You know I appreciate the spirit and enthusiasm of the 'bootstrapping' way. I also personally don't think it is going to work for the vast majority of web users. The reason FOAF and XFN have not taken off is that they don't really deal with privacy and personal preferences of the people in those networks.
I like most women can't be in the skype directory.
REALLY? you ask.
Yes this is true.
Because we get skype stalkers. Our personal information being available in very public places well makes us vulnerable.
I appreciate the young male hacker bootstrapers who believe we can just put it all in 'simple' microformats and have it "work". I think they are being naive and overly simplistic about the complexity of me and my persona's and my contexts and the nature of the social links I have with my 'friends.'
I hope we can talk about ways to achieve some of the goals I think we all share but don't expose me and my friends in ways I don't want to be at IIW the first week of December.
While I agree with your concerns, I believe that if and when this picks up properly, most people will probably end up setting up a linked-in type of system where you decide how much information you want to share with who. This should enable you to protect your information from the anonymous world of the net, and it would enable your real and virtual friends to benefit from microformats, openID and whatever else is around and yet to come. Anything else would be worrying indeed.
I think we are agreeing. To my knowledge there is no way with simple microformats to decide how much information you want to share with who. It is all just out there in HTML and if someone has you in their network and they export it in that format - where ever they take it well
1)you don't know where it went
2) you don't know who they are sharing it with
3) Their terms of service etc.
When someone can explain to me these functionalities working in a scaleable way across social network contexts I will 'believe' until then I just don't see it working.
I have been a fan of XRI/XDI from early on because they are more complex open standards that could allow me to state clearly who can have access to what information about me with in the protocol. They are actually in use by a network of women highly concerned about who has access to their data and under what terms. La Leache League International (this it the breast feeding mothers of the world) is using them to have SSO and data sharing throughout its network.
COMMENT FROM CHRIS MESSINA:
Hmm, of all the formats for specifying relationships (there aren't
that many) XFN is probably the one most widely deployed. However,
that's besides the point.
The format that represents the relationship should not control access,
and so you're actually talking about two orthogonal issues. For
example, the photos that you store in a webpage using the img tag
don't specify who can see them; that's a higher order issue that is
done with server-level controls.
I think XFN is definitely part of the solution, along with OAuth --
which can sheer off parts of your identity profile and list of
relationships for different parties, putting it completely under your
control what data is shared with whom.
As it is now, there are few applications that actually support what
you're talking about in terms of giving you fine grained control over
your relationship lists... It's something that I hope is coming down
the pipe but is not something that has to do with the format; instead
it's all about consistent citizen-centric access controls over their
UPDATE from DRUMMOND REED:
He explains on his blog more about XRI / XDI and how they work to solve the problem of information sharing and portability.
COMMENT FROM LION KIMRO:
I often wonder: "Is life better when people refuse to share their
I understand why we do it, but I am not convinced that the answer is yes.
Asymmetry is a problem, but I want to understand more about the
stalkers, accountability, and changing concepts of justice, before I
commit myself one way or the other.
I use my real name in all places online. When we have better
technologies of search and aggregation, I will be distrustful of
people with blank spots in their online presence. Is this good or
bad? I don't know.
"You want the truth? You can't handle the truth." Well, maybe we
will grow, as a planet. I am open to that.
See also: Say Everything