August 19, 2007

BarCampBlock: Social Network Portability

Led by: Tantek Çelik

why do i have to re-add all of my profile information, re-add friends, etc.?

what about change jobs? move?

base on assumption that user owns their own data - should be able to display profile information anywhere - need open standard to do this


  • profile info - vCard (rfc2426), hCard is the same thing, but on the web; doesn't do arbitrary key/value pairs, has 80/20 sweet spot of information; already social sites that, today, are publishing your info as hCard.
  • friend list - no good standard
    • Blog roles is a good analog
    • XFN - add rel="friend", supported part of HREF; can do asymmetrical relationships

Satisfaction - they will import hCard information from other sites when you want to create a new account

Right model is to subscribe to hCard - just poll it, no special protcoal (like RSS) needed. Incombent on consumer to figure out the diff.

hCard only handles public information

OpenID - could be used to try export personal information. Give permission to 3rd party site to access OpenID. Uses website URL to prove that you are who you say you are.

Tantek Celik talking about social network portabilty.
Tantek Celik talking about social network portabilty.

XFN (xhtml friends network) - renders in a browser, but FOAF doesn't - FOAF is somewhat fuzzy as a standard

  • It is HTML, just ad some extra elements to existing tags
  • simple to understand
  • supports differnent granularity for contacts - persion in your XFN list can be a contact, acquaintence, friend, family, etc. - will need import UIs that understand this and give this richness (only import family, etc)
  • - homepage for XFN

can combine hCard and XFN - sprinkle in hCard information into XFN data. Add very little code to make it work. Sites like Cork'd, Dopplr (will import social network), LastFM, and Twitter already support this.

By default, always exporting - the page is the API, is the export.

If you change your URL, you can totally disconnect from your social network. could be bad, or could be what you want.

Identity consolidation - use rel="me" in XFN, to essentially denote that you are friending yourself - or yourself on another site

  • need to do bidirection claim in order to verify that it really is the same person
  • claims, and claims Can know that Tantek owns both URLs.

Want vendors to compete to be more open.

ClaimID - identity, also do microID (hash of e-mail address).

Do simple things, evolve simple stanards, make building blocks (the UNIX way), add more complex feature if needed.

Doing this stuff, hCard and XFN, puts you on the open social web.

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Posted by andyr at August 19, 2007 3:57 PM
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