Fighting for the Future of the Social Web: Selling Out and Opening Up

Open Data
Location: F150
Average rating: ****.
(4.60, 5 ratings)

For those trying to keep up with OpenID, OAuth, Portable Contacts, and other efforts to steer the Social Web towards user-controlled data portability and true interoperability, the last few years can seem like a dizzying mix of successes and setbacks. Are these open approaches gaining widespread adoption, or are they being eclipsed by closed proprietary alternatives? Have they gotten closer to solving the fundamental problems of online identity and user-friendly rich mashups that protect private data, or are they still too primitive and geeky to make a meaningful impact? And have many of the fiercest proponents of Open “sold out” by taking jobs at Google, Facebook, and other big players, or are they continuing to push the frontiers of open from within, armed with a new set of tools? As Joseph Smarr (longtime open advocate, and recent “sell out” to Google) will explain, the answer to all of the above questions is “yes and yes”, and the stories behind them paint a fascinating picture of how the fight for openness has evolved along with the ecosystem is trying to improve, and why its best days still lie ahead.

Photo of Joseph Smarr

Joseph Smarr


Joseph Smarr is a software engineer at Google, focused on socially enabling the web using open standards. Previously, he was Plaxo’s Chief Technology Officer, where he led their initiative to open up the social web, starting with co-authoring the Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web in 2007. He has served of the Board of Directors of the OpenID Foundation and OpenSocial Foundation. A frequent speaker and community participant in the social networking and web development communities, Joseph has built web applications for many years. Joseph has a BS and MS from Stanford University in Artificial Intelligence. His website is, or just Google him!

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Mark Deason
07/28/2011 6:39am PDT

would’ve been 5 stars if it didn’t go long, but I’m actually glad it did

Picture of Fred Willerup
Fred Willerup
07/27/2011 8:17am PDT

Very interesting talk, and really engaged presenter. Thanks!