Social web

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The Social Web is currently used to describe how people socialize or interact with each other throughout the World Wide Web. Such people are brought together through a variety of shared interests. There are different ways in which people want to socialize on the Web today. The first kind of socializing is typified by "people focus" websites such as Bebo, Facebook, and Myspace. Such sites promote the person as focus of social interaction. To do this a profile is constructed by each user. In many ways the profile is similar to a passport.

The second kind of socializing is typified by a sort of "hobby focus" websites. For example, if one is interested in photography and wants to share this with like-minded people, then there are photography websites such as Flickr, Kodak Gallery and Photobucket.

There are also two ways in which people socialize with each other in the Social Web. The most general and most common type is always at a distance and only on the World Wide Web. In such socializing there is never face to face personal contact. Much of the socializing on Flickr is sharing of photos and making comments on the photos of others. However, where Flickr members come from a common local geographical area, then they are inclined to get together physically for a common photoshoot. This exemplifies the second type of socializing through the World Wide Web: that which leads to real physical contact. Typical examples of the latter arose historically from social networking both within and outside schools and colleges. Facebook's origins are in the facebook of college students from Harvard University.

The Social Web may also be used to refer to two different, yet related concepts. The first is as a description of web 2.0 technologies that are focused on social interaction and community before anything else. The second is a proposal for a future network similar to the World Wide Web.


[edit] The Social Web as a current description

The social web can be described as people interlinked and interacting with engaging content in a conversational and participatory manner via the Internet.[1]

Since social web applications are built to encourage communication between people, they typically emphasize some combination of the following social attributes:[2]

  • Identity: who are you?
  • Reputation: what do people think you stand for?
  • Presence: where are you?
  • Relationships: who are you connected with? who do you trust?
  • Groups: how do you organize your connections?
  • Conversations: what do you discuss with others?
  • Sharing: what content do you make available for others to interact with?

Examples of social applications include Twitter, Facebook, Stumpedia, and Jaiku.

[edit] The Social Web as a future network

The first is an open global distributed data sharing network similar to today's World Wide Web, except instead of linking documents, the Social Web will link people, organizations, and concepts.

The use of the term in this context was introduced in a July 2004 paper called "The Social Web: Building an Open Social Network with XDI". The paper explains how the introduction of a new protocol for distributed mediated data sharing and synchronization, XDI, could enable a new layer of trusted data interchange applications. The key building blocks for this layer are I-names and I-numbers (based on the OASIS XRI specifications), Dataweb pages, and link contracts.[3]

Perhaps the best analogy for the Social Web is the worldwide banking and credit card system. This infrastructure has evolved over centuries to facilitate the global exchange of a very sensitive form of data — money — by establishing a common means of exchange among trusted third party service providers — banks. The Social Web takes the same approach for exchange of private, sensitive information by establishing a common means of exchange among trusted third party service providers — i-brokers.

Earlier uses of the term include:

  • In 1998 the term "Social Web" was introduced in an article by Peter Hoschka in a related context to describe the shift from using computers and the web as simple cooperation tools to using the computer as a social medium.[4][5]
  • In 1955 the term "Social Web" was introduced by August C. Krey in the essay collection History and the Social Web published by the University of Minnesota press.[6]

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