Social Network Portability
One of several User Interface ideas and suggestions for working with microformats.
Why is it that every single social network community site makes you:
- re-enter all your personal profile info (name, email, birthday, URL etc.)?
- re-add all your friends?
In addition, why do you have to:
- re-turn off notifications?
- re-specify privacy preferences?
- re-block negative people?
AKA "social network fatigue problem" and "social network update/maintenance problem".
When you join a new site, you should be able to import or preferably subscribe to
- your profile information
- your social network
from any existing profile of yours.
In addition it would be nice if preferences around:
also transferred between profiles.
AKA a social internetwork, a network of social networks.
Design Patterns and Recipes
The "How To" for social network profile sites that want to solve the above problems and achieve the above goals.
- Publish microformats in your user profiles:
- implement hCard on user profile pages. See hCard supporting user profiles for sites that have already done this.
- implement hCard+XFN on the list of friends on your user profile pages. See hCard+XFN supporting friends lists for sites that already do this. (e.g. [Twitter]).
- Subscribe to microformats for your user profiles:
- when signing up a new user:
- let a user fill out and "auto-sync" from one of their existing hCard supporting user profiles, their name, their icon etc. Satisfaction Inc already supports this.
- let a user fill out and "auto-sync" their list of friends from one of their existing hCard+XFN supporting friends lists. Dopplr.com already supports this.
- when signing up a new user:
Discussion and suggestions
- Jeremy Keith: Twittering:
Here’s what I want: when I go to the latest social networking fadsite, I want it to ask for my URL. Then it can go off and fetch my hCard and XFN list. A pre-filled form for my details and a pre-filled list of potential contacts can then be presented to me.
- Derek Featherstone: Solving problems with social networking
- Jeremy Keith: More thoughts on portable social networks
- Glenn Jones: Microformats and portable social network
- Velvetsarah has posted a screenshot and brainstorm about how a site could handle importing XFN enabled contacts.
- Jeremiah Owyang: Twittering:
What if we could port all our friends and family from one social network to another. Why do we have to continue to add people = annoying
- Brian Oberkirch: Highrise, microformats and portable social networks
- Kevin Lawver: A Portable Social Network Prototype - A simple Ruby on Rails app that uses OpenID + XFN to look for users of the site w/ the same homepage as the href value and allows you to add them as contacts.
- Robert Gaal: Making OpenID your only online profile: Alpha Dash - An attempt to create one dashboard, to be used as a starting point for all social networks. It contains four elements: identity, ownership, presence and contacts (see comments also)
Social Network Portability FAQ
- Doesn't OpenID address the re-enter all your personal profile info problem?
- No it does not. OpenID is fundamentally about proving to one site that you own or control another particular URL. Nothing more. All the profile stuff is extra and even then the specific property set is unspecified in OpenID. That's where hCard comes in. hCard specifies a vocabulary of personal profile info (name, email, birthday, URL etc.) based on industry standard vCard. And in fact that's all you need to solve the "re-enter all your personal info" problem for public sites - no need to authenticate public URLs via OpenID, just read them and parse their hCard(s).
- Doesn't OpenID provide people with a way to create a globally unique identifier for themselves?
- It is URL (by way of DNS) that creates a globally unique identifier, not OpenID. All OpenID does is add authentication on top of having a URL that is itself a globally unique identifier, that is, OpenID is a way of asserting that you "own" or otherwise control a particular URL to another service/site. The essential quality of being a globally unique identifier is present in a URL even without OpenID. Thus, no, it is not OpenID that creates a globally unique identifier, rather, simply using a URL creates a globally unique identifier. A URL by itself can be used as a basis for portable social networks, since it provides a way of referring to a single person that makes sense across the whole Web. And as such, people can (and will) create multiple URLs that represent them, so a method of enabling people to tie their URLs together (e.g. XFN's rel="me") becomes important. However, by adding authentication, OpenID can enhance existing globally unique identifier URLs for people, by permitting authenticated access to (perhaps more information in) profiles and social networks represented at those URLs using microformats.
- For import/subscribe to hCard user profiles, "we need a defined heuristic for picking out the page owner from the friends." - Kevin Marks in IRC.
- There are some thoughts and proposed heuristics for this in hCard brainstorming: representative hCard discovery.Tantek 14:35, 31 Jul 2007 (PDT)
2007-07-28 Meeting between Daniel Burka, Tantek Çelik, Eran Globen, Brian Oberkirch at Ritual Coffee Roasters, San Francsico, CA.
- discussed portable social networks, problem statement, goals, design patterns, recipes