I was at the flex for the Campfire One event last night to mingle with the Blogarazzi, drink hot chocolate while being regaled with Guacamole recipes and tales of how Google’s new friend connect was going to allow anyone to add social features to their website with only rudimentary html experience. Google has jumped from gadgets to widget by leveraging all the work done to support their Open Social and Open Auth to make it easy for web-masters and web-apprentices to go social.
It’s not the quality of the widget that bothers me or even trade offs that webmasters make when they join a platform. I don’t mind that Google is leveraging open source to meet Facebook’s platform play. Facebook has lots of dough and lots of hubris.
I am bothered by the sudden lack of oxygen in the room as Google inhales whatever momentum social networking has left and makes sure that the next phase of social networking companies will suddenly need to be Google Centric. Microsoft used vaporware and some very predatory contracts to drive competitors out of business. Open Social, Google App Engine and now Friend Connect demonstrates that Google has perfected the art of co-opting everyone else’s efforts by offering them an infrastructure umbrella.
Google has absorbed the best ideas of the emerging social web for pennies on the dollar while making sure they have the inside track on monetization. They have done it with a team of hard working, dedicated engineers who want to make the web a better place. Unless you are a cynical search marketer or your start-up is suddenly having trouble breathing, you won’t even notice.