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Which clippings match 'Distributed System' keyword pg.1 of 1
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
25 MAY 2010

From Digital Libraries to Knowledge Commons

"Digital Libraries began as systems whose goal was to simulate the operation of traditional libraries for books and other text documents in digital form. Significant developments have been made since then, and Digital Libraries are now on their way to becoming 'Knowledge Commons'. These are pervasive systems at the centre of intellectual activity, facilitating communication and collaboration among scientists or the general public and synthesizing distributed multimedia documents, sensor data, and other information.

Digital Libraries represent the confluence of a variety of technical areas both within the field of informatics (eg data management and information retrieval), and outside it (eg library sciences and sociology). Early Digital Library efforts mostly focused on bridging some of the gaps between the constituent fields, defining `digital library functionality', and integrating solutions from each field into systems that support such functionality. These have resulted in several successful systems: researchers, educators, students and members of other communities now continuously search Digital Libraries for information as part of their daily routines, decision–making processes, or entertainment.

Most current Digital Library systems share certain characteristics. They are content–centric, motivated by the need to organize and provide access to data and information. They concentrate on storage–centric functionality, mainly offering static storage and retrieval of information. They are specialized systems, built from scratch and tailored to the particular needs and characteristics of the data and users of their target environment, with little provision for generalization. They tend to operate in isolation, limiting the opportunities for large–scale analysis and global–scale information availability. Finally, they concentrate on material that is traditionally found in libraries, mostly related to cultural heritage. Hence, despite the undisputed advantages that current Digital Library systems offer compared to the pre–1990s era, the above restrictions limit the role that Digital Libraries can play in Knowledge Societies, which will serve as important educational nuclei in the future.

Together with the general community, the DELOS Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries has initiated a long journey from current Digital Libraries towards the vision of 'Knowledge Commons'. These will be environments that will impose no conceptual, logical, physical, temporal or personal borders or barriers on content. They will be the universal knowledge repositories and communication conduits of the future, common vehicles by which everyone will access, analyse, evaluate, enhance and exchange all forms of information. They will be indispensable tools in the daily personal and professional lives of people, allowing everyone to advance their knowledge, professions and roles in society. They will be accessible at any time and from anywhere, and will offer a user–friendly, multi–modal, efficient and effective interaction and exploration environment.

Achieving this requires significant changes to be made to past development strategies, which shaped the functionality, operational environment and other aspects of Digital Libraries. Knowledge Commons will have different characteristics. They will be person–centric, motivated by needs to provide novel, sophisticated, and personalized experiences to users. They will concentrate on communication and collaboration functionality, facilitating intellectual interactions on themes that are pertinent to their contents, with storage and retrieval being only a small part of such functionality. They will remain specialized systems that will nevertheless be built on top of widely–available, industrial–strength, generic management systems, offering all typically required functionality. In general, they will be managed by globally distributed systems, through which information sources across the world will exchange and integrate their contents. Finally, they will be characterized by universality of information and application, serving all applications and comprehensively managing all forms of content."

(Yannis Ioannidis)


access to informationcollaborationconduitconfluence • content-centric • DELOS • digital library • distributed multimedia • distributed systeminformaticsinformationinformation retrievalintegration • intellectual interactions on themes • knowledge commonsknowledge construction • knowledge repositories • knowledge society • library • library sciences • Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries • person-centric • personalised experiencepervasiverepository • retrieval • storage • storage-centric


Simon Perkins

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