How to fix the (social) web

I just had the most amazing idea (according to my standards, that is. YMMV): This is how we fix the social web

For starters, let’s have a look what makes different components awesome:

  • Social Networks are great at providing us with a stream of activity from those we deem „friends“ or at least those individuals who are interesting enough that we spend time with their output.
  • Blogs are a great thing to publish without a central authority or website. Trackbacks enable notifications across different websites in possibly realtime.
  • RSS is a great way to syndicate content automatically
  • OpenID provides us with a single source of authentication for each user, but still allows for distributed sites.
  • XMPP / Jabber does essentially the same as Blogs and OpenID, except for (text-)chat.

Each of these things have a downside though:

  • Social Networks lock you in to one provider. Currently, this means either Google or Facebook.
  • Blogs usually require a healthy dose of site‐jumping around. Also, the comment sections are often messy to maintain or read.
  • RSS is as good as your reader.
  • OpenID is a bit hard to set up for newbies, and may or may  not have security issues.
  • XMPP / Jabber is nice to simply use, but has limited functionality when compared to Hangouts for example.

Now, why don’t we add these things together? Let’s create a functional social‐network‐layer for the blogosphere. We expand the weblog standard with the following functions:

  • More user‐centric approach: Allow creators to logically connect all the blogs they contribute to under one person ID. Ideally tie this in to OpenID with cross‐site user authentication (for comments and API use).
  • Create an „add as friend“ trackback notification: When someone adds someone to their blogroll, add in a notification.
  • Standardize the rss‐for‐comments feed url and create an API to allow comments without visiting the site. Make sure that said API can get spam‐proofed.
  • Create a web GUI that basically recreates the bog‐standard social media stream out of your subscribed blogs and their comments.
  • This GUI will also allow you to publish content to your own blog(s) and will utilize the API mentioned above so you can comment on other peoples blogs.
  • For good measure, throw in an AJAX Jabber client

The result should be a distributed web application that anyone could either use from a hoster or host themselves. The components are all using open standards and thus allow a plethora of other implementations, so everyone can potentially have the GUI they love most. And we won’t have any central authority that can willy‐nilly change things and break everyones use‐case.

Granted this is a very rough draft, but so far, I cannot see anything wrong with this idea…

3 Gedanken zu „How to fix the (social) web

  1. Doesnt sound bad at all. I have some small additions

    * Make the client able to handle EMail as well
    * Ensure that all involved standards are open and free
    * Give a little thought on extensibility to easily bring in new input/outputs as needed, e.g. a parser for common bullitinboard software
    * Combine „friending“ with a mandatory public key exchange, so you can share private posts
    * Also a way to show friends which means of contact can reach you currently would be nice (see above for encription of this feature)

  2. I love the idea of the public key exchange, although I wonder how feasible it is to combine encrypted mail with a web‐frontend…

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