Social networks are sprouting like weeds. I don’t know about you, but I groan every time I get a burst of invitations from the latest network du jour. I usually ignore them, but I know I’m missing out on good conversations with my early adopter friends.
I’ve always wanted just one profile and friend list, in one place, to connect to friends anywhere. Email already does this; why can’t social networking?
The short answer is, it can. The OStatus suite of federation protocols (Salmon, ActivityStreams, etc.) is the leading contender right now. It hasn’t been adopted by any of the majors yet, but I expect many will gradually start supporting it, similar to OpenID and OAuth.
Some won’t, though. Facebook‘s track record with open standards and data is mixed at best, and their reputation isn’t much better. Their API, however, is comprehensive enough that third party apps could easily implement bridges and even fully federated protocols like OStatus.
Given that, it’s odd that I can’t find anyone who’s done this yet. I can think of a few reasons, namely the ban hammer and the fact that individual users would need to opt in. Is there a bigger reason I’m missing? Are the stakeholders pushing for official support instead, or focusing on more feasible targets, or just too busy?
I’ve started hacking on this a bit in my spare time. Drop me a line if you’re interested in helping!