Darren Smith
Darren Smith

OpenSocial gets off to a hacking great start

Google’s OpenSocial was launched amid great expectation last week, with virtual groupies waiting for the doors to open.

While I wasn’t among those pitching their tents, so to speak, outside Google’s OpenSocial landing page, once I had come across the fact that it open for business, I thought I’d check it out.

OpenSocial holds much promise (this single programming model helping both developers and websites: developers only have to learn the APIs once in order to build applications that work with any OpenSocial-enabled website; websites also benefit by engaging a much larger pool of third-party developers than they could without a standard set of APIs) and boasts some heavyweight partners, including Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, MySpace, Newsgator, Ning, Oracle, Orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo and XING.

As Mashable says: “Yes, that’s MySpace there in the list; Facebook is, unsurprisingly, nowhere to be seen.”

So, all off to a good start, yes?

Well, no. Not quite.

Within minutes of registering as a user, and no sooner had I started playing in the OpenSocial sandbox, I discovered that someone (“theharmonyguy”) had already hacked the first OpenSocial application. “Already” being within 45 minutes (of what I’m not quite sure, but you get the point. These hackers get down and dirty pretty quickly).


Still, it’s early days … and “theharmonyguy” even had the “courtesy” of contacting the hacked profile owner (none other than Plaxo VP Marketing John McCrea) — “no harm intended — you were the only other person whom I knew had the app installed, and I was only testing the new platform to see if this was possible. Just sent you a message via Plaxo with details on how the hack works.”

Ooooooh. Nice guys, these hackers.

The moral of the story? If it’s on the web, it will be hacked. It’s not a question of “if”, but “when”. And when “when” is 45 minutes, then you have to ask whether we haven’t all gone a little mad in our consumer desire to have the latest, greatest widget, sacrificing quality for immediacy.

We’ve all become the slaves of vendor beta-testing. And we don’t even know it.