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Which clippings match 'Common Interface' 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)

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TAGS

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

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
31 MAY 2010

Representational State Transfer (REST)

"The Representational State Transfer (REST) style is an abstraction of the architectural elements within a distributed hypermedia system. REST ignores the details of component implementation and protocol syntax in order to focus on the roles of components, the constraints upon their interaction with other components, and their interpretation of significant data elements. It encompasses the fundamental constraints upon components, connectors, and data that define the basis of the Web architecture, and thus the essence of its behavior as a network–based application."

(Roy Fielding, 2000)

[1] Cody Fauser, James MacAulay, Edward Ocampo–Gooding, and John Guenin 'High level overview of a RESTful Rails web service'.

[2] Fielding, Roy Thomas. Architectural Styles and the Design of Network–based Software Architectures. Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Irvine, 2000.

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TAGS

2000abstractionAPIcommon interfacedata • distributed hypermedia system • integratenetwork • network-based application • programming • Representational State Transfer • RESTREST APIRoy Fieldingsoftware architectureUniversity of Californiaweb architectureweb services

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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