A timely OpenSocial reality check
The frenzy about open platforms misses an essential truth: no one will go through an open door if there isn’t something worthwhile on the other side. The best example of the sort of platform that works is Google Maps. It is a powerful, flexible way to display geographic information. When combined with interesting data, the results can be compelling. (Here is the Los Angeles Times’s wildfire map. Here is a blog with many more examples.)
Social networks do have interesting data that could be used in a mashup application: Profiles of members, and links that define the relationships between members. But this data is only useful if the network has deep penetration of the people users care about. I can see why Marc Andreessen’s Ning, which helps create custom social networks for little league teams and such, might find OpenSocial useful.