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FOAF’ed from the get-go

I started this blog in November with the goal of posting once a day, which I kept to for two months, then settled into a rhythm of once every five days. Now that we’re trudging hip-deep through the project, it’s harder to make time to write. It’s even harder to find time to research and reflect on the Semantic Web and its inevitable implications. Such writing requires a stand-back perspective. Instead, my head’s been buried in the details of development.

What have we been up to? Well, some of you may be interested in the way we’re mixing FOAF with Jabber and image annotation. When you first run Tidepool, it interviews you in a manner reminscent of FOAF-a-matic, though the interview is a bit more conversational, since we’re aiming at non-technical users. Once Tidepool has learned about you and the people you know, it creates an account on Storymill, where it creates a FOAF file, a PGP key pair, and a Jabber account. I’ll write about how these interact in a later post. For now, just know that we want everyone to get FOAF’ed from the get-go, with a geniune PGP key that’s used for all Storymill/Tidepool annotated information. We’re not expecting anyone to know what FOAF is, or what PGP is. That’s always been a problem with such things … only people that grok them ever use them. We’re aiming to get grandma using PGP without her even knowing it.

The Jabber part allows Tidepool users to IM everyone they know, even if others use AIM, ICQ, Yahoo, or MSN. We’re looking to mix FOAF with buddy lists. It’s an obvious connection, as is mixing buddy lists with image annotation. People will use Tidepool to chat with their friends and family while they collectively annotate their images. They can then send their handiwork to everyone they know, simply by dragging their creations onto buddy list icons. Whether by traditional IM, email, MMS, or website link, it’ll be real easy to share your stories and photos with folks, both immediately and eventually.

Anyway, that’s the vision. We’re making good progress, particularly with the user interface design. More details will appear on the Tidepool website in a few weeks. I may even find time to write more about it here 🙂

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