It's like the Justice League of social media: Google, Yahoo, and News Corp.'s MySpace.com announced on Tuesday that they have formed the OpenSocial Foundation, a non-profit group to support the OpenSocial initiative that Google kick-started last year as a way to promote a universal standard for developer applications on social-networking sites.
The specific purpose of the new non-profit, according to a release, is "to ensure the neutrality and longevity of OpenSocial as an open, community-governed specification for building social applications across the web." It's a particularly crucial move for Google, which has been eager to emphasize that OpenSocial is a community standard, not a Mountain View project.
"OpenSocial has been a community-driven specification from the beginning," Joe Kraus, Google's director of product management, said in a joint statement from the three companies. "The formation of this foundation will ensure that it remains so in perpetuity. Developers and websites should feel secure that OpenSocial will be forever free and open."
Dan Holevoet explains the Gadget xml files that developers can use to create applications using OpenSocial data in this video.
And Facebook won't be joining the OpenSocial Foundation, either. "As the largest contributor to the memecached system, Facebook has long been a leader and supporter of open source initiatives but will not join the foundation," a statement from the company read. "The company will continue to evaluate partnership opportunities that will benefit the 300,000 Facebook Platform developers while improving the Facebook user experience."
As Mashable notes OpenSocial includes a who's who of all the major social networks except for Facebook.
Bigger than the forming of the Foundation is the news that Yahoo has joined in on OpenSocial. For a reminder of who else is in, here's a shortened list: Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and XING. So, basically, out of all the social networks and web giants on the web, Facebook is the only one that's out of the loop - for now.
There are going to be some very interesting applications developed using OpenSocial. Facebook may come to regret not being involved. Of course, they could always join down the road as they observe how OpenSocial evolves as developers launch OpenSocial-based features and services.