Eran's blog

Distributed Social Anything

Following are generally unstructured thoughts and plans for a possible project. I’ve been thinking about something in this vain for a while but have never put those thoughts into a more permanent form so here goes. This post serves mostly as scratch paper for my ideas so feel free to skip it if you don’t like long, raw, technical posts.

For lack of a better name, I’m calling this Distributed Social Anything. The most concise description I can come up with is distributed Tribe.net. Completely distributed (and then aggregated for convenience :).

  • All content published and owned by the users.
  • All content is accessible by any would be aggregator and formatted according to open standards (mostly microformats).
  • Based on existing tools and technologies. The main publishing tool is a blog.
  • Compatible with current tools. The requirements to participate are few, users of most blog hosting services should be able to participate.

Features and concepts:

  • Identity is defined by a URL. Currently the entities in the system are users and groups, both will have a canonical URL that contains at least XFN data. This XFN data (slightly expanded) defines the standard social network for users but also group membership.
  • Reciprocal XFN links might be required for some of the relations defined later. This is optional and left to aggregators to decide.
  • Group membership is published in XFN. This might require reciprocal links between users and group.
  • Users can publish information about themselves using XFN and hCard. User rel=”me” to link to additional shards of identity.
  • Users publish content on their blog. This content is later aggregated by groups to create a coherent group view .
  • Channels are feeds of blog posts that belong to a specific set. Channels are defined by tags or categories. Each group has at least one channel. Posts marked with that channel’s ID will be part of that group’s discussions.
  • Discussion are annotated using citeRel. Group aggregators might display those in a threaded format
  • Displaying previous versions of posts (in case of editing) with a diff view would be nice
  • XFN links should be aggregated and searchable (similar to rubhub.com). A service that offers search in the XFN space would be very nice
  • Group aggregators should also be aware of rich data (events, listings, etc.)
  • The group site might be able to highlite specific type of rich data (images, bookmarks, etc.) and/or offer access to it using feeds/API
  • We need administrative control of the group – membership, post moderation, rules, access-control, etc.
  • API for the group aggregator
  • Note: group aggregators can collect content from many sources, not just blogs (e.g. flickr, delicious)

Existing support:

  • WordPress supports feeds for categories. Also posts can belong to more than one category. Free channels!
  • RubHub does some XFN search but does not seem to be open source 😦

To do:

  • Express group membership using XFN (rel=”memberof” ?)
  • Finalize citeRel.
  • Expand and improve on structured blogging.
  • A format for publishing group information.
  • Possibly replicate and improve on RubHub.
  • The group aggregator service.

Filed under: Aggregation, MicroFormats, Projects, Tagging

7 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. Alex Barnett says:

    I like it: “Completely distributed (and then aggregated for convenience :).”

    yup, that would do it for me.

  2. limbo says:

    I see only two working models for a distributed network:
    1. Download a client (like iMeem) that participates in the network.
    2. Aggregate the content to a central service.

    i hate downloads. i think most people do as well. the aggregation solution is problematic because the aggregator is not really distributed, it’s central. but if you use an open format, anybody can be an aggregator so that problem (theoretically) goes away.

  3. […] art to emerge. Eran’s also been blogging about his ideas for a project in his posts Distributed Social Anything, wherein he discusses a “distributed version of Tribe.net” and Using a D […]

  4. […] subject to the appropriate wiki page. Distributed Social Anything In case you missed the blog post, there’s now a whole trac wiki devoted to the project. I’ll be pursuing this project throu […]

  5. […] for public consumption by a long shot but at least i have a name and a domain. See details here and here. Ping me if you want in. Posted to Dis.Cussion discussion. This entry w […]

  6. […] m a community of people they recently alienated. They would also become more attractive to people who value their content (as should we all) and want to have more control over it than offered in most sit […]

  7. […] ;/div> Unified Communities This kind of corresponds to Eran’s idea of “distributed social anything“.  In SIOC, we use has_part and part_of to link any object to a particular co […]

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