I've been sitting here today reading tweets and posts from folks preparing for tomorrow's twit-out as they try to synchronize their twitter and friendfeed / jaiku / pounce / brightkite / other messaging platform lists and it's occurred to me that we've created nightmare when it comes to managing our social graphs, the process of re-adding all your friends / buddies / people you follow / etc is painful at best and impossible at worst. As I join new services I find myself bouncing into my favorite followers websites, friendfeed, etc to see if they have mentioned using whatever the new service is. To be honest a good part of the reason people don't leave twitter is they don't need to recreate their social graph elsewhere.
Some people felt that friendfeed would solve this problem (I know I did). Where friendfeed has helped aggregate the feeds of folks I follow, it hasn't made it any easier to cross pollinate folks. It often irks me that friendfeed doesn't query the APIs of the services I've subscribed to to find my followers and offer to subscribe me.
In many respects, where it's in a service's best interests to help you find your friends on that service, it's not at all in their best interests to help other services help you find your friends which might be part of the reason that this has gone on fixed so far.
Both XFN and FOAF have not lived up to their potential. Both ideas were setup to help document people's relationships and properly implemented they could work. The problem is that very few folks have embraced FOAF and XFN. Also, for the average user implementing either technology isn't as easy as we technologists and early adopters think it is (often a problem with technology).
So, how do we solve this? I think we need a service to serve as a directory (or web 2.0 style phone book) where you could look up folks by service. On the service you build a profile that will export as XFN and FOAF. The service would also help you find people you follow in new services.
A quick list of features as I see it is as follows:
- As mentioned above the ability to create a profile win with links to all of your services.
- Using the available APIs of the services as well manual data entry create a global friends lists / followers lists.
- Embrace both XFN and FOAF and make the data available in those formats.
- The ability to find your friends on other services (in other words you'd be able to find my flickr page by searching for my twitter username).
- Automagiclly notify you (via email or rss, perhaps) when interweb friends newly join services that you subscribe to.
- The ability to add friends it finds using the services' APIs.
Once this is all together I'd like to also see about pushing the web 2.0 services to accept a common XML format to add friends in bulk. I've got more of an application design in my head but don't have much time. I'd love to chat more with folks if someone's interested in working on it. If done right this shouldn't be an intensive application .
So, what do you think?