In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve got a real thing about portable social networks. And I’m not the only one. At a recent meetup in San Francisco a bunch of the Web’s finest minds got together to tackle this issue. You can track the progress (and contribute) on the microformats wiki.
Ever since then, Brian Oberkirch has been doing a sterling job documenting the issues involved:
- OpenID, Portable Social Networks and the Darowski Problem
- Designing Portable Social Networks
- Making Profile Import a Snap
- Bringing Your Social Network With You
- Insanely Great Services Enabled By Portable Social Networks
- Building Blocks for Portable Social Networks
- …and the list is set to grow.
Head on over there, read what Brian has to say and join in the conversation in the comments.
Lest you think that this is some niche itch that needs to be scratched, I can tell you from personal experience that everybody I’ve spoken to thinks that is a real issue that needs tackling. Heck, even Wired News is getting upset in the article Slap in the Facebook: It’s Time for Social Networks to Open Up:
We would like to place an open call to the web-programming community to solve this problem. We need a new framework based on open standards. Think of it as a structure that links individual sites and makes explicit social relationships, a way of defining micro social networks within the larger network of the web.
Weirdly, the same article then dismisses XFN, saying
Trouble is, the data format doesn’t yet offer any tools for managing friends. That’s kind of like dismissing HTML because it doesn’t offer you a way of managing your bookmarks. XFN is a format—a really simply format. Building a tool to manage relationships would be relatively easy. But you have to have the format before you can have the tool.