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November 2, 2007

Platform Naming: Open to Misunderstanding

Google CodeThe domainers who favor generic names must be happy with Google’s new collection of APIs, . (API stands for Application Programming Interface, and you need one if you’re going to create add-ons for other people’s software.) OpenSocial an open-source platform for developing social networking tools, so the name is about as descriptive as it could be.

And it follows a naming convention common to many social networks: combining two words into one. Think Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn.

But the name just seems a little off. “Linked in” is a phrase that makes sense on its own, as is “my space,” and back in the days of paper, a “face book” was a collection of the names and photos of everyone who started college the same year you did. “Open” and “social” are both adjectives — though a “social” is also a gathering of women in tea-length gowns eating ice cream on the lawn. An open, social…what? If you leave out the initialism “API,” the name feels unfinished.

OpenSocialPlus, there’s already been some confusion about whether OpenSocial is a new social networking platform to replace (or supplement) Google’s , which is wildly popular in Brazil but barely in the consciousness of most Americans

The name surely contributes to that confusion. Calling it “SocialApps” would have made its purpose a lot clearer. (That domain appears to be parked; Google could surely afford to purchase it.)

All in all, “OpenSocial” just doesn’t sound like a party I’d want to attend. It’s much too dull a name for the possibilities it represents.

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Posted by Diane Prange at November 2, 2007 11:14 AM
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