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May 17, 2008


Nate Cull

Currently, with the social networking systems we have, the real comparison is not to cars but to railways.

The Web, the TCP/IP Internet and the public phone system are all like 'highways' in that you are free by design and law to use whatever 'vehicle' or client you want to navigate them.

But the social networks are privately owned spaces that by design (and sometimes law) only allow clients also owned by the Company to use them.

That's why there were so many monopolistic railway barons back in the nineteenth century. Like the social networking space (and the pre-Web Online Services before them, Compuserve and The WELL et al). The barriers to entry were huge, and the single provider controlled *both* the client experience AND the content. When the content is people, of course, as it is for communication and transport, you really do have a 'captive market'.

The car analogy only comes into play *after* you have created a freely and legally interoperable shared data space. That's not something that's hugely important for a free society, but will happen if people realise they need it and make it happen.

Mei Brill

It'd be great when this interoperability becomes a reality. But who knows when that'll be.

While we're holding our breath for it... anthoer related question is - "how can one best organize/manage one's online presense given so many choices of outlets"?

Mei Brill

It'd be great when this interoperability becomes a reality. But who knows when that'll be.

While we're holding our breath for it... another related question is - how can one best organize/manage one's online presence given so many choices of outlets?

Kingsley Idehen


Social Networks, like Shared Bookmarking systems, Blogs, Wikis etz.. all fall into the same category (in my eyes): Data Spaces on the Web.

They all end up exposing data access via APIs (SOAP or REST), eventually; which makes them no different than a traditional DBMS with a Call Level Interface (a native OS locked API for a specific DBMS).

Linked Data enables Virtualization across these Data Spaces. Which is basically what OpenLink Data Spaces is about (by leveraging our Virtuoso Virtualization engine for SQL, XML, and RDF). Just get a URI and point the ODS platform to all you Data Spaces on the Web, that's it, and from that point onwards, your URI becomes your "Data Source Name" (DSN).

All that I described above has worked fine within the old Client-Server realm of the enterprise for eons, pre-Web ubiquity. The same rules apply to the Web courtesy of Linked Data, but with the added advantage of the mass connectibvity that the Web accords and the level of data granularity that Linked Data facilitates.


1. http://virtuoso.openlinksw.com/dataspace/dav/wiki/Main/GetAPersonalURIIn5MinutesOrLess - Get a URI in 5 Minutes or Less
2. http://virtuoso.openlinksw.com/presentations/DataPortability_and_DataSpaces-2.ppt - OpenLink Data Spaces & Data Portability


Hjalmar Gislason

I think you're smack on.

Reading this made me think of an old blog post of my own - I'm waiting for the Trillian of social networking - from 2004, which was pretty much along the same lines.

Probably the most interesting bit, reading it again now is to see how much things have changed in both the IM and the Social Networking space. Facebook and MySpace didn't really exist, and who on earth remembers Trillian anymore?

David Scott Lewis

Ning comes to mind, as does Yahoo Groups: Each is a platform for social networks.

Chris Saad will have his hands full, to be sure. Let's face it, some of the larger players will want to have a wall. Maintaining a wall may not be doable in the long(er)-term, but may allow certain dominant players to increase their market share (and mind share) while interoperability and portability issues are finally (re)solved.

But this poses an interesting question for Twine. A couple of twines have 1,000+ members (not including the Twine twines): Web 3.0, Apps. Each could, in theory, be its own social network. This hasn't happened yet, but we should explore ways to make it happen, you Radarians with your Web 3.0 twine, myself with my Apps twine.

On a small scale, QBL serves this function, as do many private twines. But for 1,000+ "social networks," a different approach is likely needed. However, they're still a far cry from the likes of MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn in numbers. Yet, 1,000 would be a lot for a Yahoo Group or Ning -- and Twine, still in a private beta, already has two twines with over 1,000 members (mine is approaching 1,500 and is pretty much self-sustaining at this point). But how do we convert Web 3.0 and Apps to a true social network? Or, do we even want to do this?

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