The notion of social networks like Facebook and Google's Orkut was that they would connect real-world friends, not drive them apart. But a push, driven by technical idealists, to "open" such websites could be driving a wedge between two old friends. David Recordon, right, who recently rejoined blog-software maker Six Apart, has cast aspersions on efforts by Google to make it easier for programmers to hook their software — like Facebook's popular applications — into Orkut and other Google products. So far, it may sound like all business. Companies trash rivals' plans all the time. Here, however, is where things get a bit more personal.
Leading the charge at the Googleplex, you see, is Recordon's old friend Brad Fitzpatrick, left, who noisily exited Six Apart for Google shortly before Recordon came back to the company. Recordon, in a Twitter, suggests that Google is being less than open by requiring developers to sign nondisclosure agreements before learning about its social-network plans.
The lesson here? One could go on and on about the theory of the "social graph," and open standards, and application programming interfaces. One could talk about the coming war between Google and Facebook over software built on top of social networks. But frankly, that all bores me. I'm more taken by the spectacle of young men who are struggling to design elaborate electronic social networks — and yet could use a bit of help in learning how to maintain the real relationships they want computers to map out for them.