Google's OpenSocial announcement today suggests changes that may improve the future of social networking (click here for Dan Farber's coverage). Hidden from view during the press conference, an improvised parallel event arose spontaneously, raising deeper implications than the Google announcement itself. This parallel event offers a provocative glimpse into the future of collective intelligence, information sharing, and group-oriented analysis.
Here's what happened: During the press conference, blogger Robert Scoble sent Twitters of his impressions as the story unfolded. His comments offered context and significance:
MySpace just announced HUGE news with Google. Scobleizer (Scobleizer) via Snitter at 15:29
I'm sitting in the Google press conference with Eric Schmidt and tons of other execs from MySpace, and Flixter. HUGE HUGE HUGE. Scobleizer (Scobleizer) via Snitter at 15:30
Here's why this is so huge: developers write apps one time and it runs everywhere that Google's platform runs. MySpace. Ning. NewsGator.Goog Scobleizer (Scobleizer) via Snitter at 15:38
Joe Krauss says that I was right in my video yesterday. My blog can host these apps. F***in A. This is KILLER. Scobleizer (Scobleizer) via Snitter at 15:53
Robert then did something startling: he offered to relay questions from his 7,000-member Twitter network to Google executives:
What do you want to know? I'll ask. Scobleizer (Scobleizer) via Snitter at 15:50
He repeated the offer a few more times:
Anymore questions? This really is incredible to have Google execs, the press, and developers (both internal and external) here to ask. Scobleizer (Scobleizer) via Snitter at 16:34
Upon Robert's invitation, the press conference instantly became interactive. Suddenly, questions and answers flowed between the on-site executives and the Twitter audience, with Robert serving as intermediary.
While all this took place, a rapid-fire stream of analysis, facilitated by Robert's information, arose among people in various locations and companies around the world.
For me, feverish dialog started among my network of Enterprise Irregular and ZDNet colleagues, including Dan Farber (ZDNet), Dennis Howlett (ZDNet), Susan Scrupski (BSG Alliance), Jeff Nolan (NewsGator), Jake Kuramoto (Oracle), and Craig Cmehil (SAP). Within minutes, Dennis even posted a video commentary, picking apart why the Google announcement is significant. Bear in mind, all this was performed by individuals using free software, with no infrastructure beyond an ordinary Internet connection.
This provocative set of events arose completely spontaneously, rooted in opportunity and circumstance, and offers a glimpse of how information will be shared and consumed in the future.