"The phrase Open Social implies portability of personal and social data. That would be exciting but there are entirely different protocols underway to deal with those ideas. As some people have told me tonight, it may have been more accurate to call this "OpenWidget" - though the press wouldn't have been as good. We've been waiting for data and identity portability - is this all we get?"
[Source: Read/Write Web's Commentary & Analysis of Google's OpenSocial API]

..Perhaps the world will read the terms of use of the API, and realize this is not an open API; this is a free API, owned and controlled by one company only: Google. Hopefully, the world will remember another time when Google offered a free API and then pulled it. Maybe the world will also take a deeper look and realize that the functionality is dependent on Google hosted technology, which has its own terms of service (including adding ads at the discretion of Google), and that building an OpenSocial application ties Google into your application, and Google into every social networking site that buys into the Dream. Hopefully the world will remember. Unlikely, though, as such memories are typically filtered in the Great Noise....

[Source: Poignant commentary excerpt from Shelly Power's Blog (as always)]

The "Semantic Data Web" vision has always been about "Data & Identity" portability across the Web. Its been that and more from day one.

In a nutshell, we continue to exhibit varying degrees of Cognitive Dissonance re the following realities:

  1. The Network is the Computer (Internet/Intranet/Extranet depending on your TCP/IP usage scenarios)
  2. The Web is the OS (ditto) and it provides a communications subsystem (Information BUS) comprised of
    - HTTP Protocol
    - URIs (pointer system for identifying, accessing, and manipulating data)
  3. HTTP based Interprocess (i.e Web Apps are processes when you discard the HTML UI and interact with the application logic containers called "Web Services" behind the pages) ultimately hit data
  4. Web Data is best Modeled as a Graph (RDF, Containers/Items/Item Types, Property & Value Pairs associated with something, and other labels)
  5. Network are Graphs and vice versa
  6. Social Networks are graphs where nodes are connected via social connectors ( [x]--knows-->[y] )
  7. The Web is a Graph that exposes a People and Data Network (to the degree we allude to humans not being data containers i.e. just nodes in a network, otherwise we are talking about a Data Network)
  8. Data access and manipulation depends inherently on canonical Data Access mechanisms such as Data Source Identifiers / Names (time-tested practice in various DBMS realms)
  9. Data is forever, it is the basis of Information, and it is increasing exponentially due to proliferation of Web Services induced user activities (User Generated Content)
  10. Survival, Vitality, Longevity, Efficiency, Productivity etc.. are all depend on our ability to process data effectively in a shrinking time continuum where Data and/or Information overload is the alternative.

The Data Web is about Presence over Eyeballs due to the following realities:

  1. Eyeballs are input devices for a DNA based processing system (Humans). The aforementioned processing system can reason very well, but simply cannot effectively process masses of data or information
  2. Widgets offer little value long term re. the imminent data and information overload dilemma, ditto Web pages (however pretty), and any other Eyeballs-only centric Web Apps
  3. Computers (machines) are equipped with inorganic (non DNA) based processing power, they are equipped to process huge volumes of data and/or information, but they cannot reason
  4. To be effective in the emerging frontier comprised of a Network Computer and a Web OS, we need an effective mechanism that makes best use of the capabilities possessed by humans and machines, by shifting the focus to creation and interaction with points of "Data Web Presence" that openly expose "Structured Linked Data".

This is why we need to inject a mesh of Linked Data into the existing Web. This is what the often misunderstood vision of the "Semantic Data Web" or "Web of Data" or "Web or Structured Data" is all about.

As stated earlier (point 10 above), "Data is forever" and there is only more of it to come! Sociality and associated Social Networking oriented solutions are at best a spec in the Web's ocean of data once you comprehend this reality.

Note: I am writing this post as an early implementor of GData and an implementor of RDF Linked Data technology and a "Web Purist".

OpenSocial implementation and support across our relevant product families: Virtuoso (i.e the Sponger Middleware for RDF component), OpenLink Data Spaces (Data Space Controller / Services), and the OpenLink Ajaxt Toolkit (i.e OAT Widgets and Libraries), is a triviality now that the OpenSocial APIs are public.

The concern I have, and the problem that remains mangled in the vast realms of Web Architecture incomprehension, is the fact that GData and GData based APIs cannot deliver Structured Linked Data in line with the essence of the Web without introducing "lock-in" that ultimately compromises the "Open Purity" of the Web. Facebook and Google's OpenSocial response to the Facebook juggernaut (i.e. open variant of the Facebook Activity Dashboard and Social Network functionality realms, primarily), are at best icebergs in the ocean we know as the "World Wide Web". The nice and predictable thing about icebergs is that they ultimately melt into the larger ocean :-)

On a related note, I had the pleasure of attending the W3C's RDF and DBMS Integration Workshop, last week. The event was well attended by organizations with knowledge, experience, and a vested interested in addressing the issues associated with exposing none RDF data (e.g. SQL) as RDF, and the imminence of data and/or information overload covered in different ways via the following presentations:
- RDF Views of SQL Data - Orri Erling on behalf of OpenLink Software
- Computer Science 2.0 (covering User Generated Content Explosion) - Michael Brodie