It seems inevitable at this point that the Web itself will eventually become a broad, interconnected social network like MySpace or Facebook, but without your data being stuck in a corporate garden.
Even the existing corporate gardens seem to recognize that an “open” social network is coming. First MySpace announced its “Data Availability” tools, which allow you use your MySpace profile info on other sites, and then Facebook announced more or less the same thing a day later.
Not to be outdone, Google is announcing a new set of tools known as “Friend Connect” (note that the second link isn’t live yet). Using Friend Connect, any website owner can, according to the press release, “add a snippet of code to his or her site and get social features up and running immediately without programming.”
Among the things you get for your snippet of code are basic social site functionality like “user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community.”