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22 FEBRUARY 2014

An Introduction to the Federated Social Network

"To understand how federated social networking would be an improvement, we should understand how online social networking essentially works today. Right now, when you sign up for Facebook, you get a Facebook profile, which is a collection of data about you that lives on Facebook's servers. You can add words and pictures to your Facebook profile, and your Facebook profile can have a variety of relationships – it can be friends with other Facebook profiles, it can be a 'fan' of another Facebook page, or 'like' a web page containing a Facebook widget. Crucially, if you want to interact meaningfully with anyone else's Facebook profile or any application offered on the Facebook platform, you have to sign up with Facebook and conduct your online social networking on Facebook's servers, and according to Facebook's rules and preferences. (You can replace 'Facebook' with 'Orkut,' 'LinkedIn,' 'Twitter,' and essentially tell the same story.)

We've all watched the dark side of this arrangement unfold, building a sad catalog of the consequences of turning over data to a social networking company. The social networking company might cause you to overshare information that you don't want shared, or might disclose your information to advertisers or the government, harming your privacy. And conversely, the company may force you to undershare by deleting your profile, or censoring information that you want to see make it out into the world, ultimately curbing your freedom of expression online. And because the company may do this, governments might attempt to require them to do it, sometimes even without asking or informing the end–user.

How will federated social networks be different? The differences begin with the code behind online social networking. The computer code that gives you a Facebook profile is built in a closed way – it's proprietary and kept relatively secret by Facebook, so you have to go through Facebook to create, maintain, and interact with Facebook profiles or applications.

But federated social network developers are doing two things differently in order to build a new ecosystem. First, the leading federated social networking software is open–source: that means that anybody can download the source code, and use it to create and maintain social networking profiles for themselves and others. Second, the developers are simultaneously collaborating on a new common language, presumably seeking an environment where most or even all federated social networking profiles can talk to one another.

What will that likely mean in practice? To join a federated social network, you'll be able to choose from an array of 'profile providers,' just like you can choose an email provider. You will even be able to set up your own server and provide your social networking profile yourself. And in a federated social network, any profile can talk to another profile – even if it's on a different server.

Imagine the Web as an open sea. To use Facebook, you have to immigrate to Facebook Island and get a Facebook House, in a land with a single ruler. But the distributed social networks being developed now will allow you to choose from many islands, connected to one another by bridges, and you can even have the option of building your own island and your own bridges."

(Richard Esguerra, 21 March 21 2011, Electronic Frontier Foundation)



2011abstraction layeragency of access and engagementautonomy • centralised infrastructure • centralised platformcommon interfaceComputer Supported Cooperative Work • content distribution networks • data contextdecentralisation • decentralised architecture • decentralised infrastructure • distributed ecosystemdistributed models • distributed social network • Distributed Social Networking (DOSN) • distributed social networks • distributed systemElectronic Frontier Foundation • Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) • Facebook • Federated Social Networks (FSN) • Google Wave Federation Protocol • hCard • information ecosysteminteroperabilityknowledge commonsLinkedInlocalisationmultiplatform • OAuth • Online Social Networks (OSN) • open architecture • open protocol • Open Stack • open standardsOpenID • OpenSocial • Orkut • OStatus • peer-to-peer exchange • Portable Contacts (open protocol) • social network aggregation services • software portability • structural abstraction • system scalability • technology integrationTwitter • user application data • user autonomy • Wave Federation Protocol • web feeds • web services • XFN • XRD


Simon Perkins
28 DECEMBER 2013

Connectivist Learning Theory

"A central tenet of most learning theories is that learning occurs inside a person. Even social constructivist views, which hold that learning is a socially enacted process, promotes the principality of the individual (and her/his physical presence–i.e. brain–based) in learning. These theories do not address learning that occurs outside of people (i.e. learning that is stored and manipulated by technology)... In a networked world, the very manner of information that we acquire is worth exploring. The need to evaluate the worthiness of learning something is a meta–skill that is applied before learning itself begins. When knowledge is subject to paucity, the process of assessing worthiness is assumed to be intrinsic to learning. When knowledge is abundant, the rapid evaluation of knowledge is important. The ability to synthesize and recognize connections and patterns is a valuable skill. Including technology and connection making as learning activities begins to move learning theories into a digital age. We can no longer personally experience and acquire learning that we need to act. We derive our competence from forming connections. Karen Stephenson states: 'Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people's experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge. 'I store my knowledge in my friends' is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people.

Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self–organization theories"

(George Siemens, P2P Foundation)


accepted knowledge • Albert Bandura • Albert-Laszlo Barabasi • Andrew Clark • Brent Davis • Chris Jones • collective knowledge • complexity of views • connection forming • connections and patterns • connectivism • conventional wisdom • Dave Cormier • David Rumelhart • David Wileydigital age • embodied cognition • Ernst von GlasersfeldEtienne Wengerevaluate and select • evaluate worthiness • evaluation skills • Gavriel Salomon • George Siemens • heedful interrelating • I store my knowledge with my friendsindividualismisolated individualJames Gibson • James McClelland • Jean Lave • Jerome Bruner • Karen Stephenson • Karl Weick • know-how • know-what • know-who • knowledge collectionknowledge commons • knowledge evaluation • knowledge synthesis • learning is socially enacted • learning theory • Lev VygotskyLudwig Wittgenstein • Mark Mason • Marshall McLuhan • Martin de Laat • Marvin Minsky • meta-analysismetacognition • Michael Spivey • Neil Postmannetwork societynetworked world • networks are everywhere • P2P Foundation • patterns of connections • patterns of knowledge • paucity • Paul Churchland • recognition rules • Ronald Barnett • Roy Pea • self-organisation theories • self-organising systemsensemaking • Seymour Papert • shared knowledge • shared learning interests • situated learning • social cognitive theory • social construction of knowledge • social learning theory • social-constructivist approach • Starr-Roxanne Hiltz • systems thinkingwicked problems


Simon Perkins
07 NOVEMBER 2012

Research Catalogue: international database for artistic research

"The Research Catalogue (RC) is a searchable database for archiving artistic research. RC content is not peer reviewed, nor is it highly controlled for quality, being checked only for appropriateness. As a result, the RC is highly inclusive.

The open source status of the RC is essential to its nature and serves its function as a connective and transitional layer between academic discourse and artistic practice, thereby constituting a discursive field for artistic research.

The RC creates a link between (1) elaborated documentation of the work; and (2) expositions and comments that engage with the contribution of the work as research.

Given that the RC is a site for artistic research, to add a work is to make a claim that the work can be seen as research; through expositions, comments and articles the initial claim is transformed into an argument. It is believed that the reflective space provided by the RC can become an essential part of the research process by providing a suitable structure in which to develop the relationship between documentation and exposition, whilst also retaining congruence with art itself.

Clearly, the RC is the backbone of JAR: potential JAR expositions emerge from the range of the artistic research activities taking place in it for peer–review and development within the RC space itself. Authors may nominate or JAR editors may select expositions for development as JAR contributions.

If you believe that RC software might also support your research database needs then explore the possibility of using the RC as your repository, by contacting us."

(Society of Artistic Research)


academic discourse • ARC (acronym) • archiveartistic practiceartistic research • artistic research archive • Artistic Research Catalogue • artistic works as research • artistic works research • commentscreative practice researchcritical commentarydiscourse and practicediscursive field • discursive field for artistic research • documentation and exposition • elaborated documentation of the work • expositions • inclusive arts • information in context • intellectual argument • international database • international design discourseinterpretationJAR (journal)Journal for Artistic Research • journal management system • Karlsruhe University of Arts and Designknowledge commonsknowledge productionknowledge repositoryknowledge sharingnew voicespeer-reviewed • RC (acronym) • reflective space • research archiveresearch articlesResearch Catalogue (service)research collectionresearch databaseresearch processsearchable databasesharing and distributing knowledgesharing ideasSociety for Artistic Research (SAR) • the work as research


Simon Perkins
06 NOVEMBER 2012

Open Courses are upending the higher education paradigm

"Open Courses will definitively shift the power from content to community in Higher Learning. The second coming of knowledge is firmly associated with free connections, inquiry and conversations, something that textbooks implicitly discourage. Textbooks, for all they stand for, are the industrial age contraptions that dominated learning for most of last fifty years; Open courses bring a much needed, paradigm shifting update.

In summary, then, Open Courses are eating the publishers' lunch, and that's where the resentment comes from. These masters of the learning universe already had enough trouble with the culture of Internet, and Open Courses represent everything they feared: the communities, the conversations and the knowledge commons. This isn't a battle which is over yet, but we may just be witnessing a passing of an age."

(Supriyo Chaudhuri, 05 November 2012)


2012connectivismcredentialism • credentials or access • diploma mill • free connections • from content to community • game-changer • higher learningindustrial ageindustrial revolutioninternet cultureknowledge commonsknowledge communitiesknowledge conversations • learning conversations • learning networksMOOCsnew business models • open courses • open courseware • open education • paradigm shiftpedagogic recontextualising fieldpolitical legitimacy • power shift • PRF • privileged access • publisher and the profit • publishing revenues • sale of print • Supriyo Chaudhuri • textbook publishers • textbooksuniversities


Simon Perkins
21 FEBRUARY 2012

Open Culture: a respository of cultural & educational media

"Open Culture brings together high–quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community. Web 2.0 has given us great amounts of intelligent audio and video. It's all free. It's all enriching. But it's also scattered across the web, and not easy to find. Our whole mission is to centralize this content, curate it, and give you access to this high quality content whenever and wherever you want it. Free audio books, free online courses, free movies, free language lessons, free ebooks and other enriching content – it's all here. Open Culture was founded in 2006."

(Dan Colman et al.)

Fig.1 Jim Henson's 1963 Robot Film Uncovered by AT&T.



2006 • audio books • audio resources • cabinet of curiositiescollectioncontent • cultural media • digital resourceseBookebookseducational media • enriching content • Francis Baconfreefree resources • Jim Henson • knowledge commons • language lessons • lifelong learningonline lectures • online movies • online resources • open culture • Open Culture (resource)Peter Greenaway • quality content • resource • respository • The Republicvideo resources


Simon Perkins

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