Facebook Connect: The masses and the fishbowl

Summary:Facebook Connect, a service that allows someone to log on to Facebook from third party sites, is set to expand from its May launch.Reading the conversation this morning on Techmeme familiar storyline emerges.

Facebook Connect, a service that allows someone to log on to Facebook from third party sites, is set to expand from its May launch.

Reading the conversation this morning on Techmeme familiar storyline emerges. Facebook's Connect vs. the Open Social alliance between Google, MySpace and a bunch of others.  Om Malik has an overview of the technical debate (see Facebook developer wiki) and how it boils down to whether social networks should federate social identities or aggregate them.

It's all good stuff, but I can't help but go split screen on Facebook Connect. On one screen you have this techie discussion about standards, whether users should control their own identity and whether Facebook Connect hooking up with Digg and Hulu among others is a privacy worry. The social networking standard issue almost reminds me of how I used to cover Web services protocols like the fate of the free world was being decided. On the other side you have the masses: Most of the folks at my wife's high school reunion who joined Facebook in the last six months, the cops I know who suddenly joined the social networking site and the old boys from my former rugby team that have piled on.

Simply put, my world has joined Facebook all at once. I'm not sure who flipped the switch, but the sea change is telling. Facebook is now an everyman app.

Now through that prism let's view Facebook Connect. Is Facebook's move to go in a separate yet similar path than Open Social that significant to the rest of the world? Will Facebook Connect freak out users outside of the tech savvy? Or will Facebook Connect merely be a diversion that won't get much notice?

I'd guess most of those Facebook newbies aren't going to spend a lot of time fretting about or actively managing their social identities. Those items are things you do when you're in front of a screen all day. My hunch: Facebook Connect expands, there's a tech insider ruckus and then it just becomes part of the service. Perhaps there's a Facebook-Open Social (all resources) collision down the road, but for now I just don't see the masses--also known as the millions who don't follow tech sports--getting wound up about it.

Also see: Can Facebook do anything without raising a ruckus?

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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