Aug 12 2009

Activity Streams

A couple months ago, I watched David Recordon's presentation at Webstock 09 on Vimeo. He covered a lot of ideas about how to build a better open social web.

A quick Google search on Recordon lead me to the Diso Project website, which aims to "facilitate the creation of open, non-proprietary and interoperable building blocks for the decentralized social web." The DiSo Project lead me to a blog post from Chris Messina about Activity Streams.

From the Activity Stream draft spec:

For the purpose of this specification, an Activity is a description of an action that was performed (the Verb) at some instant in time by some actor (the Subject see Section 6.1 (Feed Subject)), usually on some social object (the Object). An Activity Feed is a feed of such Activities.

Facebook and MySpace have already adopted Activity Streams as the standard way to disperse users' activity data out to the web.

What Facebook and MySpace are doing is a great first step, but the usefulness of this format would be completely realized if we could work towards something like what Chris Messina described in his blog post (i.e., "consume activities based on human-readable content types, rather than by the service name on which they were produced"). Meaning, it wouldn't matter where you uploaded your photo, posted your blog or updated your status, we could all follow each other independently of which network we were on. Sure, this is like what FriendFeed now offers, but as Messina said, we could offer this without "hardcoding support" for the myriad social networks' API or feed format. It would just be up to the individual services to build in support for Activity Streams (which is merely a beefed up Atom feed).

This may be another pie-in-the-sky movement for the social web, but this is the first one (since Microformats) I've seen that looks useful.

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