I just found a new toy (the heat wave is finally over, so my brain starts computing again, all is well): FOAF, for
Friend of a friend. I had been seeing this acronym around some high-profile blogs for a while, but never really bothered to look it up. Seemed complicated, yet it isn’t at all. Everyone knows Friendster #? Well, it’s just the same, except it’s stored on your webserver and you control it by editing an XML file (not necessarily by hand: automated editors are available on the web). Depending on your geekiness, you may think that difference is an advantage or a drawback, it’s up to you. I know I like it.
So here’s how that works: go to the FOAF-a-matic, fill in the form and create a foaf.rdf with the contents the form gives you back. Upload that file to your webserver and you’re done—except that, for now, it’s only showing the world that you don’t have any friends, but at least you can now be listed as someone’s friend.
Next step: use FOAF Explorer to display someone’s FOAF data in human-readable form.Here’s mine (yeah, pretty empty so far, I know; that’s why I’m talking about FOAF here, so that people I know get in it and I can fill up my profile). If you find someone you know, whatever kind of relationship that is (friend, acquaintance, parent or even enemy, the file format gives many possibilities—none of which sex-related, though, which may be a problem for FOAF’s adoption), just click the little (unreadable) red smiley with a green plus sign, and the site will guide you effortlessly into adding that person to your FOAF file. Just click the right buttons and paste the resulting updated XML into your foaf.rdf file, and you’re set.
What’s the point? I don’t know, but that didn’t prevent Friendster from becoming a cult site over a few months. I don’t even know whether I’ll be really using it over time—misanthropic as I am, I’m not sure I’d want to add so many people to my FOAF; moreover, the concept of publicly stating the nature of my relationships with people means very high chances of offendind part of them, since I’m not the kind who’d list everyone as friends. But it’s just a cool gadget, so I thought I’d give it some more exposure, particularly for the French bloggers, who seem to be massively missing the FOAF boat, even though I’m sure most of them would love to publish that kind of information.