A recent W3C Workshop highlighted the challenges and opportunities with the evolving social web. I was heartened by the recognition that somebody needs to step into this arena and provide some level of standards, or the plethora of social networking sites will get even more confusing. From the conclusions:
- Given the growing number and maturity of data interoperability formats and protocols, there is a significant opportunity for social networks to reduce the detrimental effects of architectural silos by opening their closed communities for the benefit of users. Totally distributed social networking is a possible future scenario.
A W3C Incubator Group will review and map the data interoperability technologies available, including technologies developed outside the W3C, to identify potential gaps and illustrate how to use these technologies together, supported by an open source implementation of a decentralized architecture.
- There is a significant risk level and a lack of awareness among users surrounding the risks associated with social networking activity and social media publishing.
Work on privacy best practices, both for users and providers, and further interaction with the existing W3C Policy Languages Interest Group, will continue the discussions on the preservation of privacy.
- Context is playing a large and increasingly important role in the social networking industry. Context has many elements and sources which at this time are poorly understood and managed (by users or the providers of social networks).
The existing W3C work on deepening the integration of sensors and user contexts in the Web will be fed by specific use cases and requirements of social networks providers, as part of an incubator group.
- Many future business opportunities are (or will soon be) stifled by the lack of a convention and/or widely adopted protocol for the exchange of value for goods and services within communities.
The revival of past work or initiation of new work on a micropayments protocol, seen as an important enabler for the social networking industry, will be explored as part of an incubator group.
- There is need for specific outreach on social network feature/service accessibility and mobility matters to address the disparity between current implementations of social networks and the devices or capabilities of all users of the Web.
The relevant W3C groups will be informed of the need for specific outreach on accessibility and mobility matters for social networking.