Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production


Hey there! This article was written in 2006.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

FOAFing it up

Posted 23 August 2006 in foaf, myspace, and social-networking

Having cross-posted blog entries to MySpace for a month, I can safely say that nobody leaves MySpace to read the rest of my blog entries. My little experiment has demonstrated that there is no need to continue cross-posting to MySpace. But a bigger question is this: do I really need to establish a relationship with people on multiple networks? I currently collect friends across Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and Last.fm. I've wanted to get a Friendster and Orkut account as well, but have yet to do so...but to what end?

There will always be another social network out there that people are going to be using. I've almost decided to dump all of my friends on MySpace, simply because there isn't any point. I've thoroughly demonstrated to myself that I can't use MySpace to draw people to my true web presence, so why bother posting? In face, why bother "friending" people at all? The entire point was to get my face in their friend list - maybe they'll click through and get to my website, but that's only happened once this month! Thus, there's no need to waste my energy collecting my friends on a site that serves no purpose to me while simultaneously offending my sensibilities.

I would like to map my relationships in some way; after all, it's all the rage! However, I prefer to avoid centralization. That's where FOAF comes in. FOAF manages and maps my relationships, and does so in two ways that make it appealing to me.

First, it's decentralized. This fits well with my ideologies regarding the concentration of control: avoid choke points that could artificially limit my access to, and control of, my data.

Second, it allows me to pick the right tool for the job. As an example, MySpace brings a number of tools under one roof, including friendship mapping, blogging, photo and video sharing, and a shoutbox. None, none of these is a stellar offering. Even the friendship mapping is poor! Unfortunately, I've had no recourse but to use Facebook and MySpace to map my friendships, in hopes that people would visit my site for the blogging and photo sharing...which they don't. C'est la vie.

I think FOAF might be the right tool for the job. It's interesting stuff, and my hope is to investigate what it can do for me. You'll be the first to see the results.

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