People, Services and Content

A couple weeks ago, Marc Canter wrote a entry outlining the constructs of people, services and content. These are the central pillars around which collaboration software is structured.

Content, as a concept, encompasses a wide area. It could be a newspaper article, a radio program, a TV show, a spreadsheet or presentation. Creating and managing content has been one of the primary purposes of computers, ever since they came into existence.

With the rise of the Internet, and particularly social networking, there has been a renewed focus on people and the role they play in a system. Proper emphasis on individuals and groups makes collaboration more efficient.

One of the problems surrounding identity in the past has been the lack of a widely adopted standard. This has made it very difficult to build solutions that are interoperable. Thankfully, OpenID is gaining traction, along with usability improvements through EAUT and other initiatives.

Underlying OpenID, the XRD specification, emerging from earlier work on XRDS-Simple and Yadis, will tie people and content together through services that allow interaction among the two.

There is a lot of work remaining, but its conceivable at this point to envision a future where signing up for a service is as simple as entering your email address and approving access. When the mesh realizes that level of usability, innovation will both flourish and be self-reinforcing.

Developers would be well advised to pay attention to these standards. Integrating these technologies will allow software to participate in the larger web-based ecosystem, both deriving and yielding benefits from and to the whole.

As I noted in my comment:

The standards are all coming together. In my mind, the flow looks something like this:

1. People become directly addressable (i.e. through email addresses).
2. Programs dereference the email address and get an XRD document, which identifies associated services.
3. Programs interact with the discovered services to publish and subscribe to content.


Lonna Hanson
May 28, 2009 at 2:55 PM

Very fun to read, Jared. I marvel at your thoughts and knowledge.

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