There’s been a lot of interest lately in social software. A related phenomenon is the way the Internet can make social networks explicit.
I like playing around with this. I recently created a FOAF file (see my badge-zone). And there’s a brilliant “FOAF explorer” (where you can see I really need to flesh mine out).
One problem with FOAF is that it’s nerdy, and while I think it’s a good approach, not everyone will bother putting FOAF files on their websites (oh wait–not everyone even has a website). Friendster answers that–it approximates FOAF’s functionality, but lets the user sign in and point to friends rather than post a file with arcane formatting. It would be nifty if Friendster could read FOAF files, and conversely, if Friendster had an interface for feeding information into FOAF files.
None of this is particularly new. Six degrees did roughly the same thing as Friendster back in 1995, I think. But the Internet is big enough that network effects make the idea more viable. It’s also interesting trolling through Friendster–so far, the only friends I’ve found in there are part of my fire-freak circle of friends, so all the same faces keep popping up. It would be interesting to find someone from a different circle there and be the point of intersection between circles.
Seems that Ben Hammersly had the same idea.