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Archive: 16 August 2004

Me, Me, Me, Me, and… Me

As part of the XFN 1.1 update, we created an XFN and… page to cover the ways in which XFN compares to, contrasts with, and intersects with other things.  For example, that’s where we moved the XFN and FOAF document, which I really need to get around to updating.  We also debuted what Tantek loves to call “the sand-dollar diagram”.  Lacking any other vector drawing tool on my laptop, I used OmniGraffle to create it.  One of these days I really should get around to acquiring a more appropriate tool for that kind of thing.

With the spread of networking sites, people have effectively created identity islands.  My profile on LinkedIn, for example, describes a little bit of my identity.  A Ryze profile would be another part, and an Orkut profile a third.  There would no doubt be some overlap in information, but at the same time each profile will likely have some unique information about me.  The me value can be used to create bridges between these identity islands, providing—possibly for the first time—a way to tie all these disparate bits together in an easily discoverable way.  An XFN search engine (like Rubhub) could use this value to compile a unified identity profile for a person.  Similarly, it should be possible to create a tool that follows me links to pull identity information into one place.  As more profiles are created, new me links can be added and aggregated.

The only real roadblock at the moment is the inability to add XFN links from site profiles back to a central location.  Thus, in the sand dollar diagram, the links out to various services are green (XFN Friendly) while the links back from those services are blue or gray, depending on whether or not there’s an ability to add any kind of link at all.  If every service allowed users to supply a URL for a me link, then the connection would be bi-directional and thus more credible.  We don’t have to wait for that to happen, though.  If I link from meyerweb.com to various profiles with me links, that’s a good start toward consolidating my identity islands.

XFN 1.1 Released

The gang at GMPG (which includes me) has published the XFN 1.1 profile.  This is the profile we presented at Hypertext 2004, where we got a positive response to both the overall concept and the new values.  They are contact, kin, and me.  All three are the result of feedback we received after XFN 1.0 was released.  Of the three, I find contact the most interesting, mostly because I would never have thought of it.  To me, it seems like a value that is more about professional status than personal relationship, but a lot of people saw things otherwise.  So in it went.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term kin, it refers to any member of your family, either a blood relative or someone closely related through marriage.  As an example, all of my aunts and uncles are kin, even though half of them aren’t blood relations, having married into the family.  It was the most compact ungendered term we could find besides “family”, which didn’t feel right.

As for me, that was a value we debated for inclusion in 1.0 almost literally up to the hour we released it.  In the end, we cut it because we were resolved to include only those values we felt sure would be useful, thus keeping things as simple and lightweight as possible.  We figured that if people wanted the value, they’d tell us—and they did.  Tantek and I batted around some thoughts concerning uses of me while we were at the conference and I think we may be on to some interesting ideas.  Hopefully they’ll hold up after further discussion.

If you have a comment on XFN 1.1 or an idea for a value we could add to a future version of XFN, let us know.

August 2004
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