Becoming a Node on the Social WAN

Whether they realize it or not, when people talk about a “social network,” they’re talking about a social LAN. All the profiles in Facebook or MySpace or Orkut or wherever are on the same network – they’re Local. What we need to be thinking about and putting in place is a social WAN – a fully distributed system where everyone completely controls their own profile, friends, and other data, and these are pushed out to the edges of the networks.

As per my last post, several of us are trying to understand how to make this work with existing tools. The redesign of my blog (which uses WordPress 2.3.3) is a first nod in this direction – the site now includes Status (via Twitter Tools), a Friends list (XFN-enabled), a Mini-feed of what my friends are doing (this should be so much easier! I had to use Yahoo Pipes and Feedburner), some applications I use (via FriendFeed), plus a Facebook-like theme.

The SWAN (Social WAN) notion is that we should all be able to find each other, become friends, write on each other’s walls, etc., from within our own blogs, hosted wherever we like. As I said before, we can start by replicating basic Facebook functionality first (to prove it can work), and then building out from there…

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