Socially enhanced enterprise and invididual collaboration is becoming a focal point for a variety of solutions that offer erswhile distinct content managment features across the realms of Blogging, Wikis, Shared Bookmarks, Discussion Forums etc.. as part of an integrated platform suite. Recently, Socialtext has caught my attention courtesy of its nice features and benefits page . In addition, I've also found the Mike 2.0 portal immensely interesting and valuable, for those with an enterprise collaboration bent.

Anyway, Socialtext and Mike 2.0 (they aren't identical and juxtaposition isn't seeking to imply this) provide nice demonstrations of socially enhanced collaboration for individuals and/or enterprises is all about:

  1. Identifying Yourself
  2. Identifying Others (key contributors, peers, collaborators)
  3. Serendipitous Discovery of key contributors, peers, and collaborators
  4. Serendipitous Discovery by key contributors, peers, and collaborators
  5. Develop and sustain relationships via socially enhanced professional network hybrid
  6. Utilize your new "trusted network" (which you've personally indexed) when seeking help or propagating a meme.

As is typically the case in this emerging realm, the critical issue of discrete "identifiers" (record keys in sense) for data items, data containers, and data creators (individuals and groups) is overlooked albeit unintentionally.

How HTTP based Linked Data Addresses the Identifier Issue

Rather than using platform constrained identifiers such as:

  • email address (a "mailto" scheme identifier),
  • a dbms user account,
  • application specific account, or
  • OpenID.

It enables you to leverage the platform independence of HTTP scheme Identifiers (Generic URIs) such that Identifiers for:

  1. You,
  2. Your Peers,
  3. Your Groups, and
  4. Your Activity Generated Data,

simply become conduits into a mesh of HTTP -- referencable and accessible -- Linked Data Objects endowed with High SDQ (Serendipitious Discovery Quotient). For example my Personal WebID is all anyone needs to know if they want to explore:

  1. My Profile (which includes references to data objects associated with my interests, social-network, calendar, bookmarks etc.)
  2. Data generated by my activities across various data spaces (via data objects associated with my online accounts e.g., Twitter, Last.FM)
  3. Linked Data Meshups via URIBurner (or any other Virtuoso instance) that provide an extend view of my profile

How FOAF+SSL adds Socially aware Security

Even when you reach a point of equilibrium where: your daily activities trigger orchestratestration of CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations against Linked Data Objects within your socially enhanced collaboration network, you still have to deal with the thorny issues of security, that includes the following:

  1. Single Sign On,
  2. Authentication, and
  3. Data Access Policies.

FOAF+SSL, an application of HTTP based Linked Data, enables you to enhance your Personal HTTP scheme based Identifer (or WebID) via the following steps (peformed by a FOAF+SSL compliant platform):

  1. Imprint WebID within a self-signed x.509 based public key (certificate) associated with your private key (generated by FOAF+SSL platform or manually via OpenSSL)
  2. Store public key components (modulous and exponent) into your FOAF based profile document which references your Personal HTTP Identifier as its primary topic
  3. Leverage HTTP URL component of WebID for making public key components (modulous and exponent) available for x.509 certificate based authentication challenges posed by systems secured by FOAF+SSL (directly) or OpenID (indirectly via FOAF+SSL to OpenID proxy services).

Contrary to conventional experiences with all things PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) related, FOAF+SSL compliant platforms typically handle the PKI issues as part of the protocol implementation; thereby protecting you from any administrative tedium without compromising security.


Understanding how new technology innovations address long standing problems, or understanding how new solutions inadvertently fail to address old problems, provides time tested mechanisms for product selection and value proposition comprehension that ultimately save scarce resources such as time and money.

If you want to understand real world problem solution #1 with regards to HTTP based Linked Data look no further than the issues of secure, socially aware, and platform independent identifiers for data objects, that build bridges across erstwhile data silos.

If you want to cost-effectively experience what I've outlined in this post, take a look at OpenLink Data Spaces (ODS) which is a distributed collaboration engine (enterprise of individual) built around the Virtuoso database engines. It simply enhances existing collaboration tools via the following capabilities:

Addition of Social Dimensions via HTTP based Data Object Identifiers for all Data Items (if missing)

  1. Ability to integrate across a myriad of Data Source Types rather than a select few across RDBM Engines, LDAP, Web Services, and various HTTP accessible Resources (Hypermedia or Non Hypermedia content types)
  2. Addition of FOAF+SSL based authentication
  3. Addition of FOAF+SSL based Access Control Lists (ACLs) for policy based data access.