FOAF – Friend Of A Friend

When I set up my BlogHarbor account I noticed in ‘my profile’ section of the administrative section something called a FOAF file. I had no idea what it was but today decided to do some online searching to get some idea. As a non-technical person seeking information that will make sense to me and hopefully to others similarly curious, I understand I am leaving myself open to some correcting comments – which is fine by me.

The RDF and Friend of a Friend (FOAF) website gives this ‘short version’: FOAF is all about creating and using machine-readable homepages that describe people, the links between them and the things they create and do.

From checking a number of websites the best I can make of this is that the explanation above is a rather techie way of saying what the rest of us might express as creating a computer coding system to enable computers to read information about people, their interests and activities, thus in turn enabling people to share their personal information and networks via computers, the net and so on.

There is an extended and informative introduction to FOAF by Ed Dumbill on an IBM site: the introduction is from my non-techie perspective unduly technical. Then again it is IBM! But it seemed to me that two out of three articles I found about FOAF referred back to Dumbill’s introduction

There’s another introduction here which added some more to my understanding and also mystified me somewhat – no fault of the author’s as the article seems to be pitched to a more technically literate readership.

What I get at this stage is that FOAF is an enabling technology for building or connecting with social networks. And you don’t have to subscribe to anything. You just have to make a FOAF or foaf file and upload it somewhere on the web.

There is a very readable article on social networking and its benefits by Lisa Kimball and the legendary online networker and visionary, Howard Rheingold at HR’s Rheingold Associates website.

One of the many benefits of having this blog hosted by Blogharbor is that I get to have a FOAF file as part of the deal.

As I’ve indicated, I stand ready for this post to be improved upon or corrected by experts. I just ask that any comments be, as far as possible, in plain English. 

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