- Feb 2023
tantek.com tantek.comFive years ago last Monday, the @W3C Social Web Working Group officially closed^1. Operating for less than four years, it standardized several foundations of the #fediverse & #IndieWeb: #Webmention #Micropub #ActivityStreams2 #ActivityPub Each of these has numerous interoperable implementations which are in active use by anywhere from thousands to millions of users. Two additional specifications also had several implementations as of the time of their publication as W3C Recommendations (which you can find from their Implementation Reports linked near the top of each spec). However today they’re both fairly invisible "plumbing" (as most specs should be) or they haven’t picked up widespread use like the others: #LinkedDataNotifications (LDN) #WebSub To be fair, LDN was only one building block in what eventually became SoLiD^2, the basis of Tim Berners–Lee’s startup Inrupt. However, in the post Elon-acquisition of Twitter and subsequent Twexodus, as Anil Dash noted^3, “nobody ran to the ’web3’ platforms”, and nobody ran to SoLiD either. The other spec, WebSub, was roughly interoperably implemented as PubSubHubbub before it was brought to the Social Web Working Group. Yet despite that implementation experience, a more rigorous specification that fixed a lot of bugs, and a test suite^4, WebSub’s adoption hasn’t really noticeably grown since. Existing implementations & services are still functioning though. My own blog supports WebSub notifications for example, for anyone that wants to receive/read my posts in real time. One of the biggest challenges the Social Web Working Group faced was with so many approaches being brought to the group, which approach should we choose? As one of the co-chairs of the group, with the other co-chairs, and our staff contacts over time, we realized that if we as chairs & facilitators tried to pick any one approach, we would almost certainly alienate and lose more than half of the working group who had already built or were actively interested in developing other approaches. We (as chairs) decided to do something which very few standards groups do, and for that matter, have ever done successfully. From 15+ different approaches, or projects, or efforts that were brought^5 to the working group, we narrowed them down to about 2.5 which I can summarize as: 1. #IndieWeb building blocks, many of which were already implemented, deployed, and showing rough interoperability across numerous independent websites 2. ActivityStreams based approaches, which also demonstrated implementability, interoperability, and real user value as part of the OStatus suite, implemented in StatusNet, Identica, etc. 2.5 "something with Linked Data (LD)" — expressed as a 0.5 because there wasn’t anything user-visible “social web” with LD working at the start of the Working Group, however there was a very passionate set of participants insisting that everything be done with RDF/LD, despite the fact that it was less of a proven social web approach than the other two. As chairs we figured out that if we were able to help facilitate the development of these 2.5 approaches in parallel, nearly everyone who was active in the Working Group would have something they would feel like they could direct their positive energy into, instead of spending time fighting or tearing down someone else’s approach. It was a very difficult social-technical balance to maintain, and we hit more than a few bumps along the way. However we also had many moments of alignment, where two (or all) of the various approaches found common problems, and either identical or at least compatible solutions. I saw many examples where the discoveries of one approach helped inform and improve another approach. Developing more than one approach in the same working group was not only possible, it actually worked. I also saw examples of different problems being solved by different approaches, and I found that aspect particularly fascinating and hopeful. Multiple approaches were able to choose & priortize different subsets of social web use-cases and problems to solve from the larger space of decentralized social web challenges. By doing so, different approaches often explored and mapped out different areas of the larger social web space. I’m still a bit amazed we were able to complete all of those Recommendations in less than four years, and everyone who participated in the working group should be proud of that accomplishment, beyond any one specification they may have worked on. With hindsight, we can see the positive practical benefits from allowing & facilitating multiple approaches to move forward. Today there is both a very healthy & growing set of folks who want simple personal sites to do with as they please (#IndieWeb), and we also have a growing network of Mastodon instances and other software & services that interoperate with them, like Bridgy Fed^6. Millions of users are posting & interacting with each other daily, without depending on any large central corporate site or service, whether on their own personal domain & site they fully control, or with an account on a trusted community server, using different software & services. Choosing to go from 15+ down to 2.5, but not down to 1 approach turned out to be the right answer, to both allow a wide variety^7 of decentralized social web efforts to grow, interoperate via bridges, and frankly, socially to provide something positive for everyone to contribute to, instead of wasting weeks, possibly months in heated debates about which one approach was the one true way. There’s lots more to be written about the history of the Social Web Working Group, which perhaps I will do some day. For now, if you’re curious for more, I strongly recommend diving into the group’s wiki https://www.w3.org/wiki/Socialwg and its subpages for more historical details. All the minutes of our meetings are there. All the research we conducted is there. If you’re interested in contributing to the specifications we developed, find the place where that work is being done, the people actively implementing those specs, and even better, actively using their own implementations^8. You can find the various IndieWeb building blocks living specifications here: * https://spec.indieweb.org/ And discussions thereof in the development chat channel: * https://chat.indieweb.org/dev If you’re not sure, pop by the indieweb-dev chat and ask anyway! The IndieWeb community has grown only larger and more diverse in approaches & implementations in the past five years, and we regularly have discussions about most of the specifications that were developed in the Social Web Working Group. This is day 33 of #100DaysOfIndieWeb #100Days ← Day 32: https://tantek.com/2023/047/t1/nineteen-years-microformats → 🔮 Post Glossary: ActivityPub https://www.w3.org/TR/activitypub/ ActivityStreams2 https://www.w3.org/TR/activitystreams-core/ https://www.w3.org/TR/activitystreams-vocabulary/ Linked Data Notifications https://www.w3.org/TR/ldn/ Micropub https://micropub.spec.indieweb.org/ Webmention https://webmention.net/draft/ WebSub https://www.w3.org/TR/websub/ References: ^1 https://www.w3.org/wiki/Socialwg ^2 https://www.w3.org/wiki/Socialwg/2015-03-18-minutes#solid ^3 https://mastodon.cloud/@anildash/109299991009836007 ^4 https://websub.rocks/ ^5 https://indieweb.org/Social_Web_Working_Group#History ^6 https://tantek.com/2023/008/t7/bridgy-indieweb-posse-backfeed ^7 https://indieweb.org/plurality ^8 https://indieweb.org/use_what_you_make - Tantek1
- Jun 2020
Crystal, J. (2020, April 23). The Behavioral science response to COVID-19 Working Group: Recommendations to increase social distancing. Psychonomic Society Featured Content. https://featuredcontent.psychonomic.org/the-behavioral-science-response-to-covid-19-working-group-recommendations-to-increase-social-distancing/
- working group
- social distancing
- behavioral science
- Aug 2016
this is a critical juncture in building the next generation of scholarly information infrastructure. The technology has advanced much more quickly than has our understanding of its present potential uses. Social research on scholarly practices is essential to inform the design of tools, services, and policies. Design decisions made today will determine whether the Internet of tomorrow enables imaginative new forms of scholarship and learning – or whether it simply reinforces today's tasks, practices, laws, business models, and incentives.
Borgman on the relationship of knowledge mobilization scholarship, similarities and differences:
once collections of information resources are online, they become available to multiple communities. Researchers can partner across disciplines, asking new questions using each other's data. Data collected for policy purposes can be used for research and vice versa. Descriptions of museum objects created for curatorial research purposes are interesting to museum visitors. Any of these resources may also be useful for learning and instruction. nevertheless, making content that was created for one audience useful to another is a complex problem. Each field that is on vocabulary, data structures, and research practices. People ask questions in different ways, starting with familiar terminology. Repurpose sing of research data for teaching can be especially challenging. Scholars goals are to produce knowledge for their community, while student schools are to learn the concepts and tools of a given field. These two groups have different levels of expertise in both disciplinary knowledge in the use of data and information resources. Different descriptions, tools, and services may be required to share content between audiences.
- Jul 2016
Borgman on why we need a common effort in building a scholarly Commons
Striking contrast exists between disciplines and artifacts, practices, and incentives to build the content layer. Common approaches are none the less required to support interdisciplinary research, which is a central goal of the research. Scholarly products are useful to scholars and related fields and sometimes to scholars in distant fields as the boundaries between disciplines becomes more porous, the interoperability of information systems and services becomes indispensable.
Here is a great statement as to the need for a self-conscious commons :
The content layer of the scholarly information infrastructure will not be built by voluntary contributions of information artifacts from individuals. The incentives are too low and barriers too high. Contributing publications through self archiving has the greatest incentives and the fewest barriers, but voluntary contributions remain low. Contributing data has even fewer incentives and even greater barriers. Scholars continue to rely on the publishing system to guarantee that the products of their work are legitimized, disseminated, reserved, curated, and made accessible. Despite its unstable state, the system does exist, resting on relationships among libraries, publishers, universities, scholars, students, and other stakeholders. No comparable system exists for data. Only a few fields have succeeded in establishing infrastructures for their data, and most of these are still fledgling efforts. Little evidence exists that a common infrastructure for data will arise from the scholarly community. The requirements are diverse, the common ground is minimal, and individuals are not rewarded for tackling large institutional problems. Building the content layer is the responsibility of the institutions and policymakers rather than individuals. Individual behavior will change when the policies change to offer more rewards, and when tools and services and prove to decrease the effort required….
In the section “Description and Organization in the Sciences” Borgman discusses some of the ways in which scientific literature is better organized: for example these include uniform language, taxonomies, thesauri, and ontologies.
the sciences create a variety of objects the salt in the gray area between documents and data. Examples include Laboratorio field notebooks, slicer talks, composition objects such as graphic visualization of data. Laboratorio notebooks are often classified as data because their records research. Slides from talks, which were once ephemeral forms of communication, now our compost and competent person websites are distributed to accomplish proceedings. Graphic visualization data can be linked to scarlet documents to report research or to the underlying data.
Chapter 8 is an excellent overview of the nature of the commons its differences and similarities
Page 182 Borgman on the disciplinary differences in scholarly practice
Despite many common activities, both the artifacts and practices of scholarship very by discipline. The artifacts very as scholars make choices about the sources of data, along with what, when, where, and what form to disseminate the products of their work. Scholarly practices vary in the way that scholars create, use, and share documents, data, and other forms of information.
Chapters 4 and 5 the continuity of scholarly publishing and the discontinuity of scholarly publishing
These are both useful and important chapters for the scholarly Commons working group. They discuss the things that are common across scholarly communication as well as the different functions comma and they also discuss a new technology is disrupting this common area.