Up in San Francisco for another open spec community gathering, this one focused on working toward standardization of “activity streams,” the flow of user-generated content which is the lifeblood of the emerging Social Web. This Activity Streams Meetup is being hosted at Six Apart, with David Recordon guiding the event. As Plaxo’s Joseph Smarr tweeted, we hope this all leads to “more structured metadata in feeds”.
As usual, I’ll sprinkle in a mix of photos and observations, but not attempt to take anything approaching full notes. In addition to Six Apart, there are folks here or from Facebook, MySpace, Google, Yahoo, Plaxo, among others. That means there’s representation for projects that span DiSo, OpenSocial, Open Stack, Facebook Connect, Y!OS, MySpaceID, among others. Sweet!
Microsoft’s Dare Obasanjo has a nice post describing the problem we need to solve, entitled, Representing Rich Media and Social Network Activities in RSS/Atom Feeds. Also recommend this post from Chris Messina, Where we’re going with Activity Streams. And for more background, here’s Chris Messina’s talk on Activity Streams at the pre-holiday Open Stack Meetup:
And now, some photos of the Activity Stream Meetup:
Lots of good discussion, trying to get everyone on the same page about the problem we’re trying to solve and what we can hope to accomplish today. As people are sharing all sorts of stuff from a rapidly growing list of services (examples just for photos: Flickr, Picasa, Smugmug, etc.). Every social network is either a webwide lifestream aggregator today (early examples: Plaxo Pulse and FriendFeed), or are becoming one quickly (examples: Facebook and MySpace). And every aggregator faces the same set of challenges that arise from the chaos of there being no standard for how to format the feed of user-shared content. No common convention for naming of objects or verbs. This is the classic problem space for the Open Stack of OpenID, OAuth, XRD, Portable Contacts, and OpenSocial.
Great to see the active participation from Luke Shepard from Facebook, who just shared some of the problems of complexity they experienced by having too much flexibility in the verb space. I think he just said “combinatorial explosion” to describe it.
Cool, just noticed that Ian Kennedy is live streaming the event via his mobile phone and Kyte. So now you can watch it so you don’t miss anything!
Chris Messina takes to the white board:
David Recordon of SixApart, who is running the Meetup, with Joseph Smarr:
Okay, now we’re about to go over a draft spec… Martin Atkins of Six Apart is now going over at high-level a review of a draft spec.
Now, Monica Keller of MySpace is jumping in, showing an alternative proposal and getting lots of feedback.
Discussion of reviving Media RSS vs. starting with Atom Media.
David Recordon is showing a demo of a Six Apart implementation done against the current draft spec in answer to a question from Joseph Smarr about how firm the draft feels, and whether we have any good insights from early implementations. It’s a demo of an API which transforms existing Atom and RSS feeds from sites like Flickr, Twitter, Digg, and blogs into new feeds (which can also be aggregated together) that include markup from the draft Activity Streams specifications being discussed. Along with the work from MySpace, this constitutes one of the first two implementations of the draft specification.
What a great working session! We’re two-and-a-half hours in an still going strong. Good discussion now about the importance (and complexities) of handing “friending” events, whether those are bi-directional or “follows”. Some differing thoughts here from the DiSo folks vs. the big social networks. Good sharing of insights from Facebook and Plaxo.
It’s after 6:00, and we’re wrapping up. Great session. Great participation from sites large and small and from folks just looking out for the open Social Web at large.
UPDATE: Check out Marshall Kirkpatrick’s excellent piece on the event on ReadWriteWeb (which also was syndicated to the New York Times) and Marc Canter’s thoughtful post, DiSo Activity Stream Standard.