Machine Readable Socialite

Well you’ve heard the story, Google launched the Social Graph API. Google searches and indexes all the social connections on the web and opens it up through an API, so that any web service can ask Google who you are and who you know. Like in Google search, a web crawler reads your web site, finds your public personal information, and stores it in a Google database. More specifically, when you add rel="me" to the links for your accounts in social web services and rel="friend" to the links for your friends’ website, you become a machine readable socialite.

This is definitely an industry cranking step, but it disappointing to see it as a centralized Google API rather than an open distributed system that anyone can host. Here I would like to look at what it means for different actors of the web:

  • Users – When you sign up to a new social web service, you will get a recommendation: “12 of your friends are also using this service, add them as friends.” No more search for who is in.
  • Service Providers – Provide more context to the new users, know what other things they use, what else they focus on. Monetize based on their interests.
  • Google – As the aggregator, store all the social connections between people and capitalize on the massive trust network (see the edge types and 50,000 queries per day limit).

I agree that Social Graph API has more potential for user control and empowerment than in Facebook like closed models, but here I think Google uses brute force. We know that all that public FOAF, XFN data are collectable and servable through an API (I guess mybloglog has been doing it), but it is a huge cost to index and serve all that data. Should we applause this informational brute force achievement or should we focus on open/distributed solutions for the same problem?

For me being exploited is not a big deal, I am against it, I experiment with it, I’ve already disclosed my financials to the whole world with the MYPOCKET project (see what I’ve bought yesterday and what might I buy tomorrow). So I’ve just added a list of MACHINE READABLES on the side bar of this blog to experiment with this new system.

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