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Activity Streams Next Steps

11th Jan 2009

Last Thursday Six Apart hosted a very productive meet-up for the Activity Streams community -- which turned out to be far bigger than I imagined -- where we had some good discussions about where we are and were we're going. I think overall the feedback on the current spec drafts was positive, though there was a definite desire to grow the schema to support the activities exposed by more social sites. MySpace joining the fray has also made purely social activities such as friendship relationships, which we were previously deferring for a later draft, suddenly more important.

I like to work to defined goals, so here are my high-level goals for the next iteration:

  • Write a spec for the representation of people as Atom entries, to enable them to be used as activity objects. This will probably be based on the XML serialization of the PortableContacts schema, though there will be some adjustments to address the redundancy that exists between some existing Atom elements and the PortableContacts fields.
  • Expand the schema to include verbs and object types necessary to support a large proportion of the publishers currently supported by FriendFeed and Plaxo. These are easier to specify because FriendFeed and Plaxo already process these in a particular way so there are examples to draw from.
  • Start to spec out some schema additions for the purely social activities exposed by MySpace. This will be harder, because we don't really have any good examples of what this might look like in Atom, but I hope to work with Monica Keller from MySpace to figure out what makes sense for them and hopefully extrapolate that to Facebook and other similar systems. MySpace also exposes activities raised by OpenSocial, so we'll need to address how AtomActivity and OpenSocial work together at some point, but I'm hoping we can defer that at least to the next iteration.

Since I'm working on this largely in my spare time I can't really give a timeframe for the above, but I'd certainly like to do them sooner rather than later. MySpace in particular seems to be ready to launch, so that's pushing things forward faster than they might otherwise have moved. I'm getting some good feedback from a number of folks online too, and I've made a list of the outstanding issues that've been raised which I intend to post online shortly.

It was exciting to see so many folks at the meet-up enthusiastic about solving this problem. Hopefully with a couple more iterations we'll get to a place where folks can start to feel more comfortable implementing this stuff, as things solidify.

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