Blogger: Mike Gotta
The article below provides a good overview of one way to look at distributed social networks. I have become a fan of microformats (e.g., hCard, XFN – some deeper insight here) and how they create “social network fragments” that other systems (perhaps using Google’s Social Graph API) can leverage by aggregating such fragments into a representation of someone’s social network or even a stream of a their activities (example here). There are also interesting synergies between XFN and identity (for more, check out this article Identity consolidation with the XFN rel="me" value) and and between XFN and FOAF.
After you think about some of the concepts outlined in the article, ask your “favorite enterprise vendor” where they stand on some of the following technology trends: microformats (especially hCard and XFN), FOAF, Apache Shindig (which leverages OpenSocial), Project SocialSite (sponsored by Sun) and related initiatives such as Google’s Social Graph API. Try not to be too disappointed by their replies - many vendors struggle to look beyond their own marketing efforts and product roadmaps.
In any case - the article below remains a good read...
The New Social Networking
The Distributed Social Network—or DSN—is the idea of bringing together disparate user information easily and interoperably between social services. It’s often used synonymously with ‘Portable Social Network’, which is a term more focused on moving data between services.
The motivation of DSN is not about being able to ‘dump’ social networks for others. This isn’t about being able to effortlessly quit Facebook and join Bebo. The motivation is to let people use different services with less effort—being able to get set and running with Dopplr and Flickr without having to find friends and contacts by hand every time.
This technology is about surfacing information which is already published. User names, profiles, and contact lists are already out there, buried in HTML. No user is being asked to expose themselves any more than they are; what we’re doing is to make that public information consumable in a consistent manner, to create a better user experience across sites.