It’s like a war, except with programmers and social networks instead of soldiers and anti-aircraft artillery. First Google opened up its distributed social net, Google Friend Connect — which I have installed in my sidebar and also embedded below — and then Facebook threw open the doors on its version, imaginatively called (what else) Facebook Connect. The aim of both ventures is the same: to allow you to use your login credentials from the network on various sites around the Web, bringing your social profile with you wherever you go. In the process, both companies no doubt hope to entice more people to build a social network based on their tools and services (for some reason I’m reminded of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church at this point, but that might just be me).
Eric Eldon has a good overview of the differences at VentureBeat, and there is also plenty of coverage at places like Read/Write Web, as well as All Facebook and the always excellent Gina Trapani at Lifehacker. Looking at both of them got me wondering about whether sites like the New York Times will integrate either Friend Connect or Facebook Connect and make them work with the paper’s TimesPeople network, or whether it will work with other distributed social tools like Glue from adaptiveblue.com, which I’ve been testing recently. It’s nice to see ways of connecting to networks without having to actually go to the respective websites all the time.
(Note: My Google Friend Connect box looks somewhat pathetic at the moment — so click on the “join” button and add yourself to my network)