Don Marti

Sun 17 Apr 2005 08:33:53 PM PDT

My new reply for social network site invitations

Thank you for inviting me to join your network of friends or contacts on a social network site. I'm probably not on the one to which you invited me, or maybe I made an account there and forgot my password.

Do we really want to do the 1980s thing of having to have accounts on multiple online services to deal with different groups of people? Or fall into the same trap as IM users on the "consumer Internet"?

Are you going to spend hours collecting and publishing your network information, only to have it locked up under a social network site's EULA?

Social network sites aren't email or phone service. We don't need them -- they're a cool hack with potential. The right place for a cool hack isn't in an information bunker -- it's out in the open. This is why people publish their own web sites and "blogs" instead of just participating in CompuServe.

So if your email address is already on the web, I'm just going to put you in my FOAF file.

FOAF is a cross-site standard for publishing links among people. If you really want me listed on your social network site of choice, you can ask them to pull from my FOAF file.

If you would like to put up your own FOAF file, please visit

and try the foaf-a-matic. It's as easy as joining a social network site, but you only have to do it once. Feel free to link to my FOAF file when you create yours.

There is a prototype FOAF-based social network site at: And you don't have to type in all your information again to participate. Having fun yet?