Simon Willison’s Weblog


Decentralised social networking

6th January 2004

I know I’m late to the party, but my recent experiments with LinkedIn and Friendster have got me all interested in the potential of software that bulids on top of people’s own social networks. There’s just one thing that’s been bugging me, best explained by this quote from Om Malik:

The question I have is: why the F**K should I share my network of contacts with these commercial entities. They are like BlogSpot that does nothing for my brand equity and in many ways chews me out after making the network connections. Thus what I want is a “MoveableType” of social networking. Blogs took off because it was about one person—me. My social networks should be of my making for me. Lets figure out a way to cut out the middlemen.

Via John Battelle, here’s the answer: Plink, a social search engine which uses information crawled from decentralised FOAF files. It’s nicely put together and could be just the incentive I need to finally put together my own FOAF file.

Plink is also a nice example of the kind of thing the semantic web hopes to offer. People provide information in easily parsed formats, then others bulid third party applications on top of them that may never have been envisaged by the creators of the original standards. Feedster is another great example of this effect in action.

This is Decentralised social networking by Simon Willison, posted on 6th January 2004.

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