Noise-to-Signal’s Rob Cottingham penned this in November 2007. Relationship classification continues to challenge the semantic web. I don’t think a robust social taxonomy will be forthcoming any time soon.
In the early days, the LinkedIn relationship was a connection between two individuals. To contact other users, one needed to be a co-worker/ colleague, classmate, family member, or request introduction via a mutual connection. Next, LinkedIn introduced interest-related groups. Conferences and professional organizations followed, each with some degree of affiliation, and further complication for the social network-based application of user interaction, endorsement and security. The most critical privacy issue is correct access settings to identity-sensitive information on user profiles.
LinkedIn is admittedly one of the more complex online communities. Consider some of the more straightforward social network applications. Twitter has followers, Newsvine has friends, Facebook has friends, fans and groups. Slashdot and many technical forums e.g. php bb or Elgg sites, use the older designations of friend, foe, friend of a friend, foe of a friend etc.
Social bookmarking services such as Diigo and Mister Wong offer enhanced features, including friends and groups. Research, academic and specialized publishers e.g. for the medical, accounting and legal professions, have their own entity definitions. Springer-Verlag’s CiteULike, Science Direct’s Scopus and others such as Connotea, Bibsonomy and Wiley Online entities are neighbors, connections and interest groups.
This should provide some insight into the complexity of algorithms for generating additional follower/ friend suggestions to members of online communities!
Much of Noise-to-Signal’s positive reader feedback is linked to posts from the Web Developer section. My preference is for the Facebook and Social Networking entries. Unfortunately, the site is not as actively updated with fresh content as it was in the past. Maybe I should return and look around more thoroughly. I really need to do a quick look-see of the Twitter cartoons before logging off tonight….