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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)

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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
22 JULY 2012

Computer Supported Collaborative Learning

"CSCL is focused on how collaborative learning supported by technology can enhance peer interaction and work in groups, and how collaboration and technology facilitate sharing and distributing of knowledge and expertise among community members."

(Lasse Lipponen, 2002)

2). Lipponen, L. (2002). "Exploring foundations for computer–supported collaborative learning". Proceedings of the Conference on Computer Support for Collaborative Learning: Foundations for a CSCL Community. Boulder, Colorado, International Society of the Learning Sciences: 72–81.

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TAGS

19962002ACM • CAI • Carmen Egido • collaboration and learningcollaborative learning • collaborative nature • Computer Assisted Instruction • computer assisted learningComputer Supported Collaborative LearningComputer Supported Cooperative Work • CSC • CSCLCSCWeducational technology • emerging paradigm • group workgroupware • human cognition and learning • Intelligent Tutoring Systems • ITS • Jay David Bolter • Jolene Galegher • knowledge distribution • knowledge sharing • Lasse Lipponen • learning and teachinglearning technology • Logo-as-Latin • parallelismpedagogy • peer interaction • Robert Kraut • Roy Pea • Saul Greenberg • sharing and distributing knowledgetechnology and collaborationtechnology facilitated sharing • Timothy Koschmann • University of Helsinki • working in groups

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
12 DECEMBER 2010

E-learning 2.0: content is used rather than read and resembles language or conversation rather than a book or a manual

"What happens when online learning software ceases to be a type of content–consumption tool, where learning is 'delivered,' and becomes more like a content–authoring tool, where learning is created? The model of e–learning as being a type of content, produced by publishers, organized and structured into courses, and consumed by students, is turned on its head. Insofar as there is content, it is used rather than read– and is, in any case, more likely to be produced by students than courseware authors. And insofar as there is structure, it is more likely to resemble a language or a conversation rather than a book or a manual.

The e–learning application, therefore, begins to look very much like a blogging tool. It represents one node in a web of content, connected to other nodes and content creation services used by other students. It becomes, not an institutional or corporate application, but a personal learning center, where content is reused and remixed according to the student's own needs and interests. It becomes, indeed, not a single application, but a collection of interoperating applications–an environment rather than a system.

It also begins to look like a personal portfolio tool. The idea here is that students will have their own personal place to create and showcase their own work. Some e–portfolio applications, such as ELGG, have already been created. IMS Global as put together an e–portfolio specification. 'The portfolio can provide an opportunity to demonstrate one's ability to collect, organize, interpret and reflect on documents and sources of information. It is also a tool for continuing professional development, encouraging individuals to take responsibility for and demonstrate the results of their own learning'."

(Stephen Downes, 17 October 2005)

Fig.1 Andrey Nepomnyaschev, 'Six Seconds', LooksLikeGoodDesign.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
08 NOVEMBER 2009

Artefacts for understanding: a research methodology

"To understand users needs and desires we are using a variety of research and development methods from cooperative design, CSCW (computer supported cooperative work), industrial design and ethnography. Some of the methods used are cultural probes (Gaver, B. & Pacenti, E. 1999), workshops (Westerlund et al, 2003), technology probes (Hutchinson, H. et al, 2002), observation and interviews.

The cultural probe method is an open–ended self–documentation activity that in our case involved taking photos and video as well as writing diaries. These would hopefully reveal more of the individuals' preferences, desires, context and needs. This would be done much with the users' own categorizations.

Technology probes were invented to collect information of how users would use, to them a not known shared communication artefact. The technology probes are based on well–known technology, they should be easy to use and open–ended. Technology probes combines the social science goal of collecting data about the technology use in a real–world setting, the engineering goal of field–testing technology and the design goal of inspiring users and designers.

The workshops themselves included several methods, like brainstorming, building scenarios, video–prototyping, low–tech prototyping, etc (interLiving, 2003). Instead of general descriptions that are reduced and without detail, we focus on actual descriptions of real situations that make sense to the family members. These descriptions should cover the whole context of the situation. We encouraged the group to think of communication situations that would have been problematic. From that they made scenarios, both written and drawn, but most importantly stage it and videotape it. Through videotaped scenario iterations they refined their design ideas."

(Sinna Lindquist & Bosse Westerlund, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden)

Lindquist, S. & B. Westerlund (2004). "Artefacts for understanding", Working Papers in Art and Design Vol 3 Retrieved from URL http://www.herts.ac.uk/artdes/research/papers/wpades/vol3/bwfull.html ISSN 1466–4917

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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