Using Open Standards to Free the Social Graph

David Recordon of SixApart (very recently of Verisign) has posted a manifesto on the need for exposing the social graph (Radar post). He also demonstrates SixApart’s willingness to put their weight behind it. As he states in the opening paragraph:

* You should own your social graph

* Privacy must be done right by placing control in your hands

* It is good to be able to find out what is already public about you on the Internet

* Everyone has many social graphs, and they shouldn’t always be connected

* Open technologies are the best way to solve these problems

* We’re going to release code and demos soon

In the rest of the post David steps through the importance of OpenID, the use of XFN bi-directional links to prove ownership of a public webpage (it’s as simple as adding rel=”me” to the link), and how these XFN links can be used to create a social graph. In the 6A post there are screencasts illustrating each of these points.

my plugin

6A’s hosted products, LiveJournal, TypePad and Vox, will all soon support XFN (they already support FOAF). David also shared a new MovableType plugin that will assist with the management of your web presence (see screenshot to the left).

Though 6A is spearheading the movement they are not working alone. Pownce, Twitter, LinkedIn, hi5,, and Yelp also XFN-enable their networks.

Why is this important? For a long time people have been taking the time to reconstitute their social network over and over again. I for one can easily imagine the amount of time this might save me. This new movement should allow me to move my social graph from service to service easily and quickly. This would also give me more control over my social network.

David Recordon will be giving two timely talks (on OpenID and Opening the Social Graph) at the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin in November as well as talking about XFN at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco in October.