Prototype for distributed / decentralised microblogging using semantics

Download the paper and get the code.

Try out our anonymous client and server demos for SMOB.

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch wrote an interesting blog post on Monday about a “decentralised Twitter”, which was picked up by Dave Winer, Marc Canter and Chris Saad amongst others.

20080512a.png I’m happy to say that we have recently described and shown how this can work. Alex has been the driving force behind a paper that we (Alexandre Passant, Tuukka Hastrup, Uldis Bojars and I) have written for SFSW 2008, demonstrating (a prototype called SMOB for) distributed / decentralised microblogging:

Microblogging: A Semantic Web and Distributed Approach

The prototype uses FOAF and SIOC to model microbloggers, their properties, account and service information, and the microblog updates that users create. A multitude of publishing services can ping one or a set of aggregating servers as selected by each user, and it is important to note that users retain control of their own data through self hosting.

The aggregate view of microblogs use ARC2 for storage / querying and Exhibit for the user interface. Security and privacy are open issues, but can be addressed in some part by requiring OpenID authentication.

The SMOB prototype code (both the semantic microblogging publishing client and server-based web service) is available here. You can install your own client and post to our demo server (set up today by Tuukka) here. There are some pictures below of it in use:

Latest updates rendered in Exhibit

Map view of latest updates with Exhibit

Global architecture of distributed semantic microbloggging

Related posts:


16 thoughts on “Prototype for distributed / decentralised microblogging using semantics”

  1. Regarding security and privacy, it turns out access control based on http passwords and ip addresses is enough for a couple of use cases. First, you can stop others from using your publishing client. Second, you can blacklist and whitelist the publishing clients whose posts will show up on an aggregating server.

  2. Cool Tuukka – so now you can both post to Twitter and maintain a self-hosted archive of your tweets in RDF – see Alex’s post at

    And why?

    [09:31:46] Hastrup, Tuukka says: all parties can extend metadata safely and in a machine-processable way
    [09:32:32] Hastrup, Tuukka says: location, hash tags, @replies to people in different services etc…
    [09:32:14] Passant, Alexandre says: you can merge them with all your SMC and retrieve it in a single query

    [SMC = social media contributions]

  3. I do trust all the concepts you have introduced for your post.
    They’re really convincing and will certainly work.

    Still, the posts are too brief for beginners. May you please prolong
    them a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

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