Friday, November 21, 2008

Social Web

Social networking websites are becoming more and more popular, and it's number is growing. Some websites provide a unique service, while other websites seem to be more of the same.
Some of your friends join one website while others join another, and both of them are requesting to join them on their website of choice.

After a while you have an account with several of those websites, and you start to notice you are providing the same information over and over again, on every of those websites : personal details, interests, schools you attended, employers you worked for.
And you have to (re)connect to your friends on every of those websites.
Not to mention when something changes, for instance when you change jobs, you have to change it on every website and hope you don't forget any of them.

Wouldn't it be convenient if all of the information you provide on those websites, can be shared between those websites? If you want to change something, you can do it in one place and all other social networking websites where you have an account adopt these changes automatically? If you add a friend on one website, and that friend has an account on another website where you have an account too, that this friend is added there as well?

I'm not the only one asking the same questions. And it seems some effort is put into creating a Social Web, where this kind of (personal) data can be shared between (social networking) websites in a open, easy and secure way.
These are a few of the initiatives :

A recent presentation (June 2008) was held with an overview of these efforts and what the future will bring. Unfortunately, these efforts, for now, are quite theoretical and about creating standards based upon existing web standards. Several protocols are proposed (FOAF, XFN, hCard, GRDDL, RDF, OpenID, OAuth, REST, ...) to be used in this new standards.

No real usable application is available at the moment, not as far as I know, but the big players (MySpace, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Netlog, ...) are backing some of these initiatives.