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Re: FaceBook taking over the web, and semantic web

From: Mischa Tuffield <mmt04r@ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 28 May 2010 10:35:16 +0100
Cc: "K. Krasnow Waterman" <kkw@mit.edu>, Dan Brickley <danbri@danbri.org>, Sampo Syreeni <decoy@iki.fi>, Stephane Corlosquet <scorlosquet@gmail.com>, Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>, Matthew Rowe <m.rowe@dcs.shef.ac.uk>, semantic-web <semantic-web@w3.org>
Message-ID: <EMEW3|94b1c1fb6aca6c8812bbe86aee9c7888m4RAac06mmt04r|ecs.soton.ac.uk|FA91F20D-309D-4E8F-818A-B09BD7F3961E@ecs.soton.ac.uk>
To: adasal <adam.saltiel@gmail.com>
Hi Adam, 

Firstly, my bad for taking so long to get back to you, have been awash with things to do, and life has been a bit crazy recently (yawns at my own excuses...)

Comments inline...

On 12 May 2010, at 14:21, adasal wrote:

> High Mischa,
> I scanned through [2].
> Just spent last hour reading up on and commenting to http://kck.st/9QC2zk which is the diaspora project. What a clever, cheeky, name. (Why cheeky you may ask? em...) And now I'm a backer. There is a first time for everything!

Yeah, I have been tracking their work for a while, they seem to have done really well at extracting money out of people, good on them, any news on any code being outputted?

> The link etc. is below. I think it worth having a look at what they are trying to do, which is just to tie various existing protocols through e.g. pubsubhub asnd offer P2P and put a RonR application on top as the WGUI.

Took me ages to figure out what you meant by RonR /me tries to stay away from it (shudders).

> I wonder though, how much more is actually needed than having everything decentralised, or running through one of many hubs?
> Are semantic technologies needed beyond, maybe, the semantic representation of a profile, or maybe that is just it?

Well, without being too controversial, and I am a big fan of FOAF/RDF/SPARQL (being messing around with this stuff since 04 [when i was all young and stuff], and have built a lot FOAF related thingies [http://qdos.com/apps] at my current job at Garlik - hopefully will build more) but I don't really think that a semantic representations of a profile (FOAF doc) is where the SW community could make the most impact in the space of distributed social networks. From my POV the SW community can make the most impact by illustrating a standard way which nodes in this distributed social network can communicate with each other. By that I mean, e.g. how we do a "friend request" (which people are talking about on the foaf-protocols list [ack. henry, nathan, melvin et al {sorry if I missed anyone out}]), something like a SPARQL UPDATE request, or my favourite would be a simple ping of FOAF document (this would require the FOAF representation I guess). If the protocol between the nodes in a distributed social network worked, them people could implement their "bit" however they wished, personally I would have it run off of a triplestore, something like what I did in foaf.qdos.com, but again, if there was a standard protocol (stressing that this "protocol" should be built on top of existing standards RDF, Atom, SPARQL, XMPP, etc, etc), then you could choose to not use any SW tech in your node in this distributed social network. Danbri, mentioned libraries, libraries which would allow for nodes to talk to each, this would be ideal, and here is where I think our community could have the most impact.

> 1. There may be legal issues, especially if they allow or encourage content sharing, but even without that facility. (And how would it be stopped?)

Well, I guess you would have to state in a privacy policy what people are allowed to do with your content, perhaps P3P and/or even a CC license (data commons or whatever) on your data would allow you to state what people can do with your data - and then good will willing ... 

> 2. Only small numbers will use it, or so I think. There seems to be some appeal to being able to broadcast to all of Facebook, although it is a crazzy thing to do! Security in numbers?

So, yes, agreed broadcast to facebook is the major benefit, but the interwebs are getting faster and faster, and a P2P/XMPP type solution + some caching should allow you to have a seemless user experience when sharing private data with your friends (social network) and well public data about you on the web, will probably we indexed by Google, or Sindice or (even us at Garlik maybe;). 

Am not sure what you mean by security in numbers though, makes me think of the argument that if there is lots of data your data will get obfuscated, which i don't believe to be true. Makes me think of how hard it is to annonymise data, impossible from my POV, example of this fact including the Netflix [1] case (so sorry that I am referencing thereg post their comments re: webscience [ggaaarr]), and I recall there was a microsoft paper recently (which I can't find) where they go on about how annonymising is an impossible task. 

I hope I answered your questions, 


[1] http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/21/netflix_privacy_flap/ (hisss at thereg)

> Anyway, I would be interested in your comments about this.
> Adam
> Decentralize the web with Diaspora  Kickstarter
> Maxwell Salzberg is raising funds for Decentralize the web with Diaspora on Kickstarter! Help four talented young nerds raise money to build Diaspora, an open source personal web server to ...
> On 12 May 2010 10:39, Mischa Tuffield <mmt04r@ecs.soton.ac.uk> wrote:
> Hi All, 
> Excuse the late response, I have been thinking about the concept of practical obscurity, and how the web changes such concepts, I blogged about it a while ago [1]. A former colleague of mine Kieron O'Hara has been writing about such things for a while now, his most recent paper [2] talks about such things, and he also talks about how the digital world we are living changing notions of privacy in his book called "The Spy in the Coffee Machine" [3].
> Mischa
> [1] http://mmt.me.uk/blog/2009/08/05/privacy-web-practical-obscurity/
> [2] http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1666437&dl=GUIDE&coll=GUIDE&CFID=88061093&CFTOKEN=45481263
> [3] http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spy-Coffee-Machine-Privacy-Know/dp/1851685545
> On 10 May 2010, at 14:50, K. Krasnow Waterman wrote:
>> KKW's final comment:  I've been thinking more and more about how the web will let people grow up (or reform).  In the US, most juvenile criminal records are expunged, so a mistake made in youth does not follow you into adulthood (unless you keep making them).  And, historically, adults could move away from a home town or the site of a particularly poor error in judgment and leave it behind.  We don't yet seem to have an idea for a web corollary.    
>> From: adasal [mailto:adam.saltiel@gmail.com] 
>> Sent: Monday, May 10, 2010 9:41 AM
>> To: K. Krasnow Waterman
>> Cc: Dan Brickley; Sampo Syreeni; Stephane Corlosquet; Melvin Carvalho; Matthew Rowe; semantic-web
>> Subject: Re: FaceBook taking over the web, and semantic web
>> KKW, Dan,
>> Thanks for longer responses.
>> These are deadly serious issues which need constant monitoring from various parties. That is why these stories are in the press, not because of hype, but because in the US there is a very strong tradition of using the media to defend freedoms, one of which is the right of privacy.
>> I wont make the obvious points about this where the state effectively spies on individuals.
>> However, I was a psychotherapist and I can say that in dealing with individuals, groups and sometimes organisations, privacy is absolutely essential.
>> Certainly one would not get very far with a teenager if they didn't trust you in this regard.
>> My position is that Facebook owes a duty of care to the individuals, particularly teenagers, who use their service.
>> Some people are happy to be cavalier in this regard, others do, or, worse, will come to, feel exposed.
>> There should be ways of accommodating this in the technology, not the case at the moment.
>> Interestingly this morning for the first time I noticed the 'like mechanism' in practice, being told that two adults with whom I am 'friends' have liked certain items on Scribd. My feeling was that I was spying on them, although it was entirely innocuous.
>> People have a right to have their privacy respected and, if anything, should be encouraged to exercise that right.
>> Of course, don't do it and you'll make more work for psychotherapists, so ... it's a joke.
>> Best,
>> Adam
>> On 10 May 2010 12:08, K. Krasnow Waterman <kkw@mit.edu> wrote:
>> I agree with Dan.  Teenagers, as a group, don't have the long view.  When I
>> was younger, it was popular to slather on the baby oil and lay in the sun
>> with metal reflectors.  Teenagers didn't worry about skin cancer (or
>> wrinkles), but as they reached their 30's and 40's there were some pretty
>> serious regrets.
>> For those who didn't see it, yesterday's New York Times had a piece on folks
>> reaching that transition from "don't care" to "do care" with their web
>> presence:
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/09/fashion/09privacy.html
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: semantic-web-request@w3.org [mailto:semantic-web-request@w3.org] On
>> Behalf Of Dan Brickley
>> Sent: Monday, May 10, 2010 2:25 AM
>> To: Sampo Syreeni
>> Cc: adasal; Stephane Corlosquet; Melvin Carvalho; Matthew Rowe; semantic-web
>> Subject: Re: FaceBook taking over the web, and semantic web
>> On Mon, May 10, 2010 at 2:26 AM, Sampo Syreeni <decoy@iki.fi> wrote:
>> >  I'm also of the highly sharing kind, so I don't think they could violate
>> > my privacy even if they wanted to.
>> > They really don't have half the data I've already divulged online. I just
>> > invited my boss into my Facebook network, despite the fact that my perv
>> > friends' updates would then often be seen by him. Yet I'm having no online
>> > problem at all.
>> Be careful what you wish for!
>> People young enough to have never done anything very wrong, never had
>> serious conflict or major life disasters, often assume that their
>> future will look pretty much like the past. If their uptight boss
>> fires them, who cares, they're bright and could walk into another job.
>> If they leak private information from their crazy friends into the
>> public never-forgetting Web, ... well it's a big planet, you can
>> always make new friends. If their abusive ex-husband finds out where
>> they live from a leaked geotagged pic, there's always another city
>> they can move to, always another school that'll take on their kids....
>> Young people act more immortal than immoral, and the assumption that
>> things can only get better doesn't work out that way for everyone.
>> The biggest problem with data flow in online social networks is the
>> network bit; each participant takes responsibility not only for
>> sharing and leaking information about their own lives, but about their
>> friends, contacts, acquaintances too. The thing you should be
>> concerned about isn't so much the damage you might do to your own
>> online life by acting around so optimistically, but to others'. Every
>> random fb app you trustingly install, for example, gets to see much
>> the same information as the party who installs it; not just about you,
>> but about your friends.
>> None of us can safely predict the values and priorities of the
>> societies we'll be living in in 20-30 years. What we can predict is
>> that information about -say- youthful indiscretions will be ever
>> easier to track down, cross-reference and attach. And probably in a
>> cool 3d heads-up display setting like in the Terminator films ;)
>> Perhaps universal access to information will give a boost to some
>> older values ('He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a
>> stone at her'...), but ... well it's been a long time waiting for that
>> change in human behaviour.
>> We can't afford to be all "privacy is dead, get over it" about these
>> technologically-driven changes. Or rather, *we* probably can but we
>> most likely have friends, contacts and acquaintances who are less
>> fortunate or less technical and will pay the price of this
>> devil-may-care-ism. When you say things like "I don't think they could
>> violate my privacy even if they wanted to." you frame the discussion
>> in an overly individualistic manner that doesn't help people think
>> through the consequences of these sites sharing info about user X via
>> the settings and behaviours of user Y (for millions of values of X and
>> Y).
>> cheers,
>> Dan
Received on Friday, 28 May 2010 09:38:21 UTC

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