[rdfweb-dev] Ecademy FOAF

Steven Livingstone ntw_uk at h...
Tue Dec 31 09:07:14 UTC 2002

First, yes, I agree with you - they don't fully understand what FOAF is/does 
which is maybe a marketing thing.

However, there was a couple of valid points. The first was that it allows 
access to all of the contacts (or friends) you had in your network, which 
isn't easily accessible via the Ecademy web site ( i think you need to be a 
paid member to get them). On top of this, the pages weren't under any 
authenticaion (yes, i tried). So i could just specifiy the URL and get back 
the FOAF for any given user. I don't know that any of the users complaining 
actually knew that, but that may have been a valid argument, given that you 
can't get this kind of information simply from their web page (which is 
freely accessible).

FOAF is a cool idea, so i guess all it needs is some security restrictions 
on it - maybe as optional. Probably this could be more of an implementation 
issue (that's certainly the esasiest option), but maybe there could be some 
guidance in FOAF as how to protect the data you have. "these can be public", 
"these are private", encrypt this... etc... Delineation is important too!

Just some ideas based on the freeback I saw on ecademy.


>From: "Bill Kearney" <wkearney99 at h...>
>Reply-To: rdfweb-dev at yahoogroups.com
>To: <rdfweb-dev at yahoogroups.com>
>Subject: Re: [rdfweb-dev] Ecademy FOAF
>Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2002 02:02:36 -0500
>This is unfortunate. This is much the same irrational reaction people 
>have to
>scraping of HTML pages for reaggregation into RSS feeds.
>They fear that which they do not understand. It's like the chicken and the 
>at it's worst. The 'under the radar' approach to RSS largely avoided this
>paranoia. This worked well because it's just 'stories' not groups or
>relationships of people.
>There's something missing in exposing the value of "like minded-ness" to 
>They don't grasp that this is about people connecting with other *people* 
>virtue of using ideas. It seems they've been totally brainwashed into 
>the web is either some narrowly focused geek talk or e-commerce. Of course 
>could argue this is a larger overall societal failure but that's a bit 
>I've said this before and I'll say it again, foaf needs some better 
>of grouping. "knows" without qualifiers is NOT enough. This lacking will 
>people off the concept. It's been my experience that to most folks who you 
>is not as important as how you know them.
>-Bill Kearney
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Ian Davis" <iand at i...>
>To: <rdfweb-dev at yahoogroups.com>
>Sent: Monday, December 30, 2002 11:43 AM
>Subject: [rdfweb-dev] Ecademy FOAF
> > Sadly, due to some extremely hostile reactions, Julian has had to
> > disable the automatic production of FOAF from Ecademy profiles [1].
> > It now has to be explicitly set on by members, an action unlikely to
> > be performed by most until there is widespread understanding of what
> > FOAF is.
> >
> > Much of the debate revolved around the idea of other applications
> > automatically aggregating this information, despite the fact that
> > there was no more information in the FOAF than there already was on
> > people's HTML profile pages. I guess the perception was that FOAF puts
> > it all together in one place in a format specifically intended for
> > machine consumption.
> >
> > Good try Julian, we'll just have to work harder at helping people
> > understand FOAF and its benefits.

The new MSN 8: smart spam protection and 3 months FREE*. 

More information about the foaf-dev mailing list