FOAF and social networking

The most interesting thing I’ve noticed about Flickr in the past week is that within one or two-degrees of my Flickr profile I’ve found so many people whose weblogs I subscribe to. Evhead, Kottke, Anil Dash, BluishOrange – all these are ones which just spring to mind now, there are plenty of others.

So what I want are FOAF profiles for the people I’m subscribed to which not only gives their usernames on systems like Flickr but then shows me how closely related to them I am (maybe via TouchGraph if I wanted it in a map style, but HTML will do me just fine – Orkut actually did a good job of this) based on what other relationships I have with them and any they may have with me.

So. We have part of this with Seth Ladd’s recent work on generating FOAF from Flickr. What else do we need? Well ideally, unless we want to spider the entire networks behind these systems we need these people to generate FOAF which links to FOAF files of the accounts they have on various networks (so in my FOAF file I should link to a FOAF file of my Flickr account, my account, IM account, etc).

Of course, this is pretty unlikely to happen. So what would happen if someone started doing it for them? Is centralising someone’s distributed persona a problem? Presumably they’ve put that much detail about themselves online for a reason, but as we saw recently when Plink was turned off because of FUD-fuelled complaints, some people don’t like it.

On the other hand, mapping Flickr relationships through FOAF-naut would be a great way to visualise the centres and communities in Flickr: find out who’s a ‘contact whore’ by adding people but isn’t added themselves (oh yes, Flickr supports the notion of reciprical contact acknowledgement very well), who belongs to the most communities and so on.

Sounds great to me! Seth should set his FOAFverse app to harvest his own FOAFlickr data and display it for the world to see via the SVG magic that is FOAFnaut 🙂

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2 thoughts on “FOAF and social networking”

  1. Taking Seth’s work and plugging it into foafnaut would be a piece of cake. As it’s a closed flickr system, no crawling or caching or whatever needs to be done. You can live scrape the data each time (well, with intelligent caching).

    All it would really take is tailoring foafnaut code to understand the RDF in that doc, really shouldn’t take too long, maybe I’ll find the time soon. I think it would be pretty slow though with the two proxies before it got to the data, I guess caching would help with that…

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