PeopleAggregrator sent me an email the other day (I’d’ve written about it before but my laptop was full of wine…) they were asking me to confirm that I was a friend of someone - I am, but there’s no way I’m doing anything with the request. Sending spam is not a sensible way of building a service - it’s obviously an oversight as Marc made it clear they wouldn’t be doing it so I won’t complain outside of this article, but I’m considering this a warning.
It’s not that I don’t want the world to know who my friends are, or who I know, that’s cool, I wouldn’t be around FOAF if I did, however I’m not going to invest any time in maintaining that information, definately not in response from emails. Social networks have a problem, we all know lots of people, and lots of people know us, if it was ubiquitous we’d spend all our time managing these friends, that we’d not actually have the time to get together.
Currently the FOAF world has knowledge about lots of my friends, and people I know - but the person I know the best, the only one I’ve actually spent Christmas with - isn’t described as a friend of mine, but she is. The problem is I can’t be bothered to actually do the work to support that information being on the web - what if she suddenly runs off to the circus, and my pathological fear of clowns means I no longer want to know her?
Describing relationships also suffers from the well known problem of people seeing the relationship differently - and encouraging people to micromanage/detail their relationships, knows/knowsByReputation/onceHadABeerWith/hates etc., is just going to make more work for people - It also suffers from the ego-rubbing and reverse problem.
Every property that relates a person to another is I think of little use other than the actual relationship ones (spouseOf/siblingOf/childOf etc.) I’d much rather see tools intelligent enough to see that two people work together, and have appeared in a picture depicting a pub, and have appeared in a pictures taken in multiple countries is a closer relationship, than 2 people who once participated in the same usenet thread.
RDF can certainly do this, the tools wouldn’t be hard to write, there’s a data problem currently of course, but it’s a lot nicer data problem to answer than micromanaging who I know - I get information about all my photos and what I work on etc. with this one.