I, along with many of you, am fighting hard to keep my head above the surface, as I tread the rising waters of the nascent Social Web. New sites are popping up every day. Join one, and you’re likely to go through a drill that’s become all too familiar: Generate another username/password pair. Recreate your profile. Slurp in your GMail or other address books. Build up your friends list all over again. In the process, generate a ton of connection request emails (also called “bac’n” — not quite spam, but not good for you).
Robert Scoble highlights these problems in the upcoming May issue of Fast Company magazine in an article entitled, “How to Fix the Web.” Those of us working on the problem, appreciate the continued advocacy from Robert, who became a poster child for the issue of “data portability” in early January. Sharing the controversy with Robert, I did feel some intense heat from a very polarized debate at the time, but in hindsight, the pain was worth it. Within days, the DataPortability.org workgroup managed to sign up Google, Plaxo, and Facebook, in a move widely credited with setting the stage for 2008 to be the year of data portability.
For those interested in helping move the ball forward, I encourage you to attend the Data Sharing Workshop in San Francisco in the next two days. It kicks off at 9:00 AM tomorrow.
In my view, we are really on the cusp of the opening up of the true Social Web. Making it all possible is a collection of building block technologies (OpenID, Oauth, microformats, OpenSocial, the Social Graph API, and one or two still-missing pieces). But none of those technologies is anything a user needs to know about or understand. These enabling technologies need to get wrapped up into three or more critical services of the Social Web: Identity Providers (examples Clickpass and Yahoo!), Social Graph Providers (stay tuned: Plaxo? Facebook? Others?), and Content Aggregators (Plaxo Pulse, FriendFeed, Iminta, SocialThing, Facebook, and a new one every week!).
Want more detail on this vision and how it snaps together? Be sure to see Joseph Smarr’s talk next Wednesday at the Web 2.0 Expo.
Or see the great post by Kaliya (a.k.a “Identity Woman”), who is facilitating the unconference aspect of the Data Sharing Summit.