One Social Networking Site to Rule them All


Please note this is kinda of a rant on the state of on-line social networking data sharing thing.

Social Networking is everywhere!, its important, intrinsic and relevant now to modern society. Everywhere its Facebook this, Orkut that, Hyves too. However there is a problem, one simple little problem and its todo with your identity.

I have recently been cleaning up my Google Profile, my single page on the web where I declaring who I am and what I am connected to.  I have been updating the sites that I have a login on such as WordPress, Facebook, Google Reader etc and removing outdated ones such as Photobucket and Youtube (even livejournal). This primarily spurred on by my recent decision to join Hyves a social networking site that is popular in the Netherlands. Once I had joined and twittered it, a friend twittered back with the following (or close as):

Why don’t you just build an app to automatically share content between the two to stop you having to update them both separatly.

Which is when I realised the obvious, I have to update both individually from now on unless there is some app to do it for me. Is there? well I dunno, but what we are seeing these days are a series of semi-integration apps. Like the Twitter & with Facebook that allow us to send tweets (micro blogs) to all three at the same time. The new Facebook Connect ID system which had the added bonus of when I recently signed into Digg it found my friends who were also on Digg. My ability to integrate my blog and RSS feed with Facebook and Hyves. However the integration is not complete. Yes when I tweet and someone comments on Facebook, even though they may have twitter or those comments are not propograted to all those services. Similarly the formatting for the blogs is not carried across. Taking inspiration from Tolkiens famous little poem:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

What we need is:

One Social Networking Site to Rule them All, One Site to find them,
One Site to bring them all and in the ether bind them,
In THE CLOUD where the information lies

Looking at it more pragmatically what we need to see is full integration apps, so that when someone comments on my status in Facebook or Hyves or Orkut that has been uploaded via Twitter and posted on the comment is updated on all the sites that the person has profiles on. Also a common set of profile information i.e. an open standard, needs to be defined in every social networking site in order for the information to be propogated from one site to another without me having to do it manually.

In reality the foundation for this is already here with things like OAuth, Facebook Connect, OpenID, OpenSocial and Facebook API. The most promising one being Facebook Connect with their four features stated in their originating blog post for the system from last year of:

  1. Trusted Authentication
  2. Real Identity
  3. Friends Access
  4. Dynamic Privacy

Not to forget the many other sites that are offering API’s to their data. Unfortunately it appears to be a case of Goliath versus Goliath versus Goliath with all sides trying to win what is essentially a battle of mind sets, just like the Cold Ware was about in the 50’s. 60’s and 70’s.  At the end of the day both sides are technically correct, with there modus operandi yet just like the hippies of the 60’s:

Why can’t we all learn to live together in peace and harmony?

Or more pragmatically why can’t they agree to a common subset of API calls for the core data nd allow this to be shared. It shouldn’t be the case that I am only restricted to one site. Maybe this is happening I just dunno, maybe this blog post is late to the game and the stuff is already here, but if its why can’t I connect my Hyves to my Facebook and let the data be shared. Or see full integration between Twitter and Facebook or Hyves and Twitter.


The Future of Community Service: Community Driven User Experience


The other day I was fortunate enough to listen live to an episode of Floss Weekly with @merlyn and @jonobacon and @leolaporte who were interviewing @timoreilly . It was one of the most awe inspiring interviews that I have seen in a long, long time. Not so much for the content but also because of the passion and belief that came from @timoreilly. To me personally it was akin to watching the sermon on the mound. I came away from that interview with a rundown on what the future may hold…

“Open Source is a science, not a religion”

One of the themes that @timoreilly mentioned was that of opensource software, namely that opensource software i.e. linux is one of the tools that people are using to build their online communities upon. For some people opensource software is their ethos, to them it is a way of life, a religion, a tennent that must not be broken. I agree with @timoreilly in that:

“Opensource software is a choice, not a way of life.”

In the end you want to use the right tool for the job. Face it fads will come and go but the true test of time is how successful the tools that we use, develop and maintain, work for us and how they benefit society. Societies are not rigid structures they ebb and flow and what works one minute, may not work the next. By using the right tools for the job we can ensure a happy society and if the tool is opensource then even better.

What I loved most about this podcast was @timoreilly‘s description of what is most likely the next/current trend in technology. While he did not explicitly give it a name, I tend to think of it as: Community Driven User Experience. He described this in terms of what is happening with the iPhone in terms of location based content services.

Community Contributed Content

With Web 2.0 we began to see the ability of a person to give something back to the web. The web became and still is a socially driven blob. It is an enabler to technologies such as social networking (Facebook), blogging (wordpress), microblogging (Twitter). The crucial result being is that all over the world (and by world I mean certain areas of cali) there are databases filling up with users knowledge and data. These are essentially user driven knowledge repositories and are ripe for picking. Each one of them providing some specific information. And in most cases this is a “community” driven effort. Especially with something like google maps and their overlays of community driven and editable content.

User History

Again with the internet and social based media we see the rise of memes and patterns. This is not technically a new thing, as I mentioned earlier memes are just internet fads. From the data generated by user interest, tracking search patterns, twitter tag usage etc, it is possible to determine and track these fads/memes etc. Even better we can isolate these fads geographically.


For several years now mobile phones have allowed us to broadcast our physical location out to the world. With the advent of rich media devices we are now able to bring the web and internet to the phone and to our person.


Finally the above three lead us to the Community Driven User Experience and how it is a reality. By harnessing Community Contributed Content, mixing it with user patterns and history to provided a form of context and narrowing down the field through location we can enhance/augment a persons perception of the world. And do so efficiently, effectively and freely.

Attack of the Pixel Blobs!!


Recently I found an interesting article that listed some of the areas in the world that are pixelated in Google Maps. When you look at some of the maps it appears that we are being invaded by “Killer Pixel Blobs”.


On LaTeX and Ubuntu


As a student doing a research masters, I am using LaTeX for the creation of all my reports and presentations that are to be submitted. I have also just recently switch back to using Ubuntu for work purposes and am now running the latest version. The other day I was checking out some of the new LaTeX add ons from ctan and wanted to experiment (very slow evening). However it came to my surprise that some of these new packages/add ons were not in the latest repo’s for Ubuntu. After a little digging aroudn it was soon clear that the ”latest” deb packages for Ubuntu  contained texlive2007!!! The current version that I am aware of is texlive2008 and that has a nice tlmgr that allows one to update their LaTeX install willy nilly. Apparently this falls down to in part debians fault  but I am nto going to blame anyone, shit just happens.

So my recommendation if you use Ubuntu (i have no idee about Fedora or other non debian based distros), is to go to and install it from there. The down side is that this falls outside of the whole installing software from a distros package management software and ensuring dependancies. But hey who cares its good to be a non-conformist for a while.