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Executive Summary

Social networks (or the users of existing social network platforms) are breaking out of the technology silos in which they began (at least there is a desire/need to reduce silo effects). This is progress. But personal and professional networks on the Web cannot reach their true potential (as enablers of more advanced …) unless there are standards for providing (universal and distributed) Web-based services into which anyone can add new applications. The Social Web Incubator Group was founded to uncover and to document the protocols, and communities of interest which can contribute to (new or improved) protocols, which are needed to enable the Social Web. We sought, through a documentation of what is already adopted or proposed, to also identify gaps in activity or conflicts.

Over the course of the SWXG’s activity, the [approx how many?] participants on the conference calls discussed…[what?] and heard from …[how many] contributors on the topic of the Social Web. We conclude from this exercise that there is the absence of a universal Web-friendly framework for Social media and individual expression. In the course of the XG, one framework was proposed and modified in response to XG member feedback.

Further, the members of the XG conclude:

  1. the Social Web is not really the Social Web. It is a set of uses which the public has a high appetite, it is (can be) based on an amalgam of Internet technologies. To take the social web seriously as a "first-class citizen" of the Web should permit the W3C to expand its scope of operations beyond that which it has been focused in the past.
  2. the Social Web suffers not from a lack of potential standards, as a large number of diverse groups outside the W3C have created standards and potential standards that address a large number of communities, each of which has its own terminology and framework. The Social Web has not realized its full potential due to a lack of a coherent framework for communities to communicate about the Social Web, developers to understand and easily hook these standards together, and incompatibilities or simply lack of clearly defined relationships betweeen these standards.
  3. While there has been a large amount of work done in tis area so that current potential and standards address basic issues of identity and portability, but do not address more complex and vital issues of provenance and privacy, for which both more research and potential standards are needed.
  4. The creation of a decentralized and distributed Social Web as part of Web architecture is a real revolutionary opportunity to provide both increased social data liquidity and privacy simultaneously. This key to make ordinary users take advantage of a distributed and privacy-enhanced Social Web is to build identity and portability into the browser and other devices.

We respectfully recommend to the W3C:

Areas of future work in which the W3C should play a role:

  1. A standardized set of extensible social data formats (possibly in JSON, Atom, RDF, and XML) and APIs for access to this data.
  2. A coherent guideline to working with the various identity mechanisms, and building a core of these into the browser.
  3. Build the notion of provenance of data, which is crucial for distributed systems, into existing and new data formats.
  4. Begin an activity looking at distributed privacy languages that are capable of phrasing common "terms of services" and licensing information.
  5. Create a more "light-weight" and open process so that groups working on the Social Web feel welcome and can work with the W3C.

This work could form the basis of new Working Groups, improved liasoning with non-W3C efforts and standardization bodies, and increased co-ordination among existing W3C working groups.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction [~<2 pages]

        Audiences (who is meant to be served by the outcomes of the SWXG’s work?)
     	 Guiding principles of the SWXG (part of the original charter? extract)

II. State of the Social Web in 2010 [<5 pages]

        high level overview, (StateOfSocialWeb draft )
        how people are using social networks today/would be impacted by our work, Buzz, 
        we do not have a distributed social web, reference recent technical press article, 
        things are in flux (Facebook privacy), we focused on perceived needs of users. 
        What about including conclusions from Soren and Josh's work?

III. Social Web Use Cases [<5 pages]

       Status: ready for integration. Section available here:

IV. Social Web technologies [<10 pages]

       Log of contributions (guest speakers/invited guests)
       Pull this out of meeting minutes 
       We will give each of the speakers the opportunity to offer feedback

V. Technology gaps or areas where there are overlaps [<5 pages]

       Need to spend most of our time in terms of creating new content
       Create a table which summarizes where there are multiple proposals of technologies, etc

VI. Business Considerations [<2 pages]

       the purpose of this XG is not to remove or erode business cases 
       for existing companies but to promote an idea which supports the 
       new/emerging needs of businesses on the Social Web. Micropayments 
       are needed as enabler for the new Social Web.
       What are the latest thoughts around new business models based on Social Web?

VII. Conclusions and Recommendations [<3 pages]

VIII. Acknowledgments

IX. Appendices


The group was chartered to look at ". understand the systems and technologies that permit the description and identification of people, groups, organizations, and user-generated content in extensible and privacy-respecting ways. The underlying assumption of the working group has been that these systems and technology underlie what we are begging to call the Social Web.

The phenomenon of the Social Web is bigger than standards. The Social Web vision is that the familiar mechanisms of communication and interaction available through social network applications will become a

Throughout the Incubator Activity, decisions have been taken via consensus during regular telephone conferences and occasional face to face meetings.

We have deliberately taken a very broad approach in our definition of the Social Web. We have looked at a range of existing and emerging technologies and practices. Many of these are cataloged in this report. In addition, the XG has analyzed the gap between the currently available standards and what would be required in order to fulfil the social web vision. Finally, we have sought to make recommendations to W3C on what its role should be in the emerging Social Web ecosystem.


  • List of SWXG participants
  • List of presenters/speakers during meetings (organized how? Chronologically?)
  • Social Web Use Cases