5/24/2008

The Social API we really need.

The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium -- that is, of any extension of ourselves -- result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology. 
--Marshall McLuhan

Now here's the thing: I'm on Twitter; I like it because I can follow anybody I want, and although there is an awful lot of moronic "noise" (e.g., "I have a hangover and my cat just threw up"), there is also some interesting stuff that lets you find out where others in your particular "groove" are going, what they are working on, what they're thinking about. You can even post a request for help and occasionally somebody that's following you will give you a helpful idea.

The problem is, this is just a "teaser" of what it really could be, and it's totally disconnected from all the other "social" apps. It doesn't connect you to opening an IM chat (which is realtime, and often a lot more useful), there's no easy way to make it really integrate into a forum / messageboard (which is more permanent, and searchable), or del.ico.us (which helps with organizing and tagging resources that are shared with others), or a hybrid short url / spidering / social tagging site like my ittyurl.net, or a blog post with comments, or email notification of something I am following and on which I need up - to - date information when new "stuff" appears on the subject.

I view this entire "space" as a social community that needs to be fully integrated in a single API: twittering, chat / IM, forums, short urls, resource tagging - spidering, and more.  It needs to be an API because  as a developer, that's what I want. I don't particularly care that twitter.com is a "website" or that del.icio.us is a website -- with an integrated API available, I can build my own UI's and social applications to interface with the parts that I need / want. And so can others. Sure, you could still have a website that represents some sort of gateway into all this, but it still needs to be an API. A single, INTEGRATED API.

The advantages of having a single, integrated, standards-based social application API that incorporates all these features should be obvious, I'm not even going to start on the subject.

Then you have the Live Mesh (MOE - Mesh Operating Environment) concept where you are actually synchronizing and sharing resources (files, documents). As long as it's not proprietary (e.g. you "have to" use LiveID authentication), this needs to be in there, too. It would need to have some filters or some sort of admin moderation capability to prevent spammers from ruining it.

Am i being "visionary" for thinking like this? I doubt it - all this is just common sense to me.

I'm willing to put in some time to work on this. I know people who are smarter than I who probably have good ideas and skills to contribute.  If people are interested we could start a codeplex.com project for it. I'd like to see OpenID authentication, a Twitter-like service (µblogging), a del.icio.us - like facility (but more robust like what I've done - spider the resource and do automatic semantic tagging and indexing), forums, IM/ chat, email notification, live-mesh sharing and sync of "stuff", and more. It should be free; it could possibly be supported by advertising. The possibilities really start to sing once you "get" the gestalt concept of integration of all the features in a single API.

Are you up for this, man? Let me know. You can comment here or send me an email to pbromberg at yahoo dot com.