FW: [K-Logs] How Social Neworking Software Helps and Where it Doesn't
danny666 at virgilio.it
Tue Jan 6 16:53:14 UTC 2004
It just occurred to me that this post (that prompted me to say "FOAF!" on
that list) might be of general interest here. John Robb was until recently
was President (or somesuch) of Userland, a company not known for its
embracing of RDF, so my guess is he hasn't had much exposure to FOAF. He
doesn't do a bad job of coming up with requirements though.
From: John Robb [mailto:jrobb at oddpost.com]
Sent: 05 January 2004 16:25
To: klogs at yahoogroups.com
Subject: [K-Logs] How Social Neworking Software Helps and Where it
My take: There isn't any magic in social networking software. The value
this software provides is much more basic than many people think. Here's
what it provides:
1) It contains solid (but private) contact information on all members.
2) Profiles are available on each member (on LinkedIn you can put in a
resume for example).
3) There is a safe, formal method of requesting contact with other members
you don't know. This is like UserLand's spam free e-mail but more formal.
4) The connection info (you know D through B and C) is more of a gimmick
than something that provides real value. There is a small amount of comfort
involved in knowing how you are connected to other people (you can also get
info on how many people they are connected to, which is like a PageRank for
social networks). This is the part of these networks that confuses
5) There is a search function for finding other members based on information
in the profile (interests, company, job title, etc).
Now that we have demystified social networking software, let's think about
how to apply the features in an open system that works in conjunction with
weblogs. The current systems are too closed and limited to be of much long
term value. Here's my thinking:
1) Solid information on weblog authors. It would be great to have
standardized weblog profile and contact information. Currently, contact and
profile information on weblogs, if it is there at all, is all over the map.
It really sucks. Sure, you can read what someone is writing on their
weblog, but you often need ESP to determine who they are, what they do, etc.
2) A safe way to share contact information. Way too many people publish
their e-mail address in the clear on the their weblogs. There should be a
way to restrict that (via a spam free e-mail feature) that would allow the
weblog's author to release solid contact information (e-mail, phone,
address) to readers that they authorize.
3) Search!! This is a simple and powerful feature. Want to find Microsoft
or Google webloggers? Why wait for someone to build a list that may or may
not be out of date? A search function on social networking profile
information derived from weblogs would solve this quickly and with much more
accuracy than a random Google search.
4) Categorization. Have a look at Jon Udell's lists of CXO webloggers on
the right hand side of his weblog. How easy would this be to create if you
had solid contact information contained in a social networking system. In
fact, you could build directories on the fly customized to your needs based
on good profile information.
5) Community and portability. The advent of open profile information would
allow people to create custom communities. There is a lot of power in
creating ad hoc communities of members using this type of information. It
could also be used to allow members of that community to build contact lists
in other applications (e-mail and IM) that are constantly and automatically
updated (a new role for Newsgator -- creating auto updated contact lists for
OK, this would be very, very easy to do in the weblog world if we start
right now. All that is needed is a simple standard for an XML profile (as
simple as RSS) that can be published by weblog authors in a form on their
weblog tool of choice. If the vendors (UserLand, Blogger, and SixApart) did
this, within weeks sites like Feedster and Technorati would have tools that
took advantage of that information. This would then usher in a whole new
deluge of innovation similar to what we are seeing in RSS today. Let's put
Friendster out of business and open this up. It would also make social
networking software more useful for closed Intranet weblog networks.
Here are the features that I want to see on a weblog profile system (in
> A simple XML profile for public consumption.
> A simple XML profile that is password protected that includes restricted
profile information (contact information in particular).
> An easy-to-use profile publishing page on my weblog tool of choice. I
should be able to restrict on the form, via a simple checkbox, any
information I don't want to publish in the public domain.
> Spam free e-mail introductions (or an automated introduction system that
works via my dynamic weblog tool) where I can release my restricted
information to people I designate.
(I will probably write more about this today on my weblog)
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