The World Wide Web Consortium, in a report on the future of social networking, cites the need for an interoperable distributed social Web framework. The W3C report concludes that applications should share profiles and data across networks so that social networking companies can grow and open further Web 2.0 possibilities.
The World Wide Web Consortium on Feb. 3 released a report on the future of
social networking, citing the need for an interoperable distributed social Web
Participants in the W3C's Workshop on the Future of Social Networking,
including Yahoo Research, Flock, Nokia, Samsung, IBM,
Eli Lilly and YouTube, made a number of observations in the report. One such
observation was that although growing rapidly, social networking
sites-particularly their business models-are hampered by lack of
interoperability and could benefit from micropayment solutions.
Other observations in the report were:
By enabling users to share profiles
and data across networks, social networking sites can grow further and open
possibilities for a decentralized architecture for the Social Web.
Contextual information, especially for
mobile device users, can significantly enrich the social networking user
Many users remain unaware of the impact
of social networking on their privacy.
Many social networking sites have yet
to take into account the special requirements of users with disabilities, and
users on mobile devices.
The two-day workshop drew 55 participating organizations to discuss a variety
of topics, such as:
- the nature of less centralized and
more distributed social networks architectures, including their design and
possible business and technical challenges associated with distributed social
- the increase of contextual
information associated with social networking users, its use and possible abuse;
- the impact of context as well as
existing lack of policies within networks on user privacy risks and the
establishment of a Web of trust; and
- the tendency for existing social
networking platforms to exclude those potential users with disabilities or
constrained devices (e.g., mobile).
"Now is the time for the diverse social network actors out there to
work together and resolve barriers to industry growth and stability," said
Dominique Hazael-Massieux, W3C's Mobile Web Initiative activity lead. "All
social networks users, and especially young people, expect the richest possible
social experience, but with full mobility, accessibility and privacy."
The report concluded that applications should share profiles and data across
networks in order for social networking companies to grow further and open up
more possibilities. But at the same time, data privacy concerns will create
barriers to data portability, either between applications or from one platform
to another, W3C officials said.
The workshop participants also moved to establish several next steps,
including: "the creation of a Social Web Interoperability Incubator Group
... coordination of an open-source demonstration of a decentralized social
network architecture ... creation of a MicroPayments Incubator Group to explore
the opportunity of restarting work on a micropayments protocol in W3C to
facilitate the business development of social networks ... creation of a Social Web
Best Practices Incubator Group ... to explore the opportunity to develop privacy
guidelines for social networks operators and privacy tutorials for social
networks users ... exploring the opportunity to standardize an access control
ontology to facilitate the establishment of privacy boundaries in a distributed
social networking environment ... and development of use cases and requirements
for new context sensors and accessors based on the social networks perspective."
The W3C is looking for input on how to build community
around social networking interoperability. Interested parties can use the
public mailing list