XFN - the Latest Evolution in Friendster?

Warning: Programming-speak stuff coming up

During my morning reading, I came across Paul M. Jones’ post on the Semantic Web. This guy always has good thoughts if you’re a programmer. Anyway, the article he linked to had some interesting thoughts on building micro-content, but things didn’t get good until I started looking through Ryan’s references.

A few clicks later - 2 degrees of seperation away - I came across XFN - XHTML Friends Network. In a nutshell, you adjust the links in your blogroll to include a rel attribute that denotes if someone is a friend, co-worker, neighbor, spouse, someone you’ve met, etc. (the full list of associations is available on XFN: Getting Started).

Of course, with a blog software that knew of XFN, you would just be hitting checkboxes saying that you’ve met this person or that and consider them a friend or an acquaintance. Then a search engine comes along, sees all of these links, and files them away as people you know with the various relationships you’ve set. When someone goes to a search engine and searches for ”Travis Swicegood” they not only find my site (because I’ve linked to myself as me), but they also are presented with links to view all of my co-workers, or neighbors, or friends, or people I’ve met, etc., etc. It’s basically Friendster or Orkut let loose on the web.

Of course, I imagine this doesn’t sound all that exciting to my normal readership, but I know there are a few programmer-types who read the site from time to time. I think through this practical example, they’ll see how big of a deal microformats could potentially be.