Can we get a first step in social networking portability?

Earlier this week, during Marc Canter’s panel at LeWeb, I asked whether we could get a first step on all the social networks toward true social graph portability (which probably won’t happen because it’s too complex to do, because there are too many privacy rules, and because companies aren’t likely to give up their lockin anytime soon — imagine being able to drag all your information along with all of that of your friends from Facebook to MySpace and you’ll seee just how hard portability is going to prove to be). Translation: I agree with James Snell, who just made that point.

But here’s a challenge for social networks: how about you all add links to other social networks. So, when I look up Dave Winer on Twitter, for instance, I could see that he’s also on Flickr and Facebook.

For instance, I’m on Upcoming.org. If you visit me there you won’t have a clue that I’m also on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Yelp and a variety of other networks.

Plaxo and Pownce are two that are already letting me add links to other networks I’m on. I’m wondering if the industry could come up with some auto discovery protocols and/or ways to manually link things up?

Doing just this small step would greatly help us get down the road to some sort of federated system where I don’t need to fill out my information for each of my networks I’m on. It really is a pain in the behind to keep them all up to date.

Please? Pretty please?

Comments

  1. One small step of cross-SNS compatibility, one giant step for the distributed mesh.

    Creating relationships across SNS has always been on the list of features to implement in the ‘open social networking’ world of the future.

    The trick is – “how to develop such a beast?” I bet Factory Joe has an answer!

  2. One small step of cross-SNS compatibility, one giant step for the distributed mesh.

    Creating relationships across SNS has always been on the list of features to implement in the ‘open social networking’ world of the future.

    The trick is – “how to develop such a beast?” I bet Factory Joe has an answer!

  3. It seems like Facebook are letting more and more information sneak out everyday. I suspect they see the long term limitations of the lock-in model.

    Hopefully wider acceptance of OpenId will speed up the whole move towards data portability.

  4. It seems like Facebook are letting more and more information sneak out everyday. I suspect they see the long term limitations of the lock-in model.

    Hopefully wider acceptance of OpenId will speed up the whole move towards data portability.

  5. Just an FYI, there is already a protocol/format for this. It’s called XFN and by simply add rel=”me” to links from your profile to another page that you author or is another profile of you, you’ve begun “consolidating your identity”.

    The reality is that this is all already possible today, with formats and protocols that already exist. We just need some focused effort to build the libraries to support these widespread technologies.

  6. Just an FYI, there is already a protocol/format for this. It’s called XFN and by simply add rel=”me” to links from your profile to another page that you author or is another profile of you, you’ve begun “consolidating your identity”.

    The reality is that this is all already possible today, with formats and protocols that already exist. We just need some focused effort to build the libraries to support these widespread technologies.

  7. Technically while it’s not easy it’s also not hard?

    The harder part comes to, again, branding and trust.

    For soon this will be yet another overcrowded space,
    meaning, no lack of providers in the name of either
    identity and/or aggregation, as “independent” providers,
    like, eg., plaxo, allofme, claimid, etc..(plus a whole
    bunch still in the stealth mode, plus the big heads
    are very likely working on the same…)

    No OAuth isn’t really the true killer.. websites have
    been asking for username/passwords to 3rd party sites
    by now… they all say, those will not be stored. So
    sooner or later (hope this is not going to happen), to
    fight providers not implementing OAuth or the like,
    the long tail sites (or even peer competitors) will
    start to store your un/pw values to 3rd party sites,
    and ask the user consent — and likely a lot of the
    users will agree (yes, unfortunately) for convenience.
    In fact, isn’t that’s what the webmail providers have
    been doing to pull external pop3 mailboxes…??

  8. Technically while it’s not easy it’s also not hard?

    The harder part comes to, again, branding and trust.

    For soon this will be yet another overcrowded space,
    meaning, no lack of providers in the name of either
    identity and/or aggregation, as “independent” providers,
    like, eg., plaxo, allofme, claimid, etc..(plus a whole
    bunch still in the stealth mode, plus the big heads
    are very likely working on the same…)

    No OAuth isn’t really the true killer.. websites have
    been asking for username/passwords to 3rd party sites
    by now… they all say, those will not be stored. So
    sooner or later (hope this is not going to happen), to
    fight providers not implementing OAuth or the like,
    the long tail sites (or even peer competitors) will
    start to store your un/pw values to 3rd party sites,
    and ask the user consent — and likely a lot of the
    users will agree (yes, unfortunately) for convenience.
    In fact, isn’t that’s what the webmail providers have
    been doing to pull external pop3 mailboxes…??

  9. “For instance, I’m on Upcoming.org. If you visit me there you won’t have a clue that I’m also on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Yelp and a variety of other networks.”

    Isn’t that what your own web page is for? Most of the services you mention provide some web widgets which allow you to put views of the data you hold on them on another page. Use them, and you have a single social interface.

  10. “For instance, I’m on Upcoming.org. If you visit me there you won’t have a clue that I’m also on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Yelp and a variety of other networks.”

    Isn’t that what your own web page is for? Most of the services you mention provide some web widgets which allow you to put views of the data you hold on them on another page. Use them, and you have a single social interface.

  11. There’s some web-apps, like MyBlogLog and Lijit, which allow me to add nearly every (as far as I can see) social service that I’m a member of. And I love the way both Facebook and Twitter allow me to search my Gmail-account for people. So I don’t see why—except sheer laziness—other “services” cannot provide the same service.

  12. There’s some web-apps, like MyBlogLog and Lijit, which allow me to add nearly every (as far as I can see) social service that I’m a member of. And I love the way both Facebook and Twitter allow me to search my Gmail-account for people. So I don’t see why—except sheer laziness—other “services” cannot provide the same service.

  13. “Doing just this small step would greatly help us get down the road to some sort of federated system where I don’t need to fill out my information for each of my networks I’m on. It really is a pain in the behind to keep them all up to date.”

    I have overcome this by not being a member of any social networking site. I found this solves all and any problems encountered when trying to update an army of sites.

  14. “Doing just this small step would greatly help us get down the road to some sort of federated system where I don’t need to fill out my information for each of my networks I’m on. It really is a pain in the behind to keep them all up to date.”

    I have overcome this by not being a member of any social networking site. I found this solves all and any problems encountered when trying to update an army of sites.

  15. Opening up the silos:

    This is difficult. OpenSocial is just an idea right now. And when Google release the OS api, it will still be up to each network whether they open up the social graph for their users or not. It seems to me that this isn’t going to change very quickly. Companies have a business need to lock in their users.

    For the ‘help’ sites, I had to write different code for each of the social networks we can link to. Here it is:

    Facebook – used their html markup language FBML.

    Twitter – used their REST API.

    LiveJournal – created communities ‘helpclimate’, etc. within LJ and used RSS feeds to each community.

    Hi5 – created groups within Hi5 and used RSS feeds to each group.

    Multiply – created groups within Multiply and used RSS feeds to each group.

    Individual blog – RSS feed to the blog; only those posts to categories ‘helpclimate’, etc. are taken to the help sites.

    What comes out of this is that RSS can be a standard format for moving from one site to another. It can be used to move the ‘graph’ – the connections between people, and content – what people have posted to their social network.
    Help sites:

    http://www.HelpWorldClimate.com
    http://www.HelpWorldPoverty.com
    http://www.HelpWorldPeace.com
    http://www.HelpWorldWildlife.com

  16. Opening up the silos:

    This is difficult. OpenSocial is just an idea right now. And when Google release the OS api, it will still be up to each network whether they open up the social graph for their users or not. It seems to me that this isn’t going to change very quickly. Companies have a business need to lock in their users.

    For the ‘help’ sites, I had to write different code for each of the social networks we can link to. Here it is:

    Facebook – used their html markup language FBML.

    Twitter – used their REST API.

    LiveJournal – created communities ‘helpclimate’, etc. within LJ and used RSS feeds to each community.

    Hi5 – created groups within Hi5 and used RSS feeds to each group.

    Multiply – created groups within Multiply and used RSS feeds to each group.

    Individual blog – RSS feed to the blog; only those posts to categories ‘helpclimate’, etc. are taken to the help sites.

    What comes out of this is that RSS can be a standard format for moving from one site to another. It can be used to move the ‘graph’ – the connections between people, and content – what people have posted to their social network.
    Help sites:

    http://www.HelpWorldClimate.com
    http://www.HelpWorldPoverty.com
    http://www.HelpWorldPeace.com
    http://www.HelpWorldWildlife.com

  17. I have links of all my links on all my sites. I don’t know if I want someone to know everything about me, unless I give it to them. Social Networking is big enough as it is.

  18. I have links of all my links on all my sites. I don’t know if I want someone to know everything about me, unless I give it to them. Social Networking is big enough as it is.

  19. As in 9) above. How about starting by putting a YASN-Roll on this very page? Where the YASN-Roll is a list of pointers to your profile page on all the other services you use.

  20. As in 9) above. How about starting by putting a YASN-Roll on this very page? Where the YASN-Roll is a list of pointers to your profile page on all the other services you use.

  21. I think this switching function is something people should be able to do easily on their own web pages, rather than have links to other services appear on every social network we belong to.

  22. I think this switching function is something people should be able to do easily on their own web pages, rather than have links to other services appear on every social network we belong to.

  23. I can’t help you with getting the existing players to change, but if you want a new breed of SN software to emerge that embraces openness and a distributed, federated model, that we can do (and are doing). When it’s ready, OpenQabal will be a truly decentralized social networking platform that will allow seamless social graph navigation across instances (and across sites running on other software if they want to adopt common standards).

    It will be sometime in 2008 before we have all the social graph functionality implemented, but in the meantime take a look at OpenQabal as simply a powerful blog hosting and forums package; and imagine what will happen once the ability to manage the social graph becomes part of the platform.

    For more info: http://www.jroller.com/openqabal or https://openqabal.dev.java.net

  24. I can’t help you with getting the existing players to change, but if you want a new breed of SN software to emerge that embraces openness and a distributed, federated model, that we can do (and are doing). When it’s ready, OpenQabal will be a truly decentralized social networking platform that will allow seamless social graph navigation across instances (and across sites running on other software if they want to adopt common standards).

    It will be sometime in 2008 before we have all the social graph functionality implemented, but in the meantime take a look at OpenQabal as simply a powerful blog hosting and forums package; and imagine what will happen once the ability to manage the social graph becomes part of the platform.

    For more info: http://www.jroller.com/openqabal or https://openqabal.dev.java.net

  25. Our service at http://FreeMyFriends is designed to allow us as end users to use our social graph across any site. Version 1.01 of the API which is currently live achieves our initial goal of making the end user effort be 0. This means no entering password or choosing site etc for the end user. It’s all “automagic” as far as the end user is concerned.

    Here’s a link to how the service works http://freemyfriends.com/HowItWorks.aspx

    We’re looking for feedback on the API – http://freemyfriends.com/Api/Default.aspx

    And also for ideas on how to get sites to start using the service. We can be reached at freeemyfriends@freemyfriends.com

  26. Our service at http://FreeMyFriends is designed to allow us as end users to use our social graph across any site. Version 1.01 of the API which is currently live achieves our initial goal of making the end user effort be 0. This means no entering password or choosing site etc for the end user. It’s all “automagic” as far as the end user is concerned.

    Here’s a link to how the service works http://freemyfriends.com/HowItWorks.aspx

    We’re looking for feedback on the API – http://freemyfriends.com/Api/Default.aspx

    And also for ideas on how to get sites to start using the service. We can be reached at freeemyfriends@freemyfriends.com

  27. Marc’s on track about Factory Joe being on track (and he checked in at #9 above, but completely failed to mention, so I’ll do it!)

    DiSo

    Distributed Social Networking. These guys are the real rock stars behind all of this stuff. The rest of us are just holding on tight for the ride!

  28. Marc’s on track about Factory Joe being on track (and he checked in at #9 above, but completely failed to mention, so I’ll do it!)

    DiSo

    Distributed Social Networking. These guys are the real rock stars behind all of this stuff. The rest of us are just holding on tight for the ride!

  29. I’d prefer an integrated social networking website rather than everyone using different things.

    Variety is good but people just seem to be following trends and hopping on the band wagon from one to another eliminating the point.

  30. I’d prefer an integrated social networking website rather than everyone using different things.

    Variety is good but people just seem to be following trends and hopping on the band wagon from one to another eliminating the point.

  31. I think social network must also impart some learning into the acticty stream, all the user is doing is saying Hi and reply with witha nother Hi.

    Integrating new features into social network will be cool, if that possible, Hence drupal is a good start if you need flexibility in your network

  32. I think social network must also impart some learning into the acticty stream, all the user is doing is saying Hi and reply with witha nother Hi.

    Integrating new features into social network will be cool, if that possible, Hence drupal is a good start if you need flexibility in your network