And the social stacks fit together like that…

One of the things I really missed out on but have been following is the developments around the open stack. I kind of prefer social stack but I can see a lot of benefit to open over social. Anyway, this work has been pioneered by some really good guys including David Recordon, Chris Messina, Sebastian Küpers, etc, etc (sorry to many names to list). Today I was struck by Jyri's blog post about Chris Messina's talk at some event recently.

In his presentation at Friday's event, Chris Messina demonstrated the use case of subscribing to someone who lives on a foreign Web service.

In what follows I'll expand on Chris' story by discussing another use case, where you add the
foreign friend to your address book without needing to go to their site.

Imagine I want to add a friend, David Recordon to my contacts. I
know his email address, so I click 'add contact' in my client and enter
his email.

My client translates David's email address into his OpenID URL, probably using a method called Email to URL Translation.

Now that my client knows where to find David on the Web, it goes out to David's URL and fetches a little file that contains machine-readable pointers
to David's public profile and the photos, status messages, bookmarks,
blogs, and other feeds he publishes. The enabling standards at work
here are likely to be XRDS-Simple and Portable Contacts.

This loop is simply referred to as 'discovery'.

Once my client is done, it is ready to display its findings to me.
Here's a mock-up to illustrate what I might see (the same mock is in
Chris' slides):

Dave

After selecting David's contact information and some of his feeds, I
click 'Save', and a subscription request is sent to these services. They
return a few of David's most recent public updates to me.

The next time David logs into these services, he sees a standard new
subscriber notification. His service can perform discovery on me to
display my name and profile summary to him, and allow him to
reciprocate.

David may also choose to allow me to see some of his private information, such as his contact details. The enabling standard here is of course OAuth.

I have never needed to join any of the services David uses; in fact,
I don't even need to know their names. It is irrelevant to me if he
uses Twitter, Plurk, or Friendfeed to publish his status updates or
prefers Flickr, Photobucket, or Picasa for sharing his photos. All I care about is seeing his updates and being able to respond to them using my own client.

Information wants to be free, and social objects want to travel.

The thing this reminds me of, is when Tim Burners-Lee wrote about the Semantic web and how agents talk to services, etc. You can follow how it works without even knowing the different technologies too well. So while these guys figure out the webside of things, these other guys earn a mention for there work on the services stuff and Controlyourself for there work on openmicroblogging.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.