The Internet is basically the ur-social network and highlighting this is one of the big thrusts this year at the Web 2.0 Expo. With so many platforms and podiums from which to broadcast the minutae of our lives (as well as the glut of input from everyone you've ever spoken to once at a conference) a crucial concern becomes upping the "signal to noise" ratio -- i.e. getting your filter on. This was precisely what I took away from my inaugural open social workshop hosted by Six Apart's David Recordon, Plaxo's Joseph Smarr and Vidoop's Chris Messina, a panel that focused on aggregators and using OAuth and OpenID to put the smack down on all the data carry over from the plethora of sites we use to post our daily activities.
We talked with panelist Chis Messina and got the low down on how to do Open Social Web right.
Alexia Tsotsis: As a n00b, what do I need to know about making my social media experience more streamlined and less frustrating?
Chis Messina: We don't have a great solution to that yet largely because not only are we in the early stages of this... we haven't yet adopted a mechanism that allows us to express activities in a general way that allows us to filter those things. For example, if I want to subscribe to my friend's photos, I shouldn't have to subscribe to them on a per instance basis. It should be these are my friends and I want to see their photos, period. But because each site spits out data in a different way, the aggregators have to spend more time supporting each one.
What can I do about filtering the constant list of activities that I'm being bombarded with?
Chis Messina: Friendfeed supports a number of services, but not all of them. We recognize that it's a problem; we're going to get there. Especially for folks who are early adopters and have lots and lots of friends, it's complete overload. You can look at this in terms of information abundance -- a couple years ago we didn't have any of this data and we were in the dark about what was going on. We had a lot less passive proximity and peripheral vision to our friends. Even though it's a problem today, that problem will be rectified.
Is it a lack of foresight problem or just stupid design? Nobody thought there'd be this little thing called competition.
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Chis Messina: People did not recognize the degree to which this technology would just proliferate. And publishing, if everybody had private Twitter accounts it would not be as interesting.
If you're interested in hearing more in-depth thought about about identity and the social web (and can make it up to the SF area) you can attend a workshop put on by Messina and friends on May 18th in Mountain View. More info here.