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Google, Microsoft Back OExchange Social Sharing

The emerging protocol aims to provide an open mechanism for sharing content across Web sites.

Furthering efforts to foster open alternatives to Facebook's social platform, Google, LinkedIn, and Microsoft on Thursday declared their support for OExchange, a content sharing protocol spearheaded by Clearspring Technologies.

OExchange provides a way for online services like Google Buzz to receive content shared from other sources, for third-party sharing tools to discover and share content, and for user preferences to be communicated across services.

"OExchange is a promising effort that seeks to simplify and make sharing easier for publishers and service providers alike," explains Google's Chris Messina in a blog post.

The problem that OExchange and related protocols like XAuth are trying to solve is what Messina has described as the NASCAR problem, a reference to the limited number of sponsor logos that can fit on a race car and still have value as advertisements.

OExchange tries to solve this problem by allowing a sharing tool like Clearspring's AddThis, which can be found on InformationWeek pages, to share content with any other site that supports the protocol.

This would be an improvement over the current implementation of AddThis which displays a predetermined set of 13 other Web sites in a small menu or a daunting list of several dozen sharing services in an expanded menu, an experience not unlike NASCAR logo overload.

Clearspring is encouraging the over 300 services working with AddThis and the over 800 seeking AddThis integration to adopt OExchange.

"We are excited to be playing a role in building a more open and interoperable Web," said Clearspring Technologies co-founder and CEO Hooman Radfar in a statement. "OExchange is a key component in providing a complete open solution for content sharing online."

Other services supporting the effort include: Digg, Echo, Instapaper, Posterous, PrintFriendly, Springpad, StumbleUpon, Webs, and yfrog (Imageshack).

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