Friday, January 18, 2008

What about Bob?

Kaliya wonders about social networks, invitation mechanisms, and Liberty Alliance People Service.

I do think it is pain in the butt to ‘re-invite’ my friends - are there ways to ‘re-invite them’ but not via e-mail? - are there ways to leverage the work that Liberty Alliance has done on the People Services Spec. from what I could discern from presentations I have seen it has promise to meet the needs articulated.

Today's invitation model is as follows

1) Alice visits SP
2) Alice determines that she wants to interact with Bob at SP
3) If Bo doesnt already have an account at SP, Alice shares Bob's email with SP
4) SP sends Bob an email invite to a) create an account, b) connect it to Alice's
5) Bob & Alice interact in the SP context
6) Repeat 1-5 for every other application context (i.e. SP) that Alice & Bob might share

People Service can reduce the 'invitation load' on Bob two ways:

1) by defining an alternate mechanism by which Bob can be informed of Alice's desire to interact that doesn't imply his email being provided to the SP without his consent , nor be predicated on the very phishable 'click on the link to accept the invitation'. In this other mechanism, the SP gives Alice a URL to herself deliver to Bob, he to present it to his IDP of choice to kick-off acceptance from the 'other direction'.
2) by allowing Bob's invitation acceptance action, even if obtained in a specific application context, to cover other contexts. For instance, if Alice first reached out to Bob from a photo-sharing site, in accepting the invitation, Bob could specify that he was fine with any other application context that Alice in the future might invite him to, effectively pre-accepting (of course, Bob doesn't have to enable this, he could choose to exercise precise control over how he interacts with the sometimes dubiously moralled Alice).
3) by removing from Bob the burden of creating (and subsequently managing) an identity at each SP from which Alice sends him a invitation). Bob instead leverages the existing identity he has at his IdP(s).

This points out what I think is too often lost when people gripe about social silos.
Typically, it's the burden on Alice of maintaining her social network across the various sites that is cited as unacceptable.

But what about Bob?

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