Zude's Social Mix: The Greater Communicator - InformationWeek

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5/1/2008
06:43 PM
Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson
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Zude's Social Mix: The Greater Communicator

Zude is a clever company. It has managed to create a platform where you can build a more personalized social network environment whether you're a nontechnical user or a developer (see our video below). But now it is taking the platform further, perhaps even into the dangerous (but fun) waters of data portability.

Zude is a clever company. It has managed to create a platform where you can build a more personalized social network environment whether you're a nontechnical user or a developer (see our video below). But now it is taking the platform further, perhaps even into the dangerous (but fun) waters of data portability.

As we wait while many of the social network sites and other hosts delicately embrace open standards while "working on" support for such things as Open Social (read differently: use the word "open" to mean exposing their own APIs and urging everyone to write to them with the "it's easy, just write some JavaScript" mantra), Zude has figured out a way to not only bypass all of that, but also support those methods at the same time.

There's a great description of Zude from my colleague, David Berlind, here. The idea is that you can create a blank, fully programmable Web page with the intelligence to recognize, identify, and render content you drop in; Zude CTO Steve Repetti calls it a fully embedded windowing environment where your objects have knowledge about their environment. Developers can count on support for virtually any widget or gadget, and they can cut and paste code.

There are two important developments in this new version (which is, by the way, a completely iterative revision strategy if you listen to Repetti talk about new things that manage to appear almost daily). The first involves data normalization. The other is a new feature called Social Mix. The premise is that people invest lots of time and data into social network hosts, and while they have open APIs, the data structure is still proprietary. Zude can take data and render it in any format, including XML, JSON, vCard, hCard, and so on, and essentially normalize the data.

Social Mix is a new toolset just for social networks. It supports Bebo, Hi-5, Facebook, and MySpace (with FriendFeed, Twitter, and others to come), taking all of the elements (profiles, friend lists, blogs, status info, comments, etc.) the host makes available, whether via an API call or an open social element. The user has to put in authentication credentials first, but with a push of a button you can log in and get your friend information and relationship information and drag and drop that onto Zude. So you can put your MySpace information right next to your Facebook information, or anything similar, and you can mash things up however you want.

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