.
Still, Facebook apps have yet to revolutionize online political advocacy, though Facebook groups certainly have their political uses (alas, not enough oomph to get Stephen Colbert on the ballot). As I said at the end of the C&E article, “Honestly, we don’t know how much these things matter…we haven’t gone through an election cycle [yet] in which MySpace and Facebook are going to play a major role.” My prediction: soc nets will have their place, but most campaigns will raise more money and organize more volunteers for real-world action using good, old-fashioned email.