Realizing Robert Scoble’s vision of the end of social information silos

Last week, Robert Scoble wrote Location 2012, an excellent blog post where he illustrated a vision of a world where location-based services could work together instead of being information silos.

Services including FourSquare, PlanCast, Tungle, Glympse, and Siri work together to notify Scoble’s friends where he is and where he is going, so they can meet each other instead of missing each other. Services such as Blippy and Expensify share Scoble’s financial data on his behalf.

To make this happen, you need to be able to follow the same person’s activities across a variety of different services. You may want to be able to share updates with sets of friends with common interests across platforms. Updates need to encode location, so the application can present what’s geographically relevant. Apps need to share data, without a user’s needing to keep and enter many different passwords.

The cool thing is, the technical standards and protocols to make this vision a reality are starting to fall into place. ActivityStreams are an important part of the mix. ActivityStreams are a standard way of representing common social actions, like posts, follows, likes, and checkins. PubSubHubBub/Webhooks allow applications to subscribe to updates from other applications in realtime. WebFingeris intended to let you find the same person across social sites. Portable Contacts is intended to represent a set of people – a contact list or subset of contacts. Oauth is used so that applications can gain authenticated access to other applications on the user’s behalf.

I’ve illustrated Scoble’s scenario below – the amazing thing is that it could all be real today! The only piece that hasn’t been worked out in the standards stack is the ability to create that upcoming Facebook event. Everything else could be implemented now.

The central concept in making this vision is real that “social” is not a set of silo’d services with social features – it’s a layer that crosses multiple services. The best way to bring this world about isn’t to wait for Facebook to implement every possible social feature, but to build in the standards support and interoperability to make many services more useful for all.


This Prezi by Kevin Marks has more on the emerging standards stack – thanks to Kevin for review.

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