February 6, 2007

Social networking architecture of the future continued

Responding to a question by Jon Udell a few hours ago, I argued that private social networking “walled gardens” aren’t needed. The whole thing can be done publicly as well, assuming there’s a central database to help with things like access control, as in the hypothetical service I named “Linkerati.”

Some other comments on his post raise issues like “Yes, but what if a walled garden is the easiest way to get people to post the needed information?” I have a quick reply: Just let all the needed information be entered in the central database, and you’re clearly better off than in a walled garden.

At first, that may seem to be a distinction without a difference. You enter your data at Linkerati, and surely Linkerati has a way to display that info – so haven’t we just reinvented LinkedIn? Not exactly. One has the option to generate one’s own page at any time from the Linkerati directory. One can register with forums and other communities, and generate profile pages from the central directory. One can hide and display subsets of one’s profile information in venues with different levels of access control.

And little of this depends on whether the database is truly centralized, or rather more federated.


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