Research, Technology, and Teamwork blog by Susie Wee
Susie shares her thoughts about research, technology, teamwork, and great user experiences from her perspective as the CTO of Client Cloud Services; as the former VP of the HP Experience Software Business; as the former director of the HP Labs Mobile and Media Systems Lab; and as a player, captain, and former coach of team sports. She also shares some career tips she picked up along the way. Susie's personal blog is at .

Social cloud technology in the fabric of the Internet

A shell for Twittertweetsh

Remember the good old days when you had a terminal screen and you typed ls, cd, and man? And, if you were a little more advanced, you might have used pushd, popd, cat, head, and tail. Well, there is a very alpha project called tweetsh. Tweetsh is a command-line shell interface for Twitter. It treats Twitter users/tweets as a big directory/file system and lets you access it with basic shell commands. Very cute and clever.

From what I can tell, this project is one guy in Amman-Jordan hacking for four days, so understandably there are still some bugs in it. But I think it's cool in that geeky sort of way, and TechCrunch thought it was noteworthy, too. And in the comments of the TechCrunch articles are a few other back-to-basics Twitter interfaces around such as a Ubiquity plugin for FireFox and a Twitter wrapper for emacs.

These are geeky cool, but I think they represent (or at least make me think about) a more significant trend. Let's take a closer look.

Technology, platforms, applications, and services for Social Networking

The computer was built on technology- computing and memory. The web was built on technology- computers, networking, and protocols. Blogging was built on more technology- web and syndication. All of these were created with the intention of being platforms that other applications and services would be built on.

Social networking primarily has been built as a service and application (built on the web), e.g., MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. You could call them service platforms, because to varying degrees they are supporting APIs that other apps and services can be built on. I would say that of the four, Twitter takes the most platform-centric view from the UI level in that it made it easy for others to build user interfaces, applications, and services on top of it from the start. (Let's face it, tweetsh is actually a retro UI for Twitter.) Facebook (with Facebook Connect) and MySpace are gradually moving that way too. These are platforms at a service API level.

But now there is a more fundamental movement going on. Social networking and cloud services are being built into the fabric of Internet. More accurately, Social cloud technologies will be built into the fabric of the Internet.

Creating a stable social cloud technology platform for the Internet

Open protocols have been created for social networking and cloud services. For example, OpenSocial is a common API for your social network and RSS has a cloud element defined to support an rssCloud.

Note that these social cloud technologies are not new; it's just that they are coming to life and ready for widespread implementation and adoption. As social cloud technologies get adopted, they will create a stable technology platform that the developer community and industry can build and grow on.

Why now?

For a few reasons:

  1. There are enough users of social networking and there is enough evolution of the usage models to create the demand.

  2. There is enough services and applications and enough churn and instability in the industry to create the need for a stability and interoperability.

What does this mean?

This has a number of implications:

  1. It will become easier and more standardized for developers to build social networking cloud applications and services in a leveraged way.

  2. Social networking applications and services will become more interoperable.

  3. People will be able to have more control of their digital social networking lives.

Marhsall Kirkpatrick writes, Is a perfect storm forming for distributed social networking?

My answer is: Yes. And social cloud technology will be at the base of it.

What do you think? Is now the time for social cloud technology to be built into the fabric of the internet? What technologies are key to making the internet a stable social cloud technology platform?

For you tech historians and pundits out there, did I get this right or wrong?

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