From Google Watch

Google, Yahoo and MySpace have formally launched the OpenSocial Foundation to garner support for the OpenSocial data portability effort.

The group’s goal is make sure that OpenSocial will remain open and free for developers or anyone else contributing to the specification.

The Foundation has selected five of the seven board members to preside over the group’s governance: Google’s David Glazer, credited with leading the OpenSocial API efforts; hi5’s Anil Dharni; Flixster’s Joe Greenstein; MySpace’s Allen Hurff; and Yahoo’s Sam Pullara.

In an unusual move, and one that underscores the open nature of the group, the board will also include two community representatives, which will be selected by participants of the OpenSocial Foundation in the coming weeks.

Want to vote for two OpenSocial community members? You need to sign up to join OpenSocial here and submit nominations for those seats here.

For those of you who missed the first go-around in October 2007, Google programmers launched OpenSocial in the wake of the success of the Facebook Platform.

Facebook Platform didn’t allow apps created on it to work on other sites when it launched in May 2007. Sensing an opportunity, Google programmers created the OpenSocial API to enable programmers to write applications for multiple social networks.

The set of three APIs offers access to users’ profiles and their friends, as well as the ability to let those friends know what activities have taken place. The APIs allow developers to tailor their applications to run on any Web site enabled by OpenSocial.

Facebook later loosened up the reins on its Platform and announced its own data portability service, Facebook Connect, allowing the company’s users to port their identity and friends lists securely to other Web sites.

Yet Facebook was noticeably absent when Google, Yahoo and MySpace got together to announce OpenSocial Foundation in March. Moreover, Facebook does not allow OpenSocial API to work on its platform and banned Google’s OpenSocial-based Friend Connect.

Rumors at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in July hinted Google and Facebook were working on some sort of détente regarding OpenSocial, but this has yet to come to fruition.

That brings us full circle to the official Foundation launch, which comes two weeks after an open-source programmer who does not work for Google created Partuza. Partuza is a social Web site that will let other programmers run OpenSocial applications in a safe environment.

OpenSocial desperately needs this sort of sandbox to gain traction because, unlike Facebook Platform, people aren’t religiously using thousands of OpenSocial apps; the cause has little momentum.

Working with Facebook would help but it won’t be enough to help OpenSocial catch fire.