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The Future of Social Networks on the Internet: The Need for Semantics John Breslin, Stefan Decker [email_address] http://s...
We all live in a social network… <ul><li>… of friends, family, workmates, fellow students, acquaintances, etc. </li></ul><...
Online social networking services (SNS) <ul><li>Idea behind SNSs is to make these real-world  relationships  explicitly  d...
Social networks have exploded… <ul><li>The 10 most popular domains ~= 40% percent of all page views on the Web (Compete, N...
But… <ul><li>Fundamental problems block their potential to access the full range of available content and networked people...
First issue <ul><li>Need interesting objects to draw you back to keep on using social networking services </li></ul>* Sour...
Many social networking services are boring… * Source: Jyri Engestrom, “Object-Centered Sociality”, Reboot 7
Object-centred sociality can provide meaning <ul><li>Users connected via a common object, e.g., their job, university, hob...
Object-centred sociality can provide meaning (2) <ul><li>“ When a service fails to offer the users a way to create new obj...
… can connect us to other people <ul><li>Video annotations </li></ul><ul><li>Chats </li></ul><ul><li>Photos </li></ul><ul>...
Second issue <ul><li>We all have too many separate profiles and sets of contacts on disconnected social networking service...
Social network portability and reusability <ul><li>Need distributed social networks and reusable profiles </li></ul><ul><l...
The Semantic Web can help <ul><li>Sir Tim Berners-Lee et al., Scientific American, 2001: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ An extens...
The Semantic Web can help (2) <ul><li>By using agreed-upon Semantic Web formats to  describe people, content objects and t...
Friend-of-a-Friend (FOAF) <ul><li>FOAF is an ontology for describing people and the relationships that exist between them ...
Integrating social networks with FOAF Common formats, unique URIs * Source: Sheila Kinsella, Applications of Social Networ...
A distributed social network with FOAF <ul><li>Can use FOAF to describe social networks across a number of services </li><...
Disconnected social media sites can connect using Semantic Web technology
Some more social networking trends for discussion <ul><li>SNS methods  simulate real-life social interaction : </li></ul><...
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The Future of Social Networks: The Need for Semantics

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BarCamp Galway / DERI, National University of Ireland, Galway / 22nd September 2007

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The Future of Social Networks: The Need for Semantics

  1. 1. The Future of Social Networks on the Internet: The Need for Semantics John Breslin, Stefan Decker [email_address] http://sw.deri.org/~jbreslin/ BarCamp Galway 22 nd September 2007
  2. 2. We all live in a social network… <ul><li>… of friends, family, workmates, fellow students, acquaintances, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Stanley Milgram </li></ul><ul><li>“ Six degrees of separation” </li></ul>
  3. 3. Online social networking services (SNS) <ul><li>Idea behind SNSs is to make these real-world relationships explicitly defined online </li></ul><ul><li>SNSs allow a user to create and maintain an online network of close friends or business associates for social and professional reasons : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Friendships and relationships, offline meetings, curiosity about others, business opportunities, job hunting </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Usual features of SNSs : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Network of friends (inner circle), person surfing from friends to friends-of-friends, private messaging, discussion forums, events management, blogging and commenting, media uploading </li></ul></ul><ul><li>From the beginning, the Internet was a medium for connecting not only machines but people </li></ul>
  4. 4. Social networks have exploded… <ul><li>The 10 most popular domains ~= 40% percent of all page views on the Web (Compete, November 2006) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nearly half of those views were from the social networking services MySpace and Facebook – wow! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And that’s just in the top 10… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Money, money, money: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Friendster – $13M VC </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tribe – $6.3M VC </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>LinkedIn – $4.7M VC </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bebo – $15M VC </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MySpace – Sold for $580M </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Friends Reunited – Sold for £120M </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook – Purported $1B Y! offer </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. But… <ul><li>Fundamental problems block their potential to access the full range of available content and networked people online </li></ul><ul><li>There is a need to build semantic social networking into the fabric of the next-generation Internet itself: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interconnecting both content and people in a meaningful way </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. First issue <ul><li>Need interesting objects to draw you back to keep on using social networking services </li></ul>* Source: Jyri Engestrom, “Object-Centered Sociality”, Reboot 7
  7. 7. Many social networking services are boring… * Source: Jyri Engestrom, “Object-Centered Sociality”, Reboot 7
  8. 8. Object-centred sociality can provide meaning <ul><li>Users connected via a common object, e.g., their job, university, hobbies, a date… </li></ul><ul><li>“ Another tradition of theorizing offers an explanation of why Russell linked out, and why so many YASNS ultimately fail.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ According to this theory, people don’t just connect to each other. They connect through a shared object.” </li></ul>* Source: Jyri Engestrom, “Why Some Social Networks Work…”
  9. 9. Object-centred sociality can provide meaning (2) <ul><li>“ When a service fails to offer the users a way to create new objects of sociality, they turn the connecting itself into an object [LinkedIn].” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Good services allow people to create social objects that add value.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Flickr = photos </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>del.icio.us = bookmarks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogs = discussion posts </li></ul></ul>* Source: Jyri Engestrom, “Why Some Social Networks Work…”
  10. 10. … can connect us to other people <ul><li>Video annotations </li></ul><ul><li>Chats </li></ul><ul><li>Photos </li></ul><ul><li>Micro-blogs </li></ul><ul><li>OSN profiles </li></ul><ul><li>Bookmarks </li></ul><ul><li>… </li></ul>Everything we make and do…
  11. 11. Second issue <ul><li>We all have too many separate profiles and sets of contacts on disconnected social networking services </li></ul>
  12. 12. Social network portability and reusability <ul><li>Need distributed social networks and reusable profiles </li></ul><ul><li>Users may have many identities and sets of friends on different social networks, where each identity was created from scratch </li></ul><ul><li>Allow user to import existing profile and contacts, using a single global identity with different views (e.g., via FOAF, hCard, OpenID, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>See also: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://groups.google.com/group/social-network-portability/ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>http://bradfitz.com/social-graph-problem/ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>http://danbri.org/words/2007/09/13/194 </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. The Semantic Web can help <ul><li>Sir Tim Berners-Lee et al., Scientific American, 2001: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ An extension of the current web in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Semantic Web can provide the required representation mechanisms for connecting disparate social networks: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It links people and objects to store and represent the heterogeneous ties that bind us to each other </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Serves as a useful platform for linking and for performing operations on diverse person- and object-related data gathered from heterogeneous social networking sites </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. The Semantic Web can help (2) <ul><li>By using agreed-upon Semantic Web formats to describe people, content objects and the connections that bind them all together , SNSs can interoperate by appealing to common semantics </li></ul><ul><li>Developers are already using Semantic Web technologies to augment the ways in which they create, reuse, and link content on social networking and media sites (using FOAF, SIOC, etc.) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook to FOAF : http://www.dcs.shef.ac.uk/~mrowe/foafgenerator.html </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In the other direction, object-centered social networks can serve as rich data sources for Semantic Web applications </li></ul>
  15. 15. Friend-of-a-Friend (FOAF) <ul><li>FOAF is an ontology for describing people and the relationships that exist between them </li></ul><ul><li>Can be integrated with any other SW vocabularies </li></ul><ul><li>Some SNSs with FOAF exports: </li></ul><ul><li>People can also create their own FOAF document and link to it from their homepage </li></ul><ul><li>FOAF documents usually contain personal info, links to friends, and other related resources </li></ul>
  16. 16. Integrating social networks with FOAF Common formats, unique URIs * Source: Sheila Kinsella, Applications of Social Network Analysis 2007
  17. 17. A distributed social network with FOAF <ul><li>Can use FOAF to describe social networks across a number of services </li></ul><ul><li>Picture shows data from both boards.ie and my hand-coded FOAF file </li></ul>
  18. 18. Disconnected social media sites can connect using Semantic Web technology
  19. 19. Some more social networking trends for discussion <ul><li>SNS methods simulate real-life social interaction : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People meet others through something they have in common, not by randomly approaching each other </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better interaction methods with friends à la Second Life </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Individuals are revealing more and more information on SNS and other social software sites </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal privacy issues, where sensitive information is revealed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Advertisers and marketers can gain better understanding from customer behavioural patterns: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Analysing masses of SNS info, “clouds” showing the overall picture </li></ul></ul><ul><li>United States NSA using social network analysis technologies for homeland security </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Also using “automated intelligence profiling” based on unreliable info </li></ul></ul>

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