If you are anything like me (which I hope for your sake you’re not), you’ll be constantly tripping over the names of new data portability initiatives concerned with exchanging social information. Combine any of the following words and create a new name [‘Open’, ‘Social’, ‘Contacts’, ‘Data’, ‘ID’], I checked all the domains and guess what? They’re all taken. (No shit, Sherlock)
I thought it would be helpful to list these initiatives and provide a quick comparison of what they do and why they exist. This is my current understanding of the various players. Please comment and correct me where I’m wrong or have omitted important initiatives.
|Purpose:||Widget framework for creating applications for use in networking sites, think Facebook Application Framework but then from Google for everybody. Create an application once and deploy it across multiple social sites.|
|Phase:||Building interest, initial framework|
|Participants:||Google, MySpace, Plaxo|
|Purpose:||Distributed Social network, alternative to OpenSocial. Two different approaches to the same problem. DiSo can be seen as portable social networking.|
|Technologies:||Microformats, OpenID, OpenContacts|
|More:||DiSo existential interview, Podcast|
|Participants:||WordPress plugin , OpenContacts|
|Purpose:||Part of DiSo, but more focused on contacts. Think of this as OpenID for contacts. A group of developers and entrepreneurs that is developing a protocol for distributed contact management.|
|Technologies:||OpenSocial, OpenID, Microformats, etc.|
|Phase:||Building interest, initial sketches|
|Facebook Application Framework|
|Purpose:||Create application within Facebook. Limited access to Facebook friends, cannot use Facebook connection data outside of Facebook due to lengthy Tos.|
|Phase:||Fairly mature and widespread usage|
|Purpose:||Development is underway for a protocol to share identity, photos, videos and other forms of personal data between your chosen (and trusted) tools or vendors|
|Technologies:||All of them|
|More:||Chris Saad, Technical Blueprint, Brad Fitz, DP increases value of the net|
|Phase:||Building interest, drafts yet?|
|Participants:||Many. Including Google, Facebook, Plaxo, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Flickr, Digg|
|Purpose:||Protocol that allows the exchange of Social Networking data, uses already available standards like to provide the goal of having a decentralised social network. An implementation example is currently available that shows how NoseRub could connect social networks.|
|Technologies:||OpenID, RSS, FOAF|
|Phase:||Building interest, example implementation is downloadable|
|Social Graph API|
|Purpose:||Basically a Google index of relationships publicly available via XFN and FOAF “links”, this index is available via an API so that users can easily connect to friends aready connected to in other social networking sites.|
|More:||Video, Blogoscoped, Tim O’Reilly’s take on Social Graph API|
|Phase:||Released last friday.|
The most interesting thing regarding these initiatives is: the mass of attention it is gathering towards “who’s data is it anyway?”. Apart from the social networking fatigue we’ll start seeing soon, it is important to be able to connect your personal social graph. The competition, relative strengths and differences between these initiatives will help mature data exchange and hopefully increasingly move the web towards the semantic web.
Oh yeah, and bring world peace of course.
UPDATE1: Added NoseRub
UPDATE2: Google just announced Social Graph API, which I’ve included in this overview.