TechCrunchIT has a good Q&A on the social web with Google’s Kevin Marks. Right away, his comments on the first question are very significant:
Q: We keep hearing that “Google wants to make the web more social.” What does that mean?
Everything on the web is more interesting when it takes place with friends. Today’s social networking sites are the online contexts where you and your friends go to be social, and the time we spend on them shows the attraction.
But the model of going to a single website to interact with other people is changing. In the future, we expect everything on the web will become more social, augmenting the many things you already do on the web. Whether you’re shopping, deciding what to read, or researching a topic, knowing what your friends, or family, or the people you respect think about that product, book, or source of information is a vital part of the web.
I call this the “social cloud,” meaning that “social” will be integrated with the web so that you don’t think about it anymore. Charlene Li calls this same idea “social networks become like air.” The web itself is like this — following links seems like second nature to us because we know a URL can take us anywhere. Social isn’t there yet, but that’s the highest level goal of the OpenSocial project — to make interacting with people a natural part of how we use the web.