Tag Archive for 'OpenID'

Web Technology: Impact on Social Media and Community

In a recent Wired News Article, 6 New Web Technologies of 2008 You Need to Use Now, Michael Calore talks about several web technologies that are already important for social media and online communities, but will continue to be increasingly important in 2009.

Identity Management. With all of the buzz behind OpenID, Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect in 2008, will we finally be able to better integrate our profile data, friend lists, and other identity data to be able to better manage our information in 2009? While the big social networks have already been looking at ways to implement these technologies, smaller and niche social networks and communities (including corporate communties) will need to start thinking about them in 2009. How will you make it easier for your members to join a community while bringing any appropriate identity information along with them?

Lifestreaming. Most of us have accounts on dozens of different sites, so services like FriendFeed have been popping up to help pull our updates and those of our friends into a single stream where they can be more easily consumed. Does your niche social network or corporate community have an rss feed of each member’s activity and have you encouraged them to add this feed to their FriendFeed account?

Location Awareness. I spend quite a bit of time thinking about interesting ways to use location information as a part of my work with Shizzow. For me, location awareness is all about merging our online identities with real world interactions with real people. While it might be interesting to know that a friend of mine is visiting some exotic far away city, I am more interested in being able to find friends right now to get together for coworking, tea, or a couple of drinks at happy hour. How can you use location information to help your community members get together in the real world for meetups?

I hope this provides a little food for thought as you think about your social media and online community plans for 2009.

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New and Slightly Improved

I finally had some time this weekend to work on a bunch of things that I have been wanting to do with my blog. The short status is:

  • WordPress 2.5 / K2 Upgrades = Success
  • Administration Improvements = Success
  • hCard = Success
  • OpenID delegation = Success
  • OpenID plugin for comments = Fail

WordPress 2.5

The biggest task was the upgrade to WordPress 2.5 (2.5.1 really). I’ve been putting this off partly because it is a lot of work for me and partly because I had to wait for K2 official support for WordPress 2.5, which was released a couple of weeks ago. I played around with some nightly builds before that, but none of them seemed as stable as I would have liked, so I decided to wait for official support.

The reason it takes so much time for the upgrade is that I’ve done a bit of hacking on the php files for K2 without doing much documentation, so it took me a while to sort out what I had changed. I also took the time in this version to carefully comment begin / end statements using a consistent search string. Now, for the next big upgrade, I can easily search the files for that string to find all of my tweaks.

I also had to do a bit of work on my custom css overrides in a few places where K2 made new changes.

Luckily, I have a pretty good setup on my MacBook with a local php/mysql/wordpress install where I can do most of the testing, breaking, and fixing without disrupting the blog, so the blog should have been up most of the morning despite my working on it for 6+ hours.

Administration Improvements

I installed the WordPress Database Backup (wp-db-backup), and scheduled weekly backups. My hosting provider does nightly backups, but I thought it would be a good idea to have my own backups. It will also make it easier for me to do backups prior to installing plugins / upgrades / etc., which I have been doing manually prior to installing the plugin.

I also used the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin to perform the upgrades. I love this plugin!

hCard

I really needed to get some proper contact information on my blog, and I decided that hCard would be a good way to do it, and it gave me an excuse to play with microformats. Now, people can see my contact info, machines can read it, and you can add it to your address book with a simple click.

OpenID delegation

I finally got around to setting up Fast Wonder Blog as a delegate for my OpenID account at ClaimID. Not having this earlier was sheer laziness on my part.

OpenID plugin for comments

Grrrrr. OK, this one was a big fail for me. I tried a bunch of stuff, but I kept running into one pesky error that was not occurring in my local environment. I installed wp-openid, and it worked great in my local environment, but on my hosted production copy of the blog, I kept getting this:

Fatal error: Call to undefined function: error() in /home/content/f/a/s/fastwonderblog/html/wp-content/plugins/openid/store.php on line 134

I tried commenting out the error to rule out an issue with the error message itself, I re-built database tables, uninstalled / reinstalled, activated / deactivated all with no luck. I’m hoping I can get Chris or Will to take a look at the error report and suggest a fix. I’d love to have OpenID support, but it looks like it isn’t in the cards for me today.

Portable Social Networks session at sxsw

Here are my relatively raw notes from the session with David Recordon, Chris Messina, and others.

People are tired of re-creating our data and friend lists on every new sites. We need to make it easier to move content from one site to another. Every website starts from scratch instead of building on things you have already created. This is why Facebook apps have been so successful – you can use the apps with your existing friends and existing information.

You don’t necessarily want all of the same friends on every service, and you don’t want to impose your new apps / sites on all of your friends by flooding them with friend requests. You may also want to message people on other services and integrate with various services so that you can use the sites you like, your friends use the ones they like, and both can still communicate and share information between them.

Who owns your friends email addresses? Do you have a right to port your friends email addresses from Facebook to Plaxo? You want to be able to contact your friends and easily find their email addresses without violating the privacy of your friends.

Terminology is getting confusing for people. Social networking, social graph, etc. The web is way more than terminology, it is really about the people and the experiences. Should we be using the terminology “friends”? Are these people your “friends”, are they contacts, etc.? There are many more interesting ways to frame it around actions (Dopplr with fellow travelers).

Contacts can be imported by giving them your email address and *password*. Do you really want to do this? Does it set users up to be phished?

Google released an address book api that can be used to get your contacts without giving away your email address and password.

Building blocks exist today to build portable social networks:

  • hCard can be used to import contact information from other public services into another service. The point is to make it like magic: let them know what it does, what information would be shared, and how it will be used without necessarily confusing normal users with the terminology (leave it as a link or on an about page). Focus on explaining what you are doing for the user and not necessarily how you are going to do it. Also need to give people the option to only pull in certain contacts – just the ones that you want on a particular service.
  • Need better ways to validate which accounts belong to a friend by following a trail of links. Is the David Recordon on Twitter the same one as the one on Facebook. Once you can specify your accounts and your friends accounts, you can also focus on using the same methods to bring in additional content and information. You are already creating the information, but adding some additional annotation around it makes it easier to find and make the data portable. Google social graph api is one way to do this – all based on public data.
  • Enabling trust on the web with OpenID – you already have these accounts on the web, and OpenID is a good method of verifying your identity. You can use it to log in now and say who you are. If you have other profile information in your hCard, then the other site can discover it. But maybe you only want to share certain information.
  • OAuth is more about authorization than authentication. Authorizing access to your resources using tokens to sign messages, like what you do with Flickr uploader by going to the Flickr site to log in and give the uploader authorization to access your photos. OAuth is really important for giving control to certain websites without giving them access to your username and password, which on Google would give them access Google Checkout in addition to mail / contacts. You can also revoke the tokens and not have to change your password to revoke access. A lot of the big players are moving in this direction.

These ideas are a big part of the evolution of the web. It will be difficult, but it’s a bit of tough love in the meantime.

Fast Wonder Community Podcast: Data Portability and Social Networking in Online Communities with Scott Kveton

I just published the 5th Fast Wonder Community Podcast today: Data Portability and Social Networking in Online Communities with Scott Kveton. Scott and I discussed a variety of topics related to online communities including data portability, OpenID, and social networking. Listen to the podcast to hear the entire discussion.

If you have any suggestions for people you would like to see interviewed on a future podcast, please let me know!

You can also subscribe to the Fast Wonder Community Podcast via RSS or iTunes.

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Episode 5: Data Portability and Social Networking in Online Communities with Scott Kveton

In this podcast, I talked to Scott Kveton, who was kind enough to take 15 minutes out of atttending OpenID DevCamp to record this interview via Skype. We talked about how the impact of data portability and other open technology standards are influencing the way that we think about online communities. Scott is currently on the board of the OpenID Foundation and is the Open Technology lead at MyStrands where he does a lot of their community work. You can learn more about Scott by visiting his blog.

Download:
Data Portability and Social Networking in Online Communities with Scott Kveton
(mp3)

If you are doing something really cool with your online community, please let me know! I am open to suggestions for potential interviews.

You can also subscribe to the Fast Wonder Community Podcast via iTunes.

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Google, Facebook and Plaxo Join the DataPortability.org Party

The DataPortability Workgroup dropped a bombshell this morning by announcing:

the inclusion of Joseph Smarr (Plaxo), Brad Fitzpatrick (Google) and Benjamin Ling (Facebook) to the DataPortability Workgroup.

Quoted from: Chris Saad (one of the drivers behind dataportability.org) on the Particls.Blog

Marshall Kirkpatrick added some additional insight into this announcement on ReadWriteWeb:

The non-participation of Google and Facebook, two companies that hold more user data and do more with it than almost any other consumer service on the market, was the biggest stumbling block to the viability of the project. These are two of the most important companies in recent history – what’s being decided now is whether they will be walled-garden, data-horders or truly open platforms tied into a larger ecosystem of innovation with respect for user rights and sensible policies about data.

If these industry titans can put aside their rivalry and work together – magic could happen. Hopefully they can work appropriately with the other members of the working group, bleeding edge consultants and representatives of smaller and in many cases more user-centric companies. If so, perhaps we can move appropriately into a future of powerful personalization and logically augmented activity online – while avoiding Minority Report-style dystopian scenarios.

Innovation on the internet is in its early, early days. The participation of representatives from Google and Facebook in this initiative could prove key in the continued development of what’s possible, instead of the early suffocation of what could have been.

Quoted from ReadWriteWeb

I have blogged here many times about the idea of online identity, but the potential for data portability that has been more of hope than a reality until now. I already use ClaimID as my primary OpenID provider. Ideally, I would love to manage my identity through an OpenID provider of my choice, but with more options to carry some of my data around the internet along with this identity. I hope to eventually be able to have a centrally managed picture, bio, profile information, and more that I can choose to share with online social networking sites (like Facebook) allowing me to maintain better control over my information and manage changes. Changing basic information (job change, phone number, etc.) can be a really labor intensive task for me. I remember going through this recently when I joined Jive in May. I would be willing to bet that you can still find old profiles on web 2.0 sites that still have me listed as working at Compiere or even Intel!

Data portability is one of the biggest problems that web 2.0 companies and users face, and I have been following dataportability.org with interest, but a healthy amount of skepticism. With the addition of Google and Facebook, I have much more confidence that we will start to see this hope move closer to the reality of data portability over time.

Jive has been focused for years on building our products using existing standards, and we are excited about what this might mean for Clearspace and other products. You can read Sam Lawrence’s perspective on this discussion and what it might mean to Jive over on the Jive Talks blog.

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OpenID 2.0

Last week, the final version of OpenID 2.0 was released. Chris Messina has a great post highlighting those companies who said they would adopt and support OpenID but have not, companies who should support it, and companies already embracing OpenID.

I’m a huge fan of OpenID, especially for online applications. If you don’t already support OpenID, now would be a great time to start!

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