My vision for Open Social Networks

Imagine a time when social networks are not merely data silos anymore for the purpose of showing the right ads to people.

Imagine a time when social networks will be all over and every website will in fact be part of the big social network we call the internet.

Imagine a time when we will be able to define our contacts globally and could group them together to groups like „close friends“, „business contacts“ and so on.

Imagine a time when we will be able to define certain permissions to these groups, like „can see me on website X“ or „can see my familiy photos/videos“.

Wouldn’t it be great if I go to some website, set the privacy level and then be able to see which of my friends have visited it and what content they might have left there? I could comment there, upload my own content as response and they get notified immediately using standard messaging mechanisms.

And wouldn’t it be great if we always know where our content is and could search through our own content network regardless where it is stored?

Wouldn’t it also be great if I’d only have one login with different profiles attached from which I could choose from when entering some social application?

In such a time every website would again be part of the big social network and maybe better be called a social application. Each social application could concentrate on some core capability, like e.g. handling photos, give me video editing capabílities and so on.

And this big social network would simply be The Internet.

All this is actually not too far off. We have many standards already (Microformats, OpenID, OAuth, FOAF) and maybe it’s just a little step to weave them all together to solve all these problems. In fact there are already some projects/groups thinking about these problems. be it DiSo or DataPortability.

Of course there are problems on the road like established business models and politics but if big players move forward and embrace such things (because they also create new opportunities) then there is a chance. And if it’s build on open standards and the tools are provided on an open source basis it would even be quite easy to implement it.

In one of my next posts I might try to get into use cases and see what makes sense. After that one might think about how to implement these use cases effectively.

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