During BarCamp Amsterdam last Friday I prepared a few sheets that in the end I didn’t use. As everybody was busy coding or already in a presentation, and by the end of the afternoon everybody was starting to concentrate on the beer in the fridge more, I didn’t see a useful window of opportunity to get a group together for what is basically a conversation around a question I have. It concerns peer to peer social networking, and at this point is much more about concepts than tools I think. So Roland, sorry I didn’t grab a room and presented this, but let’s see if this conversation can get off the ground here as well.
My starting point is the notion that Information Overload doesn’t exist. The perceived stress is the symptom of failing information strategies that work fine in an environment where info is scarce but do not scale to the information abundance the internet offers us.
social network as info filter
A good way to build strategies that do work in information abundance, is taking the social context of information into account.
pattern search key
Doing that you then look for patterns without paying much attention to individual information items (the outside-in approach), or focus and those singular items that relate to a specific list of topics that concerns your current goals and actions (inside-out approach). Also, as you look at information within its social context (that basically taking its human source into account)  you try to move up information paths and networks of your contacts that are the source of that information.
Moving up those paths, and having a clear notion of the social context of an information item, requires some social networking tools if done on-line. The first generation yasns (linked-in, openbc, tribe, orkut etc) don’t cut it for me. Firstly because they have my data somewhere else, in the clubhouse so to speak, and if I am to do anything with it I have to do it in that clubhouse. As if my whole life takes places there, and I am not meeting people in the on-line equivalents of my home, my friends houses, my fav pubs, and public squares etc. Also relations require substance, an object to revolve around. Networking for the sake of networking such as most yasns seem to only offer is useless. Flickr and Plazes on the other hand readily provide object to form and have relations around.
What I really want from social networking tools is:
a) to have my data at home, or at least in one, not service specific, location where I can control it.
b) to finely nuance the levels of trust around information items I share (so that e.g. friends see more in my blog than the general public.But being able to specify that seamlessly per item per context, not as general settings only or merely on/off)
c) to be in the center of my own network, be able to visualize that, spider it, and do that in real time and over time. (Like Anjo Anjewierden in the picture above, or Valdis Krebs does)
How to do that? I don’t know.
I would like to have a true peer to peer social networking platform. Also I’d like to have my own spiders and agents.
FOAF isn’t ready for this kind of thing I think, but we might look to an existing p2p infrastructure like Skype to be a carrier. Boris Mann pretty much repeatedly said Jabber can do anything during BarCamp, and seemed to be only half joking.
What do you think?

3 reactions on “How to Get P2P Social Networking

  1. Thanks Ton. Is this another angle on the old saying “it’s who you know, not what you know”? When I was a journalist I would filter information in several ways:
    * Current interest – the field I was writing in, the stories I was following, what my newspaper was interested in
    * Social networks – people who might call me, or I would call or read
    * Contacts – people I would call when I wanted in depth information
    In those days we didn’t have the web – it was paper and phone, with cuttings in the library. I only had one very limited place to publish. These days I have lot of information, lots of places to publish. To make it work I’m starting to relearn old habits and make my information relationships the most important part of the mix. Thanks for helping me understand what I am doing.

  2. AllPeers: P2P social networking

     Via Tris Hussey via Boris Mann I found AllPeers. It’s a Firefox extension that basically incorporates BitTorrent into your browser and let’s you keep a persistent buddy list. That way you can share your files, media, urls or whatev…

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