31 January 2009

W3C workshop on the future of social networking

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A few weeks ago, W3C, the body in charge of global web standards directed by Tim Berners-Lee, organised a Workshop on the Future of Social Networking in Barcelona, with a high level goal of bringing together the world experts on social networking design, management and operation in a neutral and objective environment where the social networking history to date could be examined and discussed, the risks and opportunities analysed and the state of affairs accurately portrayed.

Within the W3C workshop, the issues facing social networking growth could be documented and, in this workshop in particular, taking into account social networking on mobile devices/platforms with and without PC/broadband Internet services.

The workshop also explored whether it is worthwhile to consider the creation of an Interest or Working Group under the auspices of W3C to continue these discussions.

The discussions of the workshop were fed by the input of the 72 (!) position papers submitted by the participants, and animated by the Program Committee composed of experts from the industry and academics on this topic.

Companies that submitted papers include Atos Origin, Ericsson, IBM, Microsoft, Opera, Samsung Electronics, SUN, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Vodafone, Yahoo!, and YouTube, so the papers section definitely requires a quick scan. You can read the brief summaries by Libby Miller on each of them.

You can also read rough minutes of Day 1 and Day 2 of the workshop, download the slides of the various presentations (linked from the agenda) and watch videos of some of the sessions.

In a short article, the New Scientist focuses on one of the papers on the potency of mobile social networking in developing market economies (with the great subtitle: “The Revolution will be ‘mobil’-ised”), written by South Africa-based mobile social media consultant Gloria Ruhrmund.:

Western consumers are becoming used to the idea that the computing power of their phone is catching up with what is traditionally expected from a computer. But in Africa and some other poor regions it is phones that have all the computing power – mobile handsets far outnumber PCs and broadband connections.

As a result, innovative new uses of mobile connectivity are appearing in those developing areas first, possibly providing a glimpse of what the future holds for cellphone users in richer countries.

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