Why the future of online dating is a bigger deal than you think

Mozilla Festival 2017 was great and I’m hoping to write up details as usual, but I wanted to give another pointer to Evan Prodromou for giving the session about dating on the open web.

I realize it seems trivial to people thinking only of press freedom, but romance and sexuality are a huge part of human existence. Almost all major dating sites are owned by a single company (Match.com). It’s an area that requires privacy and gradual disclosure. Open dating systems are fascinating — posting one or more profiles on the open web in a way that preserves your privacy but allows gradual disclosure and connection.

Evan’s slides had a lot in it but as there was a lot to cover, there wasn’t enough time for much discussion. On top of that, when talking about personal & sensitive topics, it sometimes takes time for people to warm up and join the discussion.

Almost 24 hours later in the same space (learning forum 2), I talked about the same subject. I started by flicking through Evan’s slides, looking at Tantek’s blog and throwing in my own thoughts about decentralised dating. As Evan said, it seems trivial to most people but it’s having a major effect on our society.

We had more discussion and although it doesn’t seem like it from the photo, had quite a few people joining. It was good to finally have that critical discussion about not just the technical make up of online dating but its good and bad effects on society and the core of our identity.

Another thing Evan started was to submit the problem space of online dating to the W3C as a community interest group. Although I couldn’t find it in the list of submitted, although he did start adding to a etherpad.

Coffee and Bagel, future of online dating?

Coffee and Bagels

I heard about coffee meet bagel a while ago while researching online dating. The concept is simple and quite effortless. Less of a dating site and more of a way of dating in the modern world.

Coffee Meets Bagel launched in New York City in 2012, when three sisters decided there must be a better way to date in the Big Apple. They created CMB based on three guiding principles:

  1. Unless you want to tell others, your dating life should remain private.
  2. Your friends are the best conduits for your dates.
  3. Meeting quality people doesn’t have to be so awkward or complicated.

Users sign up through Facebook and receive one match – a.k.a. a ‘Bagel’ – every day at noon that is somehow connected to them. Members then have a time limit in which to respond with a simple LIKE or PASS. If all goes well, Coffee and Bagel are put in touch via a private company texting line and magical breakfast-y sparks will fly.

Reason why I would put bets on this could be the future of online dating is because it seems to hit most of the sticking points right now.

  • Friends of friends. Leveraging what already exists and what people are doing today anyway. Using the network for the right reasons.
  • Facebook. How many users does your biggest online dating site have? I bet its a drop in the ocean compared to Facebook.
  • It could be free, low risk and low effort. No need to create a new profile, lie about your past, its all there in Facebook. And catfishing will drop as your friends really know who you are. And what kind of a person would you be if you recommended a catfish? Your reputation would be crap.

At the moment its not free but it would be simple to bypass the company. This would remove the pressure to squeeze every penny out of the opportunities.

This is what my single friend should have been… (Imho)

Lightweight Attention Preference Markup

So this is the 2nd time I'm writing this because I forgot to save the entry when I upgraded the memory on my Dell. Yep 2gig of memory instead of 1gig now but still no decent Blogging tool for Linux. Wblogger and Ecto would have automaticlly saved the entry every few minutes or at least asked me what I should do with the unsaved entry before terminating and throwing my words to a black hole. Anyway enough moaning…

Previously I promised a couple of things in this entry

First up, I'm going to standardise some way of linking FOAF, OPML, OpenID and APML together. I expect I'll keep this very simple using the link element in (x)HTML or somehow combine this into a Hcard profile. Next up a APML microformat or APML lite for sure. I'll try it as I've been studying the others and the general methology of Microformats and I think it could be done. So I'll suggest it and draw up how it works and submit it for lots of review. I'm now exploring how to get APML out of Amarok and RSS Owl.

So how far have I got so far?

One : So I have linked all three (APML, FOAF and OpenID) together using links on my blog. So if you look at the source you will now see this. Which is cool but I think we can do better.

<link rel="openid.server" href="http://www.myopenid.com/server"/>
<link rel="openid.delegate" href="http://cubicgarden.myopenid.com"/>
<link rel="meta" type="application/rdf+xml" title="FOAF" href="http://www.cubicgarden.com/webdav/profile/foaf.rdf"/>
<link rel="meta" type="text+xml" title="APML"
href="https://apml.engagd.com/apml/www.cubicgarden.com/blojsom/blog/cubicgarden"/>

When I say do better, I've been looking around a couple of things. First up is a better way to do the basic link element so it can be turned into a RDF triple later. It was found while looking at RDF/A examples which will be explained later.

When a meta or link is used within another meta or link, the internal triple has, as subject, the external triple. This is reification.

<link about="" rel="[cc:license]" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/">  <meta property="dc:date" content="2005-10-18" /> </link>


which yields:

[ rdf:subject <>; rdf:predicate cc:license ; rdf:object <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/> ] dc:date "2005-10-18".

Now I'm not that keen on the syntax, but its not over complex and I guess you could do something like this.

	<link about="." rel="[foaf/images/emoticons/silly.giferson]" href="http://www.cubicgarden.com/webdav/profile/foaf.rdf">
	<meta property="apml:profile" content="https://apml.engagd.com/apml/www.cubicgarden.com/blojsom/blog/cubicgarden" />
	<meta property="openid.server" content="http://www.myopenid.com/server"/>
	<meta property="openid.delegate" content="http://cubicgarden.myopenid.com"/>
	</link>


But I guess getting all those openID parsers to change now will be a nightmare, so to be honest I'm happy either way. But I think it does make sense to link everything in the HTML rather that rely on a OpenID parser to look at the HTML then find the URL for the FOAF file and then parse through that to find the Open ID url. Yes I already know you can put OpenID in FOAF thats why I'm saying its not a good idea, but there is no harm in having it in the FOAF optionally. Which is what I'm going to do, but I've recenly seen how out of date my FOAF file really is, so I'm going to try and update it soon. If anyone knows how to get FOAF out of Facebook, Flickr, Delicious, Linkedin, Dopplr, Upcoming, etc that would be useful. O'reilly's connections network use to allow for FOAF but somehwere along the line seems to have died or closed down, because I tried to find it and login, so I can at least start somewhere. So generally number one is done.

Two : So the huge challenge of building a Microformat for APML, so people can easily put in there preferences without building a very complex xml file. Because lets be honest, like RDF and other XML's this stuff was never meant to be built by humans. Also I like the idea of using standard HTML elements and attributes so people can instantly try this stuff out. I saw recently on the microformats blog that there is almost 450 million? examples of Microformats now and its growing everyday. Its not hard to see why when you consider how it is to try out some of them. For example adding a tag is as simple as adding another attribute to a link. Some of the other microformats are a little more tricky but generally with a example in front of most people they can work it out quickly. So whats the W3C's answer to Microformats? Well RDF/A which is a unified framework build around putting semantic meaning into HTML. A while ago it was meant to be for XHTML 2.0 but its been brough forward which is great news. Because the only other alternative seemed to be e-RDF which no one could work out if was royality free or not. Ok I have to admit I'm writing this entry over a couple of days. So I found my way on to the O'reilly connections network again. So you should be able to see my public view here. Anyway the point is that they already have FOAF, which makes my life slightly easier that starting from scratch again. Going back to APML, I'll try modeling it with RDF/A and see what happens. So far I think my plans is to keep the explict and implicit context and maybe attach it to a openID or unique ID. I'm not going to include stuff like the source because its too complex and not that relevent for a lightweight version of APML. I mean if you really want APML, just use APML. If you want something to indicate your preferences (< href="http://www.tommorris.org/blog/">beyond a link) in HTML, what I'm brewing up might just be right for you. I've also decided to call it LiteAPM, as in Lightweight Attention Preference Markup for now.

Three : Ok I'm not being funny but where the hell does Amarok store its configurations and database? I think I've found RSSOwl's basic configuration stuff but content i'm not so sure about yet. But then again I've not really tried really hard yet. I can't find a mention about Amarok anywhere. So I hit the web and found a way to pull almost anything I want out of Amarok via the command line. So honestly all I really need now is to learn how to program Perl or install something like XMLstarlet, and learn how to use stuff like the cron and unix pipes. Wow now I can do all that stuff I've been talking about for a long time. Stay tuned…

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]

Dopplr now supports Microformats import for contacts…

…but wheres the FOAF? via the Dopplr blog

If you’d like to try importing from GMail, Twitter, a local vCard file or using a contact list from a site supporting the HCard/XFN microformats, please try out these new capabilities and send us feedback.

Plaxo support would be nice but at least I can export everything out of Plaxo as Vcard and other formats.

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]

Titbits from the last few weeks

So there is a few things which I've twittered but not blogged recently. Rather that use up tons of entries with one liners (tom), I prefer to roll them into one large entry.

Linked-in

I caved in the other day when Plaxo added support for Linked-in. I had been thinking about it for years but choose not to be involved because I simply didn't see the point. The one which almost tipped me over the top was Linked-in support in Particls (touchstone). I wanted to see what extra information it might add to the APML file but didn't have an account to try it with. But now I do. I would just add, Chris and the team you should add linked-in support as a input adapter not bolt it on to the Feed adapter. This code might be useful too, because I and others might be able to hack together other input adapters for Flickr, Delicious, etc. I still want to play a lot more with my FOAF profile because I think thats so much more powerful. So anyway, you can link to me using my bbc email address or search for my name.

Particls

Recently something has gone wrong with Particls (touchstone) it happened when it tried to swap my account from Touchstone to Particls directory. I need to sort it out as my APML file is too neutral now and I'm not getting those good sharp posts coming through like before.  The RSS screensaver (sent to lifehacker btw) is also doing lots of repeating, so I suspect the Pebble output isn't work correctly. I got a feeling I might end up doing a complete post with screenshots because its changed so much since I last looked at it.

Trusted Places and Dopplr

I've been using reusing Trustedplaces recently when I go away to a different cities. Now I have trusted places in New York, San Francisco and of course London. I have also started using Dopplr which tracks your trips and shows your friends trips. Its really cool but I wish it would keep your old trips so you can compare in the future and maybe hang things off of it like flickr pictures, trusted places reviews, etc. I look forward to when Trustedplaces and Dopplr get APIs or tons of feeds.

Dopplr my map

Xtech: Pipelines

I'm wrote the paper for Xtech recently and I'm in the process of writing the presentation. I'm still playing with my flow * setup but the presentation is the most important thing. I'm hoping to get the Eurostar to Paris but it looks like I'll be getting a plane because the BBC don't have a eurostar account. I'm in Paris for a week but the last part will be with friends from Minneapolis.

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]

Time to get semantic

get semantic.com

Something which I didn't mention but others have is the fight between the large S semantic web guys and the small s semantic web guys. Aka Microformats vs RDF. You can see the video here. What us RDF-ish guys were suggesting was using eRDF instead of Microformats for extended semantic markup. We proposed to give RDF in XHTML a new name, Macroformats. Tom Morris, after a chat with some of the microformats guys like Tantek and Kevin Marks, changing the name. Tom Morris has now setup getsemantic.com, which is a place where everyone writing semantic markup can get together and promote more semantic markup.

Wow, it's been an absolute mad panic of announcements. Firstly, “macroformats” is dead. It lasted all of a few days, but realism set in – assisted by some pissed off microformateers – and we ditched the name.
We've still got the domain names, but they will redirect and we aren't going to advertise them.
I'm just waiting for the Internet to catch up – specifically, DNS. Once the DNS machine has figured out what it's doing, then we can proceed to building the site.
I actually bought the licence for Snapz Pro X ($69!) because I feel that screencasts are going to be very important in what we are doing. Screencasts certainly helped with things like the Ruby on Rails project.
The plan is to help people understand the process of coming up with their own formats – which can be as simple as writing up a bunch of class names or as complex as coming up with a 3,000 item ontology. Of course, if they only want to do the first one, there'll be people who know how to do all the other steps and will do it for them.
I've sent out a sort of 'vision' statement to the people on the list, but I won't bore you with it here – my blog isn't the best place for it, after all. Once the site launches, something very much like it will be up there.
The first GetSemantic project I'm going to be pushing for is Embedded BibTeX. I use BibTeX a lot. The “citation” work at microformats.org is suffering because there's no clear cowpath to be paved. But we have a BibTeX ontology written in DAML+OIL and it wouldn't be too hard to use eRDF to turn that in to HTML. I'm already writing academic essays in XHTML with CSS and having the tools to embed and extract those citations would rule.
The other thing that I might do is “hRSS”. hAtom is a great format, but not all web sites can be turned in to Atom – RSS 2.0 serves sites like mine better. I'll follow hAtom as closely as possible, but then move away when the RSS 2.0 specification differs from the Atom specification. Before I get flames, there are good reasons to choose RSS 2.0 if you have untitled blog entries. And, yes, there are good reasons for that too. You may not like the reasons, but they exist.
One of the key differences between GetSemantic and the more formalised microformats is that we're going to say “yes” more often. Think of them as science experiments – have fun, build something, see whether it works. We'll start herding cows down new paths and then if that works, then it might become a microformat. If it doesn't work, then we will learn why it doesn't work and try not to make that mistake in the future.

Anyway, I've graphed out where we're coming from, because its easy to think we're suggesting Microformats are crap. Well thats not what we're saying. We all love Microformats but sometimes we find them a little limiting. The example I always use is XFN vs FOAF. XFN has a limited amount of relationships, while FOAF has tons. Because you can put FOAF in eRDF, this means eRDF is more extensible. But on the other side, this all adds to the complexity and the amount of people who actually want to do this drops a lot.

Semantic markup graph

Thanks to Sheila who forced me to draw this out a while ago, when trying to explain how eRDF, RDF, XML, etc all fit in the grander scope of things. I'm considering updating it with one including XHTML 2.0 and RDF/A. Oh great work Tom.

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]

Live clipboard from Microsoft

Before I've even had the chance to play with Microsoft's Simple Sharing Extensions, Ray Ozzie just shared a prototype they have been playing with internally. Its called Live Clipboard and basiclly is a clipboard for the semantic web.

Its a JavaScript-based solution which works in most browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox. It stores data on the page as actual xml data trees which can be copied and pasted without having to select the text content. Its a difficult concept to explain but luckly Ray's got tons of screencasts to show how it works. The interesting thing is that not only does Live clipboard work in the browser domain but also in the desktop domain. Thanks to 25hours a day for the Etech trip report, which alerted me to Live clipboard in my RSS reader today.

Honestly when I first read the post, I did think this would be perfect as a Firefox Extension or even Greasemonkey script but you would miss out on the desktop side of things. I'll be interested to know how flexable Live clipboard is. For example will it read all types of Microformats? How about FOAF and XFN? Humm, I wonder if you could do something between a Firefox extension and a Yahoo Widget?

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]

Compromised passwords and your idenity online

So I just recently downloaded the Skype 2.0 beta which supports Video chat. And deceided to go try it out, but oh no… I cant login. Whats going on I started to wonder, its not like I got the wrong username and password because I've been using Keepass for quite some time now, plus Skype saves the password if you want it to anyway. So i'm wondering what the hecks going on. 1min of searching later I find Skype Passwords Compromised?

So generally if you registered for share.skype.com then your at risk. Well thats me, after my little dabble with there developers area. Now I cant access my skype address and because I moved house and changed broadband account I cant actually retrieve my changed password. So in other words, the user cubicgarden on skype is not going to be me anytime soon. Yeah I'm pretty bitter about it all.

Something simular happened with my old cubicgarden Bloglines account a while ago and let me tell you about the frustrating emails I sent trying to prove I was the user of that account. It was insane to say the least. If Skype like Bloglines dont accept that as the registered owner of cubicgarden.com I would choose cubicgarden as a username then I'm once again stuck. There has got be a better way to do Identity online? Talking of which Dick Hardt (Sxip identity) talk at web 2.0 is interesting to say the least. I really see the need for something like sxip, as relying on your email or even a url for a id is sucky to say the least. Geez even using a hash in a FOAF file would be better than email and a url.

Can I also just say, this is another example of company's leaking your online identity. Privicy and security online, well what do you make of that improbulus?

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]