John Robb writes: "Wouldn't it be interesting to have an RSS variant (new name obviously) for subscribing to personal contact data off of weblogs?"

I read that DJ Adams was just playing with FOAF not too long ago, and at the time it made me want to dig into RDF more. But, work got busy and I promptly got distracted away. If anything, though, I could see something like FOAF being really nice as a start for this purpose. Of course, there's vCard, but I think it wouldn't be very hard to convert to it from FOAF. The universality and connectivity that RDF could bring to this seem terribly nice. Throw in periodic auto-refresh, either literally by scheduled re-query, or by pub/sub notification, and you've got a neat auto-updating address book just for starters.


Archived Comments

  • I think it's sad that (a) FOAF is so poorly documented, and (b) so few people, even from the RDF/SW community, have entries. It seems like this is a great "starter app" to try and build critical mass on, but RDF crowd seems to prefer being a puddle than a pool, or something....
  • Sort of related: Ben's talking about converting OSX address books to FOAF. One possible snag in using FOAF: it's mostly aimed at identifying who you are and who you know/knows you, rather than distributing contact info, so although it uses email addresses as identifiers, it allows a SHA1 hash rather than the actual address. I guess it would be reasonable to have your public throwdown address in clear text, ready for yet another spambot to grab, with everything else hashed.
  • As much as I like RDF and FOAF, isn't this whht LDAP (and OpenDirectory) are for? OS X's addressBook (and I'm pretty sure M$'s stuff too) already comes with LDAP connectivity built in. It ain't webloggy or all that, but it's there...
  • It ain't webloggy or all that, but it's there... It's where? :) I installed an LDAP server at my company, but I doubt UserLand will install an LDAP server for everyone. And I don't think they should. What appeals to me about something like FOAF (or something better) is that it's a file you can throw up at a URL. It's dumb. Everyone can get cheap hosting these days. The smarts go into your address book, or maybe a centrallized contact info aggregation server somewhere that polls your registered URL. Maybe *that* aggregation server has an LDAP interface to use as a bridge. This appeals to me as a nice compromise between centralization and decentralization
  • LDAP is an implementation of identification control rather than a generic, "here's who I am" statement. One could easily incorporate FOAF into LDAP, but one couldn't easily incorporate LDAP into anything else (unless one stripped out the data structures and incorporate them -- interesting idea worth exploring further). I think there needs to be more discussion of FOAF and what type of information should be recorded to 'identify' oneself. Also, I think the important thing to start focusing on is the focus of the vocabularies and implementations, such as FOAF, rather than the fact that they use RDF. RDF is a model, and RDF/XML is a serialization, but the real business is FOAF (or whatever is being discussed). BTW, there was effort to translate vCard into RDF at I don't believe it reflects recent activities associated with RDF.
  • We've implemented a tool that converts vCards to RSS and RDF. You can try it out at You can then place a "Kunekt Card" button on your web site that points to this URL. I'm using Drupal (PHP based Web Log) to develop a contact manager for these files.