The other day I was listening to music via Pandora, my favorite Internet radio station. I glanced up at the screen to see which artist I was listening to. It was Bon Iver. I was really surprised to notice that there was an onscreen graphic showing me that my friend, Dave, also likes Bon Iver. How does Pandora know that I know Dave?
How did they connect me to…. “Ah, ha — that’s a Facebook Photo!” Facebook was sharing information with Pandora to show me which of my friends liked the artists I listened to on Pandora. WOW!
This new cyber data connectivity is a recent evolution by Facebook.
It's called the Open Graph.
At Facebook’s recent F8 developer conference, Mark Zuckerberg called it "the most transformative thing we've ever done for the Web."
Open Graph connects your and your friends’ Facebook information with other social sites. "Yelp is mapping out the part of the graph that relates to small businesses. Pandora is mapping out the part of the graph that relates to music," Zuckerberg said. "If we can take these separate maps of the graph and pull them all together, then we can create a Web that's smarter, more social, more personalized, and more semantically aware."
"These connections aren't just happening on Facebook, they're happening all over the Web, and today with the Open Graph we're bringing all these things together," Zuckerberg said.
"We're going to make it possible to make those connections," Zuckerberg said. For example, a "news feed" item about a Yelp review of a restaurant could bring up more information about the restaurant and which of a user's Facebook friends have been there.
Sure enough, I did a search on Yelp looking for a restaurant for our anniversary dinner and instead I got a message from my Facebook friend Donna, asking me if we could share information. I found my restaurant, checked out 4 reviews, and could connect with Donna at the same time — without ever switching apps or having to make any additional effort in my search.
"We're going to connect all of those different graphs together to form the Open Graph, and when we connect all of those graphs together, the Web is going to get a whole lot better," Zuckerberg said.
The Open Graph protocol itself allows Web browsing of your favorite sites and then being able to share with friends instantly. You no longer need to gather information and travel back to paste into Facebook to share with your friends.
Facebook is launching the Open Graph protocol with 30 partners.
This is a really significant step for Facebook. For years we've been saying that FB is an open platform, but now for the first time, the likes and interests of my Facebook profile link to places that are not Facebook.com. My identity is not just defined by things on Facebook; it's defined by things all over the Web.
Facebook has taken another step towards defining a more natural way to live and share online.