On Socio-Networking

The easy, flexible and distributed way

All of this probably goes back to the day when I got my first orkut invite from one of my friends. I didn't even know what orkut was then (am I not ignorant?). However, I did create an orkut account and accepted my friends invitation. Even though the site was full of activity I found very little "use" of it. Yes, its okay to have a list of friends and be able to network to friends of my immediate friends…. however, I felt that this whole socio networking thing would fit much better if it was accompanied by another relevant service. For eg. like the recent Yahoo 360 (which is still in beta), uses a background socio network for its blogs and photo sharing service. It makes little sense to have just a socio network site. Ideally, there should be a socio network (if possible a single one so that lesser mortals like me are spared the hassle of registering at thousand and one services) which ties together a complete array of services. Moreover, it would be really nice if these services didn't require a special framework to be tied in to the socio network.

The biggest use (besides the lovely idea of socio networking itself – the friends of friends concept) is to possibly keep an updated addressbook. You don't have to burden yourself with polling and updating your friend's contact info… instead he or she updates just him or her's and it reflects at all addressbooks generated by our socio networking engine. I know that there exists a service called myaddressbook.com which does exactly the same. However, it isn't tied with the socio-network-a-group-of-arbitrary-services concept.

The other important property we would like to have from this engine is to make it completely distributed and easy to maintain/install by an individual. Having it distributed avoids a single point of failure and more importantly opens it to customization and other implementations.

Implementation

Let me chalk out a very simple implementation. This focusses on all those guys who like hosting a personal website of their own and use either their own webspace or some other service on the internet for all the other stuff. The best way to abstract out the service is "some text + possibly a URL". The idea is to host a file which contains one's contact info and other socio-networking data on a web server (the one on which a person hosts his website will do just fine) and let interested people remotely include it in their HTML. The file follows a loose standard so that each person remotely including the file in his/her website is able to customize the presentation in an appropriate way. It would have been easy if HTML supported a tag which could let us include an HTML file write within another. However, because it doesn't (this could have been so useful!) we use a workaround. It is possible to include a .js (javascript) file using a script tag. Hence, we use numerous document.write("") statements in a .js file to output HTML. This .js file is included by a script tag into the HTML of whoever wants to include the person as a friend on his site.

The presentation and placement of the content remotely included by the page can be customized using CSS. The "friends" get their freedom of listing whatever they feel like on their .js files. They can included any URL along with some meaningful text in their .js to publicise different parts of their website or services they would like their friends to browse. It remains distributed as each person creates a webpage which remotely includes all their friends .js files.

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4 Responses to On Socio-Networking

  1. sheenam says:

    The article is very technical and eyes breaking.keep doing the good work.
    all the best

  2. ruchi says:

    extremely tallented work.

  3. rajni jindal says:

    articel is very very nice .yar maine kabhi bi aisa articel kabhi nahi padha .you have done great job. aise articel aap bar bar likhte rahe so that hum bhi iss se tech. information gain kare .

  4. i really apreciate your work well done congratulations

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