[rdfweb-dev] Ecademy FOAF

Julian Bond julian_bond at v...
Tue Dec 31 12:22:00 UTC 2002

Steven Livingstone <ntw_uk at h...> wrote:
>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).

I'd better explain the specific implementation. Anyone's profile page is 
viewable on the web by anyone. But you can specify if the detail is 
hidden. You can also hide parts of the data such as email address, real 
address and phone numbers. The FOAF data for this followed the same 
rules so the same data is available to anyone in XML or HTML.

Your network of friends is available to anyone who's logged in. 
Initially I exposed this as well as XML but still obeying the same rules 
as above for each friend. This means that data that was only available 
to logged in members was now available in XML which is probably a step 
too far. What I ought to do is to have some authentication in the XML 
URL but I'm unsure of how to do this "properly". As a short cut I've now 
added a switch to say whether your detail is exposed in XML and it only 
shows friends who have also turned on this switch.

Most of the complaints from the active members were not really about 
this FOAF XML at all. Rather they were about the philosophy behind it 
and they're feelings about exposing their rolodex to the world. This is 
partly because these are people who make money from their rolodex and 
hence see it as a valuable personal possession not to be shared. This is 
almost diametrically opposed to the geek position ;-) of JFDI!

What's a bit sad about all this is that I threw the code up to stimulate 
debate about what we would do with it, not to argue about the code 
itself. My Bad!

I've also pointed Adrian Scott of Ryze at the FOAF web pages and he 
seems interested. Ryze has the same issues in that the profile page is 
publicly accessible but the friends list is only visible once you've 
logged in.

Julian Bond Email&MSM: julian.bond at v...
Webmaster: http://www.ecademy.com/
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