UnifiedSocialXG

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If you would like information about upcoming teleconferences, see SocialWebTeleconferences.

Introduction

Social networking is a complex, large and rapidly expanding sector of the information economy. The impacts of emerging social networking tools are today and, in the future will continue to be, far-reaching. For example, user-generated content is causing changes in the traditional content/media industry structure. In the future, community features could be an integral part of all digital (Web and other) experiences — from education and information/publishing to business and entertainment.

Users of social networking are as diverse as the human race. They vary widely in their needs and their skills, their means and willingness to pay. The services provided must match or exceed expectations without creating "walled gardens" such as were once commonplace on the Internet. Users should be able to publish (contribute) to their diverse communities from any device, to consume social media and ancillary social services from any device, and to decide and control the conditions (circumstances) under which others will have access to any, some or all of their personal data.

Those providing software or services for social media and social networking users, or adding social networking features to existing Web services, must anticipate a future in which every information (data) consumer is also an information provider, in which "social service engines" or network servers(search, comparison, transaction negotiation, automatic metadata annotation for contextual data insertion or other value added services) are also requesting and providing unique data or data streams under very specific terms and conditions, and where those seeking to do harm are prepared to use any method to mask their identities and intents, and to penetrate and manipulate user data repositories for financial or other illicit gains.

A community of software architects, providers of fixed-, converged- and mobile networks, value added services and the managers/operators of existing and future social networking services, and other interested parties (governments, financial institutions, advocates for a wide variety of principles) are, by way of this incubator group, beginning to work together to chart the many needs and requirements of social networking futures, and to anticipate and resolve barriers to growth and stability of social networking by way of group debate and discussion, research and publications.

The W3C is providing this forum to exist in the form of the Unified Social Incubator Group (temporary name while we vote for a new one).

Table of Contents


Charter

The mission of the Unified Social Incubator Group (temporary name while we vote for a new one), part of the Incubator Activity, is to:

  • properly frame the questions which need to be asked/answered about social networking/social web usage and management in an open multidisciplinary forum,
  • to conduct rigorous research leading to documentation (mappings) on current open issues and future problems identified by the members of this forum,
  • to debate the architectural strategies and even philosophical ramifications of particular strategies,
  • to prototype possible solutions to present and/or anticipated challenges, and
  • to publish reports to the W3C members and/or the public at large on the challenges the forum has been mandated to examine.

Development of standards is not envisioned and their development would not be considered the mission of the present group. However, if during the course of this group's activity, development of standards is found useful or necessary, it is this group's mission to report on the situation and work towards the creation of the appropriate structures to conduct such standardization work.

End date
Confidentiality
Initial Chairs
Initiating Members
Usual Meeting Schedule

Volunteers

In chronological order of expression of availability.

For XG Chairing

  • Harry Halpin
  • Krishna Sankar, Cisco
  • Tim Anglade, af83
  • Danny Ayers
  • Renato Iannella
  • Claudio Venezia, Telecom Italia
  • <your name here>

See the | W3C Role of the Group Chair document to understand the requirements of this role.

Editors Without a Deliverable

  • <your name here>

Task Forces

The work of the incubator group will be divided into task forces in order to focus group member activity on specific achievable goals. It is not required that all task forces begin at the start of the incubator's approval by the W3C. There may be delays either due to lack of appropriate leader or contributors, or lack of time on behalf of the workgroup's members.

Landscape Task Force

At this time social networking technical activities are underway in many different industry groups and consortia. At the same time, there remain many topics with little or no coverage (no one is paying attention). The incubator group's participants, and the W3C members, need a "bird's eye view" of social networking developments in order to identify appropriate areas for work.

The objective of this task force is to put in place a living framework and resource which tracks the activities to be started, those underway, those which have been concluded in the domain.

It is also a vehicle by which to prioritize work as well as to identify partnerships.

Mission

The mission of the W3C Social Networking/Social Web Landscape Task Force is to research and to frame all relevant industry technology initiatives and needs into well-defined and interlocking (broad and deep) pieces (a matrix framework) such that future work by the W3C on specific segments can be done while not losing the context of a large and comprehensive perspective.

Leaders

<your name here>

Approach

The members of this task force will research and populate an open and public resource with the contributions and input of members of any/all other task forces.

Deliverables

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Privacy and Trust Task Force

Trust and privacy are important in social networks, unfortunately most social network users are not aware of the risks and implications of their activities in social networks.

Mission

This task force will explore how specific approaches to ensuring user and user data privacy and trust can improve the security and reduce risks of users.

This task force is also responsible for the development of best practices recommendations on privacy in social networks.

Topics to be addressed include:

  1. Using an external login (ex: third party single login) to access multiple services would promote decentralization and solve some usability issues. (ex: OpenID is one possibility)<-- is this a user experience topic?
  2. Decentralization of identification would also promote identity diversity under the control of user. Some users might want to have different identities depending on the networks they are using or even two different personae on the same network (ex: professional and personal accounts). <--this should be done in collaboration with distributed architectures task force?
  3. Users of a service need to know the access policy of their data, be other users, the developers of the service itself, and the operators. Access granularity has made progress but is still underdefined. (ex: OAuth is a good step in that direction.)
  4. Knowing the data integrity and data origin is crucial in decentralized environments. The respect of user expectation on data quality helps to create trust and help to create system where privacy is enforced.

Due to the relatively low level of awareness by users and the high degree/opportunity for mis-use of private information in the future the development of a set of best practices guidelines aimed specifically at educating end users is considered a high priority for this task force.

Another set of Best Practices on privacy would focus on the policies which social networking platform providers, community operators and network operators can implement in their infrastructure to protect the privacy of their community members’ data and lives.

Leaders

Krishna Sankar <your name here>

Approach

TODO

Notes:

a) We might not need to work on all documents simultaneously - quality before quantity.

b) I think, one use case and one best practices document, per TF, might be sustainable than the current 4 docs. I assume there is some logic behind the distribution. Have a proposal below for two documents - a use-case doc and a best practices doc.

Deliverables

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Proposal for a set of simplified Deliverables

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Business Task Force

At present social networking businesses come in all sizes and have a wide range of approaches to the building of the communities (attracting users), to the policies they have for managing users and services, and to the business models they use.

Without considering the economic ramifications of the proposed decentralization of social networks on businesses, proposed technology adoption could be slow and experience heavy resistance, possibly failing to achieve its goals. One of the questions before this task force is to explore how/what business models are available for companies which are participating in a decentralized social networking ecosystem.

Mission

The first area of interest will be to document and to compare the existing methods of social network measurement, to establish widely accepted business terms for use in describing social network activity and to map these into the future to better understand how social networking market dynamics can be quantified.

The group will propose metrics and benchmarks for appropriate expression of social network size, activity level and value.

Some relevant position papers on these topics were submitted to the Workshop on the Future of Social Networking(See links below.)

Leaders

Christine Perey, PEREY Research and Consulting <your name here>

Approach

The first task of the participants in this area will be to build a lightweight, open information repository containing the research conducted by the task force on the diversity and popularity of metrics used to quantify/measure community dynamics, activity, size and value. A benchmark assessment (are there benchmarks?) will also be performed.

The task force will write a section of its report explaining the industry's requirements for consistent measurements, the weaknesses of existing metric systems, and will analyze the directions in which the domain of business metrics communities could be improved for the benefit of monetization, investment, as well as for the users of social network and social web technologies.

Through conference calls, surveys, the mailing list for this group and the preparation of a final report on the Community Metrics in use at the time of publication and most likely scenarios for the future will be communicated to the XG members and the members of the W3C.

The task force will explore development of a primer for use by businesses wishing to utilize social media and social networks (aka "Best Business Practices") but it is not one of the XG's deliverables at the time of preparation of the charter.

Finally, the task force may elect to document the current concerns expressed by businesses (companies with revenue generating goals) within the XG in such a way that these can be reflected in the final XG report to the W3C.

Deliverables

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Contextual Data Task Force

Contextual awareness adds value to social networking services. Community operators can extract and leverage users' location information to provide more appropriate recommendations and to increase the satisfaction of social experiences between community participants.

Unfortunately, every platform which uses context data today is developing technology and systems independently of other context management platforms and of the community messaging and advertising platforms to which these contextual data producers are complementary.

In the past, mobile network operators controlled all contextual data on subscribers. But, recently, with GPS in devices, services have begun to capture and leverage the location information gathered and/or managed by another service. For example,one application might determine a user's location and store it on a server for other applications to access and use.

Mission

The mission of this task force is to document those principles which the task force members believe to be the appropriate use & approaches to control of abuse of contextual data in social networks.

One of the deliverables of this task force is a report mapping the current uses of context in social networking.

A best practices guide could also be envisioned, provided that sufficient experience and expertise is available.

Leaders

<your name here>

Approach

TODO

Deliverables

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TODO: Other deliverables?

User experience Task Force

User Experience involves the domains of Information Architecture, Usability, Interaction Design, Information Design and overall Ease of Use, despite any underlying technology. This is important because people don´t care about technology: they just want to do things. And they want their interactions with others via social tools and services to be easy.

Most of the people are not aware of technical terms, processes involved, or even dangers lurking in their social networks or their publication of social media on the web.

All architectures, processes, policies, practices developed by this XG should be displayed, used and understood in an easy way by any regular folk.

User experience is vital to the success of social networks, so it´s important to identify all issues before they constitute obstacles to user adoption.

Mission

  • To discover and document best practices for smoothing the user´s way through the Social Web.
  • To present information on what´s going on in an understandable way.
  • To simplify and clarify all technical processes with a clear interaction design.
  • To identify, develop and document interaction and information patterns suitable to be quickly adopted by Social Web sites/platforms.
  • To identify and document best navigation and interaction practices suitable and possible both for desktop and mobile devices.
  • To identify and document bad usability issues that could harm the overall user´s experience.

Leaders

AlbertoSanJose

Approach

Every solution proposed by this XG, when not invisible for the user, should be tested with wireframes, interactives when needed.

A common User Experience approach includes:

  • Strategy: What are the site´s goals, and what are the user´s needs.
  • Scope: A list of what will doable within the site/app. Just the big picture to let the IT people to frame what is possible or not.
  • Structure: An information and interaction diagram of Where is What and How to reach.
  • Skeleton: A rough visual wireframe of what´s inside every page: content and navigation.
  • Surface: The final visual graphic design (not suitable for this XG´s purpose, I guess)

(source: The elements of User Experience, 16,5 KB pdf file)

This approach is worthy because it allows to apply valuable ways to communicate the findings of every expertise area to the next involved one, and to the rest of us.

Deliverables

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TODO: Other deliverables?

Interoperability Task Force

this is the previously called "data portability" / “Social Web” group

Mission

The focus will be insuring social data portability can be built on open standards and existing deployed APIs as deployed by vendors and the community. The task force will:

  • work to promote the work of other non-W3C groups working on the Social Web within the W3C and raise awareness of the landscape of Social Web technologies within the W3C.
  • survey the needs of users of social web sites, and propose use-cases for social data portability to address these needs, with a focus on social data portability and relationships of trust and privacy.
  • determine if these use-cases can be built on top of existing standards and help determine what other standards are needed.
  • Most importantly, mappings between currently widely deployed technical solutions for both users and developers will be developed on the level of semantics, with an various syntax options and even data models (XML, JSON, RDF) being capable of expressing this information. Ideally working converters in a variety of programming languages will be created for these mappings.
  • Furthermore, although more still an area for research, privacy, trust, and security concerns should be addressed and the landscape of technologies in this area will be surveyed.

Leaders

<your name here>

Approach

TODO

Deliverables

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Distributed Architectures Task Force

Today, virtual social networking is centralized. The operators of communities make promises to the community members and in order to deliver on these, must carefully manage the resources within and around the community. The operators of communities have also invested considerably in the development of their platforms and prize the uniqueness of their services and the special relationships they have with the participants of the community. While the one-vendor model of social networking has many benefits and will likely persist in the future, many envision and are calling for decentralization of community (technology, user, business) silos (as currently designed, with centralized control).

The social networking architecture of the future will have to be distributed but still open, as well as secure. The customer (user) as an exclusive property which is "owned" by a community platform (silo) operator will be a low-leverage, low appeal paradigm.

In this task force, the participants will focus on the technology components(software architecture) that will permit entirely different relationships between the user, the user's identities (personae), the social media which belongs to the user, the followers, friends and associates of the user, the definition of the "operator" of a community (and its responsibilities), and the diverse providers of virtual community-enabling systems (access networks, media publishing and storage systems).

Mission

Analyze different scenarios where the distributed architecture for the social network is an advantage.

Identify possible architectures and protocols that may lead to a sound distributed social network ecosystem.

Identify what new work has to be carried out in order to have this distributed social network implemented.

Leaders

<your name here>

Approach

Deliverables

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Target Audiences

The target audiences of the Social Networking/Social Web Incubator Group are:

  1. end users (all those who use social networks),
  2. developers of social networking platforms or technologies (e.g., software publishers),
  3. operators of social networks or social networking technologies (e.g, existing community operators, handset manufacturers), and
  4. mobile and converged (Next Generation) network operators.

TODO: Add potential additional audiences for the Interoperability and Distributed Architectures Task Forces?

Final Report

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Communications

This group primarily conducts its work on the public mailing list public-xg-socialweb@w3.org (archive). The group's Member-only list is member-xg-socialweb@w3.org (archive) In an effort to minimize costs, face to face meetings will be co-located with other meetings that a significant number of participants are attending. Regular meetings will be held monthly using the W3C's Zakim telephone/IRC facility. The mailing lists will be a primary part of the communication both internally and externally. If needed, a wiki able to be accessible and editable by all can also be maintained, and a blog could be maintained in order to let others be easily informed about the progress of the group.

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, etc.) will be available from the Unified Social Incubator Group home page (temporary name while we vote for a new one).

Participation

Members are expected to introduce themselves and participate over the public mailing list.

Members should attend teleconferences, and send regrets if unable.

The face-to-face meetings will be optional but enjoyable.

Decision Policy

As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to make decisions when there is consensus. When the Chair puts a question and observes dissent, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should record a decision (possibly after a formal vote) and any objections, and move on.

This charter is written in accordance with Section 3.4, Votes of the W3C Process Document and includes no voting procedures beyond what the Process Document requires.

Patent Policy

This Incubator Group provides an opportunity to share perspectives on the topic addressed by this charter. W3C reminds Incubator Group participants of their obligation to comply with patent disclosure obligations as set out in Section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy. While the Incubator Group does not produce Recommendation-track documents, when Incubator Group participants review Recommendation-track specifications from Working Groups, the patent disclosure obligations do apply.

Incubator Groups have as a goal to produce work that can be implemented on a Royalty Free basis, as defined in the W3C Patent Policy.

Participants agree to offer patent licenses according to the W3C Royalty-Free licensing requirements described in Section 5 of the W3C Patent Policy for any portions of the XG Reports produced by this XG that are subsequently incorporated into a W3C Recommendation produced by a Working Group which is chartered to take the XG Report as an input. This licensing commitment may not be revoked but may be modified through the Exclusion process defined in Section 4 of the Patent Policy.

Participants in this Incubator Group wishing to exclude essential patent claims from the licensing commitment must join the Working Group created to work on the XG Report and follow the normal exclusion procedures defined by the Patent Policy. The W3C Team is responsible for notifying all Participants in this Incubator Group in the event that a new Working Group is proposed to develop a Recommendation that takes the XG Report as an input.

For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.

About this Charter

This charter for the Unified Social Incubator Group (temporary name while we vote for a new one). has been created according to the Incubator Group Procedures documentation. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.

Copyright © 2009 W3C ® (MIT , ERCIM , Keio), All Rights Reserved.


Related Work

W3C Groups

  • HTML 5 Working Group Proposed solutions could take advantage of HTML 5 development.
  • Policy Language Interest Group Compatibility with rules to define policy could be useful.
  • Web Security Context Working Group Assure feedback on whatever security measures are proposed from the user-end.
  • Ubiquitous Web Applications Activity Co-ordinate with their work on sharing contacts among mobile devices.
  • Semantic Web Activity To explore the usage of RDF and rules in portability and profile management.
  • POWDER Explore the possibility of exposing data that is common to multiple users and/or groups using Description Resources.
  • SPARQL Possibly use them to query multiple sources of data via JSON and RDF.
  • GRDDL A standardized low-cost deployment solutions for RDF and XML
  • eGov Improving access to government through better use of the Web. Several of their topics are aligned with ours, including “Social Media”

External Groups

  • OpenSocial API Compatibility with OpenSocial and members of the OpenSocial alliance is a goal.
  • The Diso Project has begun mapping many similar formats to Portable Contacts and we work as much as possible to track their progress and work with them. Their work is of utmost importance.
  • Social Graph API The Social Graph API should be a focus for work on social network standards.
  • Facebook API Compatibility with Facebook is a goal.
  • DataPortability Workgroup The DataPortability workgroup already has a activity in the same area, so compatibility and consultation with this group is of utmost importance.
  • OpenID OpenID allows a decentralized identity standard that would be useful to assure data reuse and interoperability remains authenticated.
  • OAuth OAuth is an open protocol to allow secure API authorization in a simple and standard method from desktop and web applications.
  • SAML SAML is an XML-based identity standard that could also assure data reuse remains authenticated.
  • Microformats XFN (XHTML Friends Network), hCard and other microformats are very relevant to this work.
  • The FOAF Project As the first semantic social networking effort, compatibility will be a goal.
  • SIOC As a comprehensive interoperability effort for social media contributions and social objects, compatibility will be a goal.
  • vCard and vCardDAV As an active IETF working group dealing with issues around personal address books and access to those directories of information, consultation with this group will be a goal.
  • Social Network Portability Group Consultation with social graph developers such as the Social Network Portability group is necessary.

Relevant Papers & Writings

Privacy & Trust

Highly relevant papers on this topic include (these must be linked to the position papers to which they refer, contents reviewed more carefully, perhaps ranked/rated in order of likelihood to furnish first draft recommendations?):

Methods of Social Network Measurement

The following position papers raise this issue: