Mr. Open Web Goes to Google

Chris Messina, self-titled “open web advocate,” will take that official title at Google (s GOOG) starting Monday, he announced today on his blog. He joins Joseph Smarr, the former CTO of Plaxo, who will also start working for Google later this month. Smarr and Messina are both board members of the OpenID Foundation. The two have been frequent collaborators on open web projects, and co-host the podcast (where Messina also announced the news — embedded below).

Much of Messina’s work will remain outside of Google, though clearly the hope is that he’ll affect the company’s social web products. Messina, who had previously formed Citizen Agency, the consulting firm, and worked with Mozilla, Vidoop and Flock, says he hopes to help create an “OpenID Connect” to compete with Facebook and Twitter Connect. He added via email that he’d like to build out as a sort of app store for open web technology that would be a “clearinghouse and promotion factory” for such projects.

Google, which lags far behind the competition on social products, recently announced a public commitment to “openness” that met mixed reviews, seeing as it still holds its search and advertising businesses close to the vest. However, the hiring of Messina and Smarr gives the company more credibility in these areas. Meanwhile, Messina and Smarr get a much bigger stage to try to embed their ideas into products. Messina writes,

I want more success in turning my ideas into tangible outcomes, and in doing so, prove the power that I see in open, interoperable standards that can make the web a richer and more intricately spun space.