Distributed social networking and distributed profiles

The nascent vision of distributed social networking imagines transparent ways of sharing profiles and friends. Is there anything in the OpenStack yet that allows profile fields to be distributed?

Here’s the model. If I’m involved in online communities relating to, say, environment, politics, music, and sports, then right now I have a different profile per site. So I want one profile. Right? Wrong. Each context finds different pieces of information relevant. And in each context, the information from other context might be more or less relevant. So what I actually want to do is to link each new site to my core identity, have a uri for each profile field or section, and be able to choose which ones get exposed in which other contexts.

This is one of the places where the corporate world may be a little ahead of the open web. When Socialtext started working on social networking, it was clear to us that we weren’t going to be the core source of basic data like a user’s name, address, and phone number – that information was managed by the corporate directory. Instead, what we would do would be to allow organizations to mirror data from their directory and other sources into Socialtext profiles, and then allow administrators to add new fields, too. The model is that the profile is a shell; you can pull things from elsewhere or create them here. And the profile you create here can be pulled elsewhere using a REST API, also.

In order to have social networking that reflects the irreducably distributed nature of our identities, the elements of the profile need to be pulled apart and reassembled, not just mirrored from place to place.

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