Google announced their new service, Friend Connect this week.
What is Friend Connect, you ask? It is essentially a way to pull in information from existing social networks, including Facebook, Orkut and Google Talk. The content displays in a small window on the web site, and looks/feels similar to embedded YouTube video content. This page provides much more context, including a video on how it works. Users can opt in or out of Friend Connect at any time, and have control over which web sites display their Friend Connect data (and how much they display).
I’m a little disappointed. I initially thought that Friend Connect enabled use of social networks’ data within existing sites, i.e., we could leverage the Facebook social graph on the Libraries web site, including within the CAT. While that’s somewhat true, it’s not as dynamic as I’d hoped. The content exists in a iframe–a peephole, if you will, into a social network. I think the next step will be to embed social data in more meaningful ways–mashing it up with existing applications. I can’t wait for this to happen.
In the meantime, I can see how this could enhance some web sites. There are many blogs that have ‘çommunities’ of readers. Friend Connect could put more of a face on those communities and enhance user interactions on those blogs. For more traditional, service-focused web sites, however, I just don’t think Friend Connect is the answer—yet.
For more readings and perspectives on Friend Connect–visit my del.icio.us list–I’ll keep adding links there.