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Like this article? We recommend One Social Web

One Social Web

I'm not the only one to notice that XMPP already provides most of the features that a social networking standard needs. The OneSocialWeb group has been working on a family of standards to enhance XMPP with the missing parts. The X in XMPP stands for Extensible (the IETF can't spell), and it's designed to be a fairly simple protocol onto which more complex operations can be layered. In this sense, it mirrors the web. If a web browser doesn't understand an HTML element, it just ignores it. The same happens with XMPP; if a client or a server doesn't understand a particular extension, then it just ignores it and gets reduced functionality.

The OneSocialWeb extensions provide a number of things. For example, they improve on the vCard support in XMPP to allow sharing arbitrary vCards between users. This allows you to easily share contact information. More importantly, they define protocols for sharing arbitrary streams, such as microblog entries, game scores, and so on.

The protocols that OneSocialWeb adds are quite well designed. They don't reinvent the wheel; they just add the few missing bits to XMPP. The weak point of the project is the lack of a good reference implementation.

OneSocialWeb comes from Vodafone R&D, so hopefully it will get some backing from the mobile phone operators in the future. In recent years, they've seen a lot of smartphones deployed, meaning people use their networks a lot more, but Facebook gets to show adverts to most of them, so gets the majority of the revenue. Deploying their own federated, social networks would be a great way of avoiding this.

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