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Thoughts on the Social Graph

CmdrTaco posted about 7 years ago | from the something-to-think-about dept.

The Internet 111

Jamie found an excellent story about the trouble with social graphs. The author discusses the proliferation of social networking websites, the annoying problems this creates, and proposes an open solution to much of the problem. Essentially he is talking about an API for all those relationship systems not under the control of any single commercial entity, coupled with a shared login system. Had things like this been popularized a half a decade ago, we'd be looking at a different internet.

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Yawn. (3, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 7 years ago | (#20292141)

Yet another article about how all social networks should be standardized and have centralized user management. This is the Internet, folks. Decentralization is the name of the game. Get used to it.

Re:Yawn. (5, Informative)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 7 years ago | (#20292251)

TFA says: A centralized "owner" of the social graph is bad for the Internet.

It seems to be talking about a system where anyone can run their own server according to the open standard APIs, and hence will not be centralised.

Although he's right that people are tired of readding friends on each network, one flaw is that "friend" has different meanings. On some, it's simply "This person is my friend". On some like Facebook, it also means they can see information about you that others might not. On LiveJournal however (which was created by the author of this article), it goes far beyond simply "friend"; it indicates which journals you want to read, and who can see your "friends only" entries. So conceivably, who I want as a friend on Facebook isn't necessarily the same as who I want as a "friend" on LJ.

Now theoretically this can be handled in that "people whose journals I want to read" could be a subset of anyone I list as my friend (i.e., you have an option for each friend whether you read their entries, whether they can read yours, or whatever is specific for that site). But that's more hassle for individual users.

Re:Yawn. (0)

Tom (822) | about 7 years ago | (#20292389)

It seems to be talking about a system where anyone can run their own server according to the open standard APIs, and hence will not be centralised.
I think that's called HTTP. :-)

Everyone can run their own server, or website (yes, even mum - there are enough myspace-like services where every idiot can create a webpage, and most do).

But people seem to want sharing the same space with each other, even if that space is virtual.

Re:Yawn. (2, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 7 years ago | (#20292519)

I think that's called HTTP. :-)

That would be a web server though. There are different types of server, e.g., email server, which need different protocols. Sometimes people come up with new protocols (e.g., OpenID).

Re:Yawn. (2, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about 7 years ago | (#20293549)

All the "social networking" sites I know are websites... :-)

Re:Yawn. (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 7 years ago | (#20294051)

No way man! I have this totally awesome new social network I built from the ground up in C#. You should download it and join my network of friends and we can all look at each other's profiles without some "perv" getting access to it. Wait... I don't really know you all that well. Maybe I'll put you on the list for revision 2 though!

Re:Yawn. (3, Interesting)

makomk (752139) | about 7 years ago | (#20292409)

Actually, it's more about having multiple centralised social networking providers doing different things, and how to keep friends in sync between them. (So you can use Livejournal for blogging, Facebook for keeping track of people you know from college, Twitter for micro-updates, some other site for photo sharing, etc, and it'll help keep your friends in sync between them.) It'll still encourage the growth of centralised social networking sites and still require people to get accounts on several different sites, it just makes it easier for them to do so. As commenters on Brad's journal have said, it's the equivalent of a multi-protocol IM client rather than Jabber.

He identifies the solution is out there... (4, Interesting)

alexhmit01 (104757) | about 7 years ago | (#20292777)

Facebook has made it possible for people to build the applications that people want and tie them into Facebook. A Web 2.0 site could accept log-ins, or allow Facebook users to simply add the application, adding them as users. Conceivably, Myspace will add a similar feature before going bust. The article's author gives a lot of non-sense about developers not wanting to be slaves to facebook, but they have it backwards.

I subscribe to Netflix. I added a Netflix app to Facebook, it let's my friend's see my queue... yawn... It also let's my Facebook friends, if they get Netflix, quickly add me as a Netflix friend (subject to my approval). The Netflix app mirrors some of Netflix's UI, but not everything. I still go to Netflix to manage Queue's and add movies, but I can see what's going on quickly on Facebook.

The problem is that most Web Developers suck. If your data store for your web-app is good, then you can EASILY create a Facebook front end. If your front-end has all your database calls (no stored procedures in the database, not even a DB functions file in Perl/PHP/whatever you coded in), then you see it as "be a Facebook App OR a website."

The promise of HAVi in the AV world was that we would connect our equipment via Firewire, and they would export a front-end in Java that our TV or Receiver would render for us. The data in MPEG-2 with fixed compression caused content producers to go ape-shit, but the idea is valid on the web.

If you want to process information, you need to collect it and do something with it. The days of a "single HTML interface" are now over. You need a mobile version, an iPhone version (possibly, we'll see adoption rates), and now a Facebook version.

I collect my photos in iPhoto on my Mac. I upload them to Facebook via an iPhoto plug-in to show my friends. I upload them to Shutterfly via an Export Plugin (well, did until they haven't supported iPhoto '08 yet), so my extended relatives can buy pictures.

I have other friends that are into photography, they use Flickr. However, there is a Flickr "interface" for Facebook, so their Flickr Albums are viewable on Facebook. Sure, if they have pictures that they want the Facebook features (tag a friend), they need to upload to Facebook, but if they want Flickr sharing (tags, etc.), they upload to Flickr and put it on the Flickr App on Facebook.

Open APIs will let US aggregate OUR data, not have one site steal it from others.

Re:Yawn. (1)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | about 7 years ago | (#20293249)

I was not understanding the qestion, but I am sure the answer is XML!

(If you are already using it, use more!)

Re:Yawn. (1)

iaculus (1032214) | about 7 years ago | (#20292811)

Although he's right that people are tired of readding friends on each network, one flaw is that "friend" has different meanings. On some, it's simply "This person is my friend". On some like Facebook, it also means they can see information about you that others might not. On LiveJournal however (which was created by the author of this article), it goes far beyond simply "friend"; it indicates which journals you want to read, and who can see your "friends only" entries. So conceivably, who I want as a friend on Facebook isn't necessarily the same as who I want as a "friend" on LJ.


Now theoretically this can be handled in that "people whose journals I want to read" could be a subset of anyone I list as my friend (i.e., you have an option for each friend whether you read their entries, whether they can read yours, or whatever is specific for that site). But that's more hassle for individual users.

From TFA [bradfitz.com] :

It's recognized that users don't always want to auto-sync their social networks. People use different sites in different ways, and a "friend" on one site has a very different meaning of a "friend" on another. The goal is to just provide sites and users the raw data, and they can use it to implement whatever policies they want.

Re:Yawn. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 7 years ago | (#20293023)

Even if everyone supports one standard, the bottom line here is that the data has to centralized somewhere in order to maintain data consistency. Facebook might think that "Bob" on LJ is "Alice's" friend while LJ might not agree. That would be highly confusing to the end-user. Without centralized data, there's no way to make this thing workable.

Re:Yawn. (2, Interesting)

bar-agent (698856) | about 7 years ago | (#20295247)

Even if everyone supports one standard, the bottom line here is that the data has to centralized somewhere in order to maintain data consistency.

Not necessarily, the data could be distributed, redundant, and synchronized.

Re:Yawn. (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 7 years ago | (#20297679)

Even if everyone supports one standard, the bottom line here is that the data has to centralized somewhere in order to maintain data consistency.

Presumably the point is that that "somewhere" doesn't have to be the same place for everyone.

I mean, it's like saying that email has to be centralised somewhere, because you still need to choose one single server for your email. But the point is we're not all dependent on a single company, you can choose which server to trust, and if you're that paranoid, you can run your own server.

Re:Yawn. (4, Interesting)

Red_Foreman (877991) | about 7 years ago | (#20292267)

I agree, a centralized API would make it far too easy for stalkers. But the article makes a flawed assumption - that people on Facebook want to be connected on MySpace and vice versa, and you (IMHO) can't make that assumption.

Re:Yawn. (2, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | about 7 years ago | (#20292593)

Good point. Some people will want to be connected to everything, and others including myself will only want their real info on one site (such as myspace) and everything else will be anonymous. I don't want 50,000 social networking sites to know my address, phone number, AIM screen name, my personal preferences, and what I look like. The ability to abuse all that info is too great.

Re:Yawn. (2, Insightful)

xappax (876447) | about 7 years ago | (#20294165)

I don't want 50,000 social networking sites to know my address...

Social networking is about voluntary information sharing. If you don't want the whole world to know your address and phone number, don't put those things on your MySpace page. If you do, it doesn't really matter which other social networking sites have that information, because it's already public on the internet.

This isn't about scraping and publicizing information that you want to keep private, it's about giving you the freedom to synchronize the information you do want to share between multiple sites.

You already have the ability on most social networking sites to control privacy - making some information public and other bits private, and there's no reason that meta-network tools wouldn't allow you the same control. In fact, they could give you finer control. Perhaps you could restrict a particular journal post to only your friends on Flickr and Facebook, or only show your contact information to people who are your friends on 3 or more networks...

The point is that these are tools to give you more control over your information, not less, so try to not freak out about privacy.

Re:Yawn. (1)

d0rp (888607) | about 7 years ago | (#20296645)

Good point. Some people will want to be connected to everything, and others including myself will only want their real info on one site (such as myspace) and everything else will be anonymous. I don't want 50,000 social networking sites to know my address, phone number, AIM screen name, my personal preferences, and what I look like. The ability to abuse all that info is too great.
But TFA is talking about making the relationship connections standardized and shared between all social networking sites, not address, phone number, AIM screen name or anything beyond "I know this person". Any additional information (i.e. your personal information, or even things like how you know that person) would be specific to the individual site and layered on top.

The idea is if you had a MySpace profile and ad 50 friends on there, and then you joined Facebook, it would automatically list those 50 people on your Facebook as well, without you (or your "friend") having to do anything. Of course then you would still have to set up things like "I went to college with this person" or whatever, but you wouldn't have to try and find all of your friends on whatever new site you decided to join.

Re:Yawn. (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | about 7 years ago | (#20296149)

a centralized API would make it far too easy for stalkers
Red, you know you're drooling at the thought... and it's ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS!!!!!!!1111oneoneoneone111!!!!OMG!

Re:Yawn. (1)

SmellyBumInLaJolla (1107285) | about 7 years ago | (#20296359)

I thought you wrote in your Journal that you weren't going to reduce yourself to a lame copy/paste job. Oh, right, you lied, just like you lie about being homeless.

But that's OK, I forgive you. I know it's probably very hard for you to repress your obvious sexual desire for me. But, unfortunately for you, I'm not a homosexual with homeless fantasies [slashdot.org] like you are, and while I don't mind your sexual preference, I love the ladies.

So you're just going to have to pretend that it's me the next time your boyfriend bends you over the kitchen table.

When the two day old mail is digging into your stomach as your boyfriend pounds away, just imagine my voice - "dumbass". You'll probably have the hardest climax in your life.

Re:Yawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20296953)

Tip of my hat to you, SmellyBum.

HomelessInLaJolla has been pwned, and pwned hard.

It figures that he's a queer, most of the homophobic hate spewers like him secretly are.

Re:Yawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20296871)

HILJ... you're ABSOLUTELY RETARDED!!!!!!!11111onehundredandeleven11!zOMGWTFB BQ1!

Re:Yawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20297613)

How ironic, you're accussing him of stalking yet you're obviously tailing his every post.

Re:Yawn. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20297703)

Yeah, HomelessInLaJolla, stop crowding Red, keeping him away from potentially useful people.

Re:Yawn. (2, Insightful)

BoberFett (127537) | about 7 years ago | (#20292271)

You can have cross-compatibility without decentralization. In fact decentralization is easier when you don't have vendor lock-in, which is essentially what we have now. A bunch of disparate sites all with different abilities, but no system to easily move from one to another and link any of the data from one to the other.

Re:Yawn. (1)

ewise (216213) | about 7 years ago | (#20292375)

From the article:

"The world won't switch en masse to anybody's "social networking interop protocol", pet XML format, etc. It simply won't happen. This must all work supporting any and all ways of data collection, change notification, etc. "

"Ultimately make the social graph a community asset, utilizing the data from all the different sites, but not depending on any company or organization as "the" central graph owner."

You did _read_ the article, right?

Re:Yawn. (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 7 years ago | (#20292379)

Tbe best way to describe it is

Random Leaf Node: Hey! Root node! I think you should make all your data public!
Root node: ...

Centralized user management? (1)

6Yankee (597075) | about 7 years ago | (#20296815)

Say what you will, but it's one hell of an acronym!

I know where I fit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20292145)

I'm an Alpha male.

        And girls want to fuck alpha males. Let it piss you off as much as you want, but you know it's completely true. That girl you like who is kinda cute in a weird way, but is totally sweet and you have the biggest crush on? The one who keeps going back to guys who treat her wrong for reasons you don't understand? The one who calls you up at 1 am to cry about how her boyfriend hasn't called her in 3 days, and no matter how long you listen to her, she'll never think of you as anything other than asexual? The one who will curl up next to you on the couch, hug you close, kiss you on the cheek, and never let you fucking touch her beyond that?

        Yeah, I'm fucking her.

        The hot girl who won't even look at you when you nod at them and smile? The one who laughs when you trip in the hallway and drop your stuff? The one who comes up and coyly asks for your help with her homework, and then pretends you don't exist once you finish?

        Yeah, I'm fucking her too, even harder.

Re:I know where I fit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20292225)

Yeah. That's okay. Because I'm fucking your mother and both your sisters, bitch. Oh, and that aching feeling in your asshole? Yup. I'm anally raping you in the middle of the night, cunt.

Re:I know where I fit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20292253)

now now children... settle down. social networking means being nice to people and learning to share.

Re:I know where I fit (1)

Moderatbastard (808662) | about 7 years ago | (#20293311)

Looks like someone just invented antisocial networking.

Re:I know where I fit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20293747)

>I'm anally raping you in the middle of the night, cunt.

While I admire your command of invective, I have to say that your anatomical knowledge is a little lacking.

IP (2, Interesting)

PresidentEnder (849024) | about 7 years ago | (#20292187)

So if I write a little app that I point at my friends page on Facebook or you point at yours on Myspace, which then steals our friends lists and adds them to this wide open free social graph, do Myspace and Facebook have a right to be mad at me?

Re:IP (2, Interesting)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 7 years ago | (#20292279)

Whilst IP laws can cover "collections of data", it's hard to see it enforceable in this sense. I mean, by the same logic, would they be mad if I recreated the same friends list manually on a different site? Of course not - it's not unreasonable that my friends are still going to be my friends on a different site. I don't see using an automated tool changes that.

Is it an IP infringement if I list my phone number, email and address on one site, then put it on another site too? Of course not. No matter what their TOS might say, I think it'd be hard to argue they own the IP of your personal information, and you don't.

Re:IP (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20292309)

MySpace, and Facebook are a complete utter waste of valueable internet bandwidth. Here's a socal network for: Public square! 'Oh, but we have to be global...' Then go on vacation to Paris and enjoy a conversation in one of their public squares, hey, you can even go to China and do the same thing... just don't demand any human rights or political reform, those subjects are banned. :) -Cheerio

So you want to change the Internet... (5, Insightful)

Tucan (60206) | about 7 years ago | (#20292219)

How about an RFC instead of a web page?

communism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20292239)

The article tries to imply that a mandated central authority should control all relationship data using the paper-thin excuse that it saves repetition.

I suppose if identity cards advocates jumped on the "open" bandwagon, then their brand of Marxist/Stalinist state-control fascism would be "progressive" too.

Re:communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20292331)

I agree

Re:communism (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#20292403)

Marxist/Stalinist state-control fascism
FFS!

What you're looking for is "authoritarian" or "totalitarian" if they have a guiding dogma.

 

Re:communism (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | about 7 years ago | (#20293763)

if they have a guiding dogma.
Like the US Constitution?

Re:communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20292443)

The socialist Internet revolution!

Security Issues (1)

giafly (926567) | about 7 years ago | (#20292247)

A [spammer will] then be able to log into a social application (e.g. dopplr.com) for the first time, ideally but not necessarily with OpenID, and be presented with a dialog like,

"Hey, we see from public information elsewhere that [user] already has 28 friends already using dopplr, shown below with rationale about why we're recommending them (what usernames they are on other sites). Which do you want to be friends with here? Or click '[spam-them-all]'."
This is also why there are more big sites where you can register OpenID accounts, compared to big sites that trust OpenID accounts registered elsewhere.

Re:Security Issues (4, Interesting)

kebes (861706) | about 7 years ago | (#20292399)

TFA only briefly mentions the possible downsides of aggregating all of the social networking sites. It says:

It's recognized that users don't always want to auto-sync their social networks. People use different sites in different ways, and a "friend" on one site has a very different meaning of a "friend" on another.
My reaction is much harsher than this. I don't merely want the option of syncing/not-syncing... I would want (ideally) complete control over how widely distributed my "friend-connections" become. Frankly I hate having to maintain all kinds of separate username/password/accounts on different sites. But, I would hate even more if all those different accounts were automatically identified with each other.

The people I communicate with on Facebook are not the people I interact with on Linux forums or on Slashdot. The meaning of a "friend" (or whatever) on each site is totally different. Not only do I not want these connections treated identically... I don't want those separate accounts to be related to one another!

Frankly the downsides to having my online social activity interconnected are numerous: spamming, ease of monitoring me, etc. The end result is that I will either reveal personal information I didn't intend to, or conversely I will use the sites less freely because I'll be worried about revealing information (e.g. if I know potential employers will easily find the information).

Considering the numerous downsides, I have trouble seeing the benefit, to the end-user, of having a comprehensive, widely-accessible 'social graph.'

Re:Security Issues (1)

Sique (173459) | about 7 years ago | (#20296479)

You could achieve that with declaring some of your identities to be the same, and others not. And if only the respective owner of an ID can declare an ID to be identical to another ID, you might have a good control about the spread of your "friendships". You could even have private declarations of identity, which are just here for you to keep track of several IDs of the same person you know, and which are held privately with your own account and don't spread elsewhere.

Re:Security Issues (1)

MatB (845512) | about 7 years ago | (#20297813)

I would want (ideally) complete control over how widely distributed my "friend-connections" become

Given that Livejournal has allowed micromanagement of that wort of information for as long as it's been around, and that was always something Brad saw as a strength, I suspect that'll be covered within the project.

You don't see an advantage to an end-user; I do, specifically, I had no idea Brad was working on this, but have been talking about something very similar in a variety of places already; distributed, decentralised networking, no one location controlling everything, open protocols, user control.

Virtually all of my online IDs are in my name, and I'm always careful about what I reveal where and to whom--I can say more in a filtered, friends locked post on Livejournal than I ever will on Facebook or on one of my topic specific blogs. They all interlink, but I can micro-manage the privacy levels.

That's a good thing. I really like this project, and think it, or a successor, is definitely the model to follow.

To which I respond... (2, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | about 7 years ago | (#20292275)

...who cares?

Use a social netowrking site, don't use one. Use MySpace, Facebook, or don't. Is this really a problem? No. Is it bothering anyone else? No. Is this news? No. Nothing to see here -- move along.

anti-human (2, Interesting)

m0llusk (789903) | about 7 years ago | (#20292291)

People change their social networks all the time. With this in place, you wouldn't be able to just "wash that man out of your hair", but you would have to go online, identify yourself, proceed with authentication, and then click around to make the changes. In addition to big changes in social networks being laborious to enter, their implications grow as well. What about the folks who relied on your network to reach others? Will they give you negative feedback for moving on? This idea seems to be based on a hackneyed understanding of how human relationships grow, evolve, and sometimes just fall away in large numbers. Very young or socially challenged people seem like the only potential customers.

To really try to solve this problem the representation of relationships would have to be automatically generated, and that gets creepy really fast since it would mean having computer applications track all significant interactions with others.

Re:anti-human (1)

bkr1_2k (237627) | about 7 years ago | (#20294147)

Just out of curiousity, how would haveing to "go online, identify yourself, proceed with authentication, and then click around to make the changes" be any different than how it is currently done?

Also, why should anyone be responsible for other people relying on them to contact others? Seriously that shouldn't be my responsibility. If someone is using my friend's list (on whatever site) to reach people, great, but that doesn't obligate me to not change my friends list. It never has and never will. People "cull" their friends lists all the time. Yes they generally provide some warning, but not always. Again, your suggestion wouldn't make anything different than it currently is.

I'm not even sure what you're suggesting with automatically generated representations of relationships.

And we want this *why*? (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 7 years ago | (#20292301)

What I mean by "social graph" is a the global mapping of everybody and how they're related

Just that? Why, sure, I'll gladly make enough info public on myself and my friends to make identity theft nearly trivial. And hey, as a perk, if I ever find myself on the run from the police (for example, after someone steals my identity and gets me flagged as a major contributor to Al Qaida), they'll have a convenient list of everyone I might contact. Golly, what not to love about that?



People are getting sick of registering and re-declaring their friends on every site

Why, exactly, does "every site" need to know my friends? For that matter, why should any sites know my friends? And I don't mean in the Slashdot Friends/Foe sense - I have plenty of both, solely for the purpose of moderation. Of over 100 people on my lists here, I only actually know three of them, and one of those I've never even met.

If a site actually needs to know my friends/family/coworkers, you can safely bet on my not wanting to use that site.

For the record, I get sick of registering at websites not because it takes too long to come up with fake info, but because for the majority of them, I shouldn't need to create a personalized account in the first place! If I find something through Google, I don't want a lasting relationship with a site, I just want my damned content. If I buy something as a one-off purchase, I don't want an account, I just want the transaction completed and all my info expunged from the site. Unless I specifically ask a website to give me a persistant profile, don't force one on me - it only wastes time, and I won't rememeber what fake info I put in next time anyway (hell, I must have over fifty logins at the NYT).



This sounds like yet another one of those non-issues that give marketing gurus wet dreams and serve no purpose beyond stripping us of any semblance of privacy and anonymity. Brad can keep his thoughts, I want no part of it.

Re:And we want this *why*? (2, Funny)

FiveLights (1012605) | about 7 years ago | (#20292327)

Does this mean you won't be my myspace friend?

Re:And we want this *why*? (3, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 7 years ago | (#20292415)

Why, exactly, does "every site" need to know my friends? For that matter, why should any sites know my friends? And I don't mean in the Slashdot Friends/Foe sense - I have plenty of both, solely for the purpose of moderation.

Actually, this is the sense that is meant. Usually sites, just like Slashdot, use "Friend" to imply some specific feature, whether it's who you want to see certain personal data, or whose journals or comments you want to read. It's unfortunate that the word "friend" has been overloaded, but Slashdot is just as guilty of this.

Given that LiveJournal - created by the author of this essay - uses "friend" to mean something specific, I imagine the author is talking about "friend" in this sense, whether or not they really are your friends. Though the flaw I think (as I said in another comment) is that since different sites use "friend" differently, who you want as friends on one site may not be the same as who you want as a friend on another.

For the record, I get sick of registering at websites not because it takes too long to come up with fake info, but because for the majority of them, I shouldn't need to create a personalized account in the first place!

Agreed, and OpenID is one way round this (which was created by Brad, as it happens). This just goes one step further, for those sites (like LiveJournal, Facebook - or Slashdot) where you do want to enter this extra information.

Re:And we want this *why*? (4, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#20292437)

For that matter, why should any sites know my friends?
So... The whole concept of social networking has bypassed you entirely?

You truly are Slashdot material. Welcome my brother.

 

Re:And we want this *why*? (3, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 7 years ago | (#20292819)

So... The whole concept of social networking has bypassed you entirely?

If you mean that I can't call myself one of the 1.4 million "friends" of the latest boy band - Yes, it has. I simply do not see the point of Myspace or Facebook other than as a free-as-in-beer webhost (with the hidden expense of having all your "friends" receive slightly better-targetted advertising).

If, however, you mean a real social network - I limit mine to people I actually know, people that (with very few exceptions) I have physically met. Friends and acquantances whose real names and at least partial contact info I know, whose birthday I might celebrate with them, whose voice I would recognize on the phone or whose face I would recognize in a crowd.



Call me a Luddite, but it disturbs me greatly to think that we have diluted the term "friend" to nothing more than a form of moderation roughly translating as something between fandom and "I like something about your web page".

Re:And we want this *why*? (2, Interesting)

ryanvm (247662) | about 7 years ago | (#20293761)

Call me a Luddite, but it disturbs me greatly to think that we have diluted the term "friend" to nothing more than a form of moderation roughly translating as something between fandom and "I like something about your web page".

Hmmm - what scrumptious irony it is that I have added you to my Slashdot friends list because I completely agree with your post.

Dumbing down of society (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20294665)

"Call me a Luddite, but it disturbs me greatly to think that we have diluted the term "friend" to nothing more than a form of moderation roughly translating as something between fandom and "I like something about your web page"."

I'm no luddite (Masters in CS) and I don't get how this is so "important" and "revolutionary"; seems like one big illusion/delusion with a bunch of hyperbole to me. Yes, sign me up for the big targeted advertising machine!

Seems like it is an overall pattern of dumbing down of society, knowledge, relationships, etc.

We've seen these paradoxes before.

The internet was supposed to free information, make it available to all, empower the little man yet it seems we are dumber than ever, (for example when we believe facts are mutable and the hell with "experts" - wikipedia).

We used to have to sit and think when composing a letter, e-mail took that away. Now, IM says if you can't say it in one sentence and with horrible made up word contractions and mangling of english, it is not worth saying at all. Next, we have "twitter", an even worse idea -- uncontrolled inane thoughts passed off as real communication.

It's also a paradox that a site geared towards making "connecting" people easier results in the superficials of "add me to your friends list, I don't have time to forge a real connection with you".

Re:Dumbing down of society (1)

Adambomb (118938) | about 7 years ago | (#20298001)

seems like one big illusion/delusion with a bunch of hyperbole to me. Yes, sign me up for the big targeted advertising machine!
Ding Ding Ding!
Thanks for coming out folks, but we have a winner!

The insecure who require their new high score to stroke their egos, well they can sign up all they wish. Just think, if all the marketers think they're the targets, we should get left alone.... ...right?

Re:And we want this *why*? (1)

Wordplay (54438) | about 7 years ago | (#20294853)

It's a dilution of the term, but not the actual role. What's really happened is that the "acquaintance" role has gotten a huge boost, first by IM programs, and then by social networking sites. It used to be that the only people that would stay on one's radar were actual friends and people you actively ran into on a regular basis. Now it's entirely reasonable to indefinitely keep an active contact list of acquaintances and friends who are fading to the acquaintance level.

It seems reasonable that this would have some sort of actual social effect. However, given how infrequently I talk to the acquaintances on my buddy lists, I'm not sure how significant of an effect it really is.

Re:And we want this *why*? (1)

microbito (172630) | about 7 years ago | (#20297303)

If, however, you mean a real social network - I limit mine to people I actually know, people that (with very few exceptions) I have physically met. Friends and acquaintances whose real names and at least partial contact info I know, whose birthday I might celebrate with them, whose voice I would recognize on the phone or whose face I would recognize in a crowd.

uhhm... that is exactly the point of say... Facebook. That whole "adding whatever pronstar promoting herself this month as a friend" thing ppl do on MySpace, is not as common there. Most use facebook precisely to keep in touch with the kinds of friend you just described. Whoever says now a day that they won't be using one of these "social network" type site sounds as big a luddite as someone saying 10 years ago they won't be using email to communicate with their friends cause they already have a telephone and whats better to communicate than hearing someones voice? bokay?

Re:And we want this *why*? (4, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | about 7 years ago | (#20292597)

Just that? Why, sure, I'll gladly make enough info public on myself and my friends to make identity theft nearly trivial.
Quite right. And it goes even deeper than that.

I know how to use the web in such a web that I'm "sufficiently anonymous." I know true anonymity is impossible (e.g. with an IP address and a subpoena), but I know how to restrict the information I give out to a level I am comfortable with, and totally out of my control.

One problem with ubiquitously-connected social networking is that I not only have to be careful what I reveal, but I am now very much dependent on what my "friends" decide to reveal about me. If they go mentioning personal information about me, and it's cross-connected through every social networking site I visit, then this represents a release of information beyond what I'm comfortable with.

Obviously this problem already exists (and currently results in, e.g., people wasting time un-tagging themselves from Facebook photos)... but a widely connected and widely available social graph exacerbates the problem. Suddenly I'm dependent upon the net savvy of every single person who is connected to me? (And, given the whole "six degrees" issue, that's a lot of not-so-savvy people.) No thanks.

The end result of more detailed, more available, social information is merely that those of us aware of the privacy implications will stop using social networking sites. Is that really the intent here?

Re:And we want this *why*? (1)

caluml (551744) | about 7 years ago | (#20293065)

I know true anonymity is impossible Or is it...? [anonet.org] .

Re:And we want this *why*? (1)

Foolicious (895952) | about 7 years ago | (#20295219)

And hey, as a perk, if I ever find myself on the run from the police (for example, after someone steals my identity and gets me flagged as a major contributor to Al Qaida)[...]

If this happens to you, I'd suggest definitely not running away and hiding.

Re:And we want this *why*? (1)

rm999 (775449) | about 7 years ago | (#20296473)

In all fairness, it sounds like you aren't the target demographic of facebook/myspace. These sites target young people (under 30) who don't consider their relationships a secret (think dense settings like college campuses, where 100s of people know your network). For these types of users, finding their friends on a site is about as annoying and time consuming as losing a cell-phone and having to replace the numbers.

While you may find these sites to be intrusive and useless, clearly millions of people disagree. And in defense of social networks sites, they have been very useful for me. I don't miss my friends' birthdays nearly as often. It allows me to get in touch with people I normally would lose contact with (especially after college when my friends scattered around the world). This truly has been invaluable.

The only reason why I disagree with this article is that I think being a member of multiple social networks sites is useless. I see no point in being a member of more than one, and I chose facebook.

All you need to know on the subject is: (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 7 years ago | (#20292329)

Facebook - grownups
MySpace - Kids/teens
Anything else - non starter.

Re:All you need to know on the subject is: (1)

jim_redwagon (845837) | about 7 years ago | (#20292383)

exactly, why would anyone even WANT to join myspace? for it's fast loading time? for the horrible user layouts and really bad 'hello' graphics? or am i missing something?

Re:All you need to know on the subject is: (2, Informative)

aftk2 (556992) | about 7 years ago | (#20292555)

Ummm... Linkedin? It's been pretty important for a number of people I know..

Re:All you need to know on the subject is: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20292609)

You forgot:

LiveJournal - pedos

Re:All you need to know on the subject is: (1)

Tribbin (565963) | about 7 years ago | (#20292759)

Here in Holland, hyves.nl is much bigger than the two you named. And before it got big cu2.nl was ruling. I suppose many other countries have similar sites.

I, for myself, would like to have the possibility to merge my social webs.

Re:All you need to know on the subject is: (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | about 7 years ago | (#20293261)

Own custom web site that you encode yourself: the way it should really be.

Re:All you need to know on the subject is: (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 7 years ago | (#20295169)

There is also Linkedin but the I have to wonder when these "Social networking" sites time will be past.
Just how different are they from all the "personal" webpages that people used to put up on the web? These social networking sites seem to be trying to become a sub-set of the internet or recreated Compuserve/Delphi/Bix/.

Personal webpages? Every ISP used to give you a little web space for that.
Groups? Usenet and or web based forums.
Chat? IRC, ICQ, AIM, Jabber.
Friends list? Guest books on your personal website and or links to your friends pages.

Don't forget (1)

acb (2797) | about 7 years ago | (#20297609)

Don't forget the task-specific sites; Flickr/Zooomr/Ipernity for photos, last.fm for networking by musical taste, LiveJournal and Vox for keeping a journal (including private/semi-private entries), Twitter for fine-grained status, and so on. Flickr and its ilk do a better job with photos than general-purpose sites, LJ/Vox do a better job for publishing medium-sized journal entries, and pretty much anything else will do a better job of more or less anything than MySpace, whose capabilities tend to be somewhat half-baked.

A decade ago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20292333)

Somebody obviously doesn't remember what the web was like a decade ago. This whole "social networking" buzzword had not been invented yet and things still made sense for the most part.

Why would I want to use crappy websites to register who my friends are and why it is a problem that not all these sites use the same data I don't get at all. O___o

Re:A decade ago? (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 7 years ago | (#20292477)

"Half a decade ago".

Re:A decade ago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20293047)

That's what happens when I don't get enough sleep :(

NSFW! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20292341)

Maybe it's just my rotten porn-addled mind, but I think the picture at the top of the article is Not Safe For Work.

Security/MS Passport (1)

Krondor (306666) | about 7 years ago | (#20292355)

While it would be convenient to have the social networking sites auto-populate their relation ships based on your previously entered data from other sites abuse of this system make me very nervous. Particularly, the use of OpenID. I believe this was the intent of Microsoft Passport (centralized login to all other websites), but I would hardly trust my ONE internet password to Microsoft.

Saying that it does seem better if the entity you entrust this information to (not just password but friend relationships, behavior, preferences, who knows what else) is a non-profit, maybe non-evil, maybe open source, etc... Still what if they aren't as innocuous as they seem, what if they suffer a security breach? Even with a centralized login system as an aside, think about the possibilities for identity theft and social engineering. If someone can reconstruct your behavior, friends, family, location... how hard is it really to become you?

I think a better system may be for a user to establish those per-site IDs then use a common API to link them to each other. The user specifies I'm John-Crazy-Guy on Facebook and my MySpace ID is John123-Crazy-Guy please sync with each other. Of course I'm not sure how MySpace/Facebook would correlate the relationship of your friends to their other social networking IDs. That would probably have to be dependent on if they have established that relationship as well. It still leaves something open to security breaches, but at least it is;

a. Distributed so each breach wouldn't be as large of a compromise.
b. Does not include credentials.
c. Is dependent on who in your contacts has also done their part of the sync.
d. Could be a common RFC for data sharing between sites.
e. Probably scales better without dependency on a central authority.

Re:Security/MS Passport (2, Interesting)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 7 years ago | (#20292447)

Particularly, the use of OpenID. I believe this was the intent of Microsoft Passport (centralized login to all other websites), but I would hardly trust my ONE internet password to Microsoft.

OpenID is decentralised. Being open or a standard doesn't imply centralised (think email - you can email people on other servers, without needing some centralised trustable email server).

What about XFN (XHTML Friends Network)? (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | about 7 years ago | (#20292367)

What about XFN (XHTML Friends Network) [xhtmlfriends.net] ?

It already exists - FOAF (2, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#20292371)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOAF_(software) [wikipedia.org]

Vendor lockin is the reason it isn't simple to migrate across all the sites.

 

Re:It already exists - FOAF (1)

usrusr (654450) | about 7 years ago | (#20292579)

i'm just wondering how foaf can still not be in the "tagging beta" thing of this "exciting news item"...

Non-geek usage (1)

dk.r*nger (460754) | about 7 years ago | (#20292395)

He keeps claiming that a "simple" XML protocol, Atom-like, won't work, because he want's non-geek usage, but I don't understand what kind of non-geek usage he expects.

Non-geeks are not going to be developing new applications and mashups, they'll be using it. Moveable Type pioneered a blogging API, that turned out to be a nice defacto standard, that most other blogging engines support. Result is that thousands of non-geeks can now blog from outside their blogging-silo.

I imagine a simple REST/XML webservice protocol, so a service can query my Facebook and my LinkedIn in the same way, and then work with that. Both sites (Facebook and LinkedIn) allow you to enter your ID in other contexts (IMs, email, websites) and that should be returned for you and your friends. If would even make sense for social sites to allow you to enter your ID on other social sites (my Myspace and LinkedIn on my Facebook, and vice verse) in order to better correlate the data.

He claims that Facebook is positive to the idea - having them onboard would be a huge boost to such a protocol.

what i don't understand about slashdot (1, Flamebait)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 7 years ago | (#20292425)

is you have the same crowd who often pillories things like a us national id and microsoft's passport, but are quick and happy to embrace an open login system like this, and bemoan things like IM systems that don't talk to each other

huh?

universal id is universal id folks. it's the same thing

someone might point out that one is open and free, and the other is under the control of a central authority. what are you smoking?

you don't get it: any kind of universal id is open to the same kinds of abuses you could appreciate if it were microsoft or george bush behind the plan. it's the same tension between convenience and privacy/security, regardless of the entity behind the universal id

the slashdot crowd seems to be schizophrenic on the concept of universal id. work it out philosophically, figure it out, and adopt an intellectually consistent point of view

Re:what i don't understand about slashdot (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#20292469)

universal id is universal id folks. it's the same thing
You don't think Colin Smith is my real name now do you? No, in real life I am "The Burning Light from Zorg".

 

Re:what i don't understand about slashdot (1)

l4m3z0r (799504) | about 7 years ago | (#20292497)

Its all about consistency, you drop the magic words(open/free/technology/internet) and /.ers come running like moths to the flame. You say the forbidden words(parents, government, security) and we rattle our sabers from our bedrooms while yelling "Mom would it kill you to make me a sandwich!!".

Re:what i don't understand about slashdot (1)

robably (1044462) | about 7 years ago | (#20292685)

is you have the same crowd who often pillories things like a us national id and microsoft's passport, but are quick and happy to embrace an open login system like this, and bemoan things like IM systems that don't talk to each other
There isn't one comment here saying this is a good thing - who exactly are you mad at?

Re:what i don't understand about slashdot (2, Insightful)

Baavgai (598847) | about 7 years ago | (#20293565)

Good point. However, the pro single sign on, anti universal tracking is not entirely incongruous. It's really a question of control and information revealed.

The vilified universal ID is assumed to be attached to all personal information and controlled by an entity with no particular vested interest in that person's well being. Big Brother bells sound and people start thinking of how to get off the grid.

A single sign on is a little different. It doesn't implicitly involved any information that the individual is unwilling to give up. Sure, anyone could find out all about the activity of a single Internet authority, but, depending on the system, the real person behind the identity is still functionally anonymous. If that ID becomes the focus of harassment, the shielded individual can drop it and move on.

As an individual, I don't like having all my personal information unified for the powers that be to scrutinize. As a tech geek, I'd appreciate using one username and password for all my surfing needs. I don't see this as quite the same thing.

Re:what i don't understand about slashdot (1)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | about 7 years ago | (#20294411)

you don't get it: any kind of universal id is open to the same kinds of abuses you could appreciate if it were microsoft or george bush behind the plan. it's the same tension between convenience and privacy/security, regardless of the entity behind the universal id

Big difference number 1: I can see social relationships on myspace. I cannot see the relationships I have to "terrorists" in some government database. Therefore I have much more freedom and knowledge using an open social network.

Big difference number 2: All the watchers will (theoretically) be in the same open database as everyone else. If police officer X arrests A, B, and C and the social network shows that X's old girlfriend has dated A, B, and C, that's much more useful information than the secret government information that A, B, and C joke about terrorism and George Bush on slashdot.

Basically, fully open systems that include everyone allow much more freedom than closed lists run by the executive branch.

Re:what i don't understand about slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20296729)

Being able to unify your identity is very different from being forced to.

Not going to happen (4, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | about 7 years ago | (#20292433)

"Dear commercial websites, could you please implement a system that will render yourself and your profit models irrelevant?"

It's my understanding that a crack team of programmers has been assigned to this problem. That team includes Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Great Pumpkin. Good luck and godspeed.

What's the problem again? (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 7 years ago | (#20292455)

"Unfortunately, there doesn't exist a single social graph (or even multiple which interoperate) that's comprehensive and decentralized. Rather, there exists hundreds of disperse social graphs, most of dubious quality and many of them walled gardens"

And why is that such a problem? I'm quite happy with that state of things in the "social graph" arena.

"People are getting sick of registering and re-declaring their friends on every site"

1) Really? Some people (esp teens?) seem very happy to have new opportunities to redeclare their friends. Or erm start a new "friend collection".
2) Do they actually do that? Who's forcing them to anyway?

!fair (1)

trybywrench (584843) | about 7 years ago | (#20292471)

From his 1st goal "Ultimately make the social graph a community asset, utilizing the data from all the different sites,..."

So he wants like some sort of library of users that a site can tap into on launch? Why should a popular site hand over its hard won users to the new kid on the block? Doesn't seem all that fair to me. If your social site or application is cool enough the Internet will beat a path to your NIC. If the users don't show then build a better site/app.

Relax, it's just Trillian for Social Networks (2, Insightful)

prestidigital (341064) | about 7 years ago | (#20292511)

If you happen to use multiple services then you will see the utility in bringing them all together in one place. If you don't happen to use these services then don't worry about it.

Re:Relax, it's just Trillian for Social Networks (1)

trybywrench (584843) | about 7 years ago | (#20292577)

a trillian-like app makes much more sense and is a lot more feasible then trying to maintain some giant user repository.

Mugshut (3, Interesting)

bjourne (1034822) | about 7 years ago | (#20292517)

Mugshot [mugshot.org] seem to be what he's looking for. It is an open, free software, community, meta site. It tries to create a interconnect all different community sites and place them under one roof so to say. With one centralized user management system. Seems like a very, very ambitious project because it is damn hard to anticipate human behaviour and social patterns. In the broad sense, an internet community is everything from mailing lists to MySpace to Slashdot to various forums and even BitTorrent trackers.

Re:Mugshut (1)

zrq (794138) | about 7 years ago | (#20293399)

Mugshot looks very very interesting, not so much because of what it provides, but because of who is behind it ....
From the Mugshot FAQ page : http://mugshot.org/faq/ [mugshot.org]

14. How does Mugshot relate to Red Hat?
Two of Red Hat's core values are collaboration and freedom. Mugshot is an experiment in applying Red Hat's philosophy of collaboration and freedom to new types of content, beyond software and source code.
and

15. How does Mugshot benefit Red Hat?
Technology developed in the Mugshot project may be incorporated into current and future Red Hat products and services. For example, Red Hat may incorporate live social experiences into Red Hat's client products, or offer commercial services around future versions of the Mugshot software.
There are not yet any formal plans to incorporate Mugshot into the Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Fedora Core distributions.

.... which means RedHat gets lots and lots of useful data about who talks to who, how often, and what tools they use.

Conclusion? (2, Interesting)

Tribbin (565963) | about 7 years ago | (#20292837)

I always skip to the conclusion before I optionally read the whole article.

quote:

Conclusion:

I'm excited about this. Start thinking about how you can take advantage of stuff like this. It's going to be cool.


How 's that for a conclusion?

Friend-of-a-Friend anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20293375)

Integrating data from a large number of sites is the vision of W3C's Semantic Web activity.

A lot of the issues discussed in the document have been solved already. For example a standard data format (RDF), fusing identifiers (OWL's inverseFunctionalProperty mechanis), API issues (SPARQL).

The FOAF project http://www.foaf-project.org/ [foaf-project.org] tries to address the problem of personal data exchange for a few years now.

So why invent a new set of standards and not re-use the standards that are already there?

wow (1)

recharged95 (782975) | about 7 years ago | (#20293725)

Old news, AOL has been trying to do this since 1997. And looking at it, it appears to have failed as a social network, but successful at creating a Jerry Springer, ad-infested environment for the corporations to feed on.

didn't microsoft try single login (1)

dbmasters (796248) | about 7 years ago | (#20293777)

wasn't it called "Passport" or something like that and people hated it and did their typical "MS wants to control the world" dance...so, now somebody else comes up with the idea and it's a good one? Unless my memory is failing...

Ownership is how you make money (1)

rhinokitty (962485) | about 7 years ago | (#20295339)

Facebook and myspace won't want to implement openID because it would ruin their business model. The only reason people use a specific social networking site is because their friends are on it (ok, not the ONLY reason).

If you "give away" the exclusivity of "owning" that user's data, and controlling access to the data, you will have to think of a different way to make money because there is no leverage to keep a user at that site, when they can just go to another.

I don't use social networking sites (unless you count slashdot) for that very reason, I don't want someone changing the rules some time down the road and suddenly I find that I am having to wade through popups and interstitial ads to get to my friends messages.

Just kidding, I don't have any friends.
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