Interviewed for Data Portability article on /; SIOC mentioned

I was interviewed recently as part of an article by Juan Carlos Perez for PC World about Data Portability, talking about synergies with SIOC (the article has since been syndicated by many media outlets including the Washington Post).

I think Juan wrote a balanced article which outlines the main goals of the initiative and addresses the worries that some companies are still unsure of what to expect. Since DP is just a few months old, it is therefore impressive that companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Plaxo and Digg are getting involved at this early stage.

For those who are unaware of the initiative, the working group was recently established to look at ways in which data can be ported from one social media service to another. For example, one of their sample scenarios involves using the YADIS communications protocol to discover an identity for a particular person, which then returns a YADIS / XRDS document indicating which identities that person prefers to use and what services those identities are held on. Then, the WRFS abstraction model can be used to find out what containers the returned identities hold on those services.

SIOC is an ideal representation method for describing all content created by a person (via their user accounts) on various social media sites and the structure contained therein (see my previous post). One of the problems with combining social media data is in knowing exactly what accounts the user holds on different social media sites. As mentioned, YADIS / XRDS / WRFS can be used for discovery purposes, and the combination of the FOAF and SIOC vocabularies is particularly well suited to describe a person’s social network profile, their user accounts and the content items created using those accounts in various containers.

Yet SIOC is more that just a way to represent personal containers of data. I think that another task for the workgroup is to discuss what methods can be used to port not just personal sets of data but whole sets of community data – especially for niche groups. SIOC was initially created to provide a way to describe the content from online communities (mailing lists, message boards, etc). While it was soon used for people’s blogs and more recently for other personal sets of Web 2.0-type content items, it has the concepts needed to describe the structure and contents of a community site as a whole. If someone runs a community site, and they decide that they want to port their group from one place to another, SIOC can be used to describe the structure (and content if combined with other vocabularies) of most community sites in order to re-create it on a different information system.

(Edit: The related workshop on social network portability will be held in Cork on the 2nd of March 2008.)

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