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January 29, 2004
Eric Gradman: Distributed Social Software
From USC computer science student Eric Gradman comes a paper titled "Distributed Social Software
This is an ambitious, high-level description of how social software should really work in order to scale, preserve consistency, provide flexibility, and prevent fragmentation of the user base. The design could be summarized as "center the architecture on the individual user throughout". While I think it seriously needs fleshing out, the underlying philosophy seems right. I'm not convinced that preventing fragmentation follows directly from the scheme, though, because different open standards compete against one another and there's no guarantee that users will all embrace the same standard. Here's the abstract:
For many years email and usenet news constituted the majority of the Internet's use as a tool to facilitate communication among individuals. The last five years have given rise to a number of novel applications in this domain--which has come to be known as ``social software.'' Notable among these are instant messaging systems, weblogs, and services like Friendster and Tribe which exploit the concept of ``six-degrees of separation.''
These services generally employ centralized client-server architectures. These architectures are failing to adequately scale with the growing user-base. These services do not rely on open protocols; the user-base is fragmented among competing service providers. Users use numerous service providers to get the features they want, but have no easy way to maintain the consistency of their information on each.
This paper summarizes the ever changing state-of-the-art in social software, and presents an alternative to this ``service-centric'' view of social software. The novel user-centric distributed social software model outlined in this paper overcomes many of the limitations of the current model by drawing from ideas from the Semantic Web.
I think making things happen in this way might require many more well-coordinated, idealistic developers than are available right now. But one can always hope...
Compare: Leonard Lin
's "Next-Generation Distributed Social Software Networks: Designs and Applications
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: social software
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