The office of the privacy commissioner of Canada nails social network's business model

Thanks to the ACLU of Washington's blog I got a link to this outstanding video on the privacy commissioner of Canada's website. It absolutely nails what social networks are about from a business perspective and why users need to be concerned. This is just yet another argument for why we need open social networks that let users host and control their own data instead of being forced to live in other people's walled gardens. It's a pity that efforts like OpenSocial (which has absolutely nothing to do with freeing user's data) use the name "Open". Because we could really use a real OpenSocial. It wouldn't even be hard. Take a dollop of standardized data schemas, a side of REST and sprinkle some OpenID on top and you are basically there. For dessert we could even fix OAuth to enable true interoperability. [Ed. Note: I realize that my readership already understands what's in that video but maybe you can pass it on to your friends who haven't been quite clued in yet.]

4 thoughts on “The office of the privacy commissioner of Canada nails social network's business model”

  1. Hey Yaron,
    Do you think RDF might have a part to play here (i.e. in the business of people hosting their own data)?

    I remember 2 or 3 years back FOAF ( was gaining some traction but I haven’t heard anthing about it for a long time. OpenID-supporting-FOAF would basically constitute “a dollop of standardized data schemas, a side of REST and a sprinkle of OpenID” would it not?


  2. Yup, I think FOAF could help out a lot. I’ve certainly been thinking about it in the context of Live. I think what’s missing is a user revolt. People tend to like their prisons until offered something genuinely better. If history is any guide it will take several years of the ‘open’ folks wandering in the wildness before everything works. It reminds me of the old Hollywood joke that you had to work hard for a decade before you could become an overnight success.

  3. Yeah I know what you mean. I’m not worried about the users revolting – that will happen eventually. As a certain colleague of yours is fond of saying, “the web always wins”.

    The only thing that does worry me is that RDF is too technical for your average joe to grok. Facebook et al is self-explanatory!

    Thanks for the video. I’m going to circulate it as much as possible!


  4. Yaron,
    Something for you to think about. I want to make my own personal FOAF file available and the best place to do that is on my homepage. However, my homepage is my Live Spaces page and what I’m NOT able to is make the file available at which is what I would like to do.

    For the time being I have hosted it on Skydrive but that’s not ideal because I can’t direct a FOAF reader to

    I *could* direct a FOAF reader to but I’m sure that there’s no guarantee that that URI will always work (at the time of writing, it does).

    So, how can I reliably host my FOAF file on the Windows Live infrastructure? Currently I don’t think I can.

    Something for you to think about.


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