Facebook, in its ceaseless quest to attract traffic to its site and sew up as much of the social Web as it possibly can, is soon to release a new tool that lets you embed elements of a Facebook page into any normal Web page.
The main thrust of this API, as discussed over at TechCrunch, represents something of a departure for Facebook: While Connect allows other sites (like this one) to enable fast logging in via Facebook's user interface, Open Graph actually lets you wire-in proper Facebook features.
Facebook is being coy about this new feature's full functionality, but several things are known. Developers will be able to pick and choose which Facebook features they use, and the resulting hybrid social media/Web page needn't look like Facebook itself--you still decide how you want your own page to behave. It's potentially very powerful, since it will let you add things like status feeds, comments, image uploads, and more, all leveraging off someone else's pre-tested and well understood code.
It's also going to be lucrative for Facebook. The data from all of those linked pages will go back to Facebook, where it's a saleable commodity, and it'll appear on the news feeds of everyone who's a friend to the external Web site. It's kind of like external Facebook Fan pages, TechCrunch notes, and it lets Facebook extend another tentacle into the social Web phenomenon, further strengthening its grip. From a broader perspective, it's yet another sign that soon everything on the Web will be infused with some sort of social media interactivity ... whether you like the idea or not. Plus, all those studies about time wasted on Facebook or Twitter are going to be irrelevant if most Web pages one visits have some of the same functionality.