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.