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WHS Fascination and the Social Grid: Distributed Participation My Way?

The Social Grid Do-Si-Do

I see open social networking as something operating over a social grid.  The infrastructure for open social networking can be seen as a grid of computers, Internet end-points that serve as hubs for social software connections locally and across the Internet in a grid of social connections,  My social graphs are individual overlays, my societies, on the social grid.  I have possession of my social data and all of the definition of my presence in all of the graphs I am found in.   How much I allow to be replicated elsewhere, and how close in I allow other systems to reach into mine is my choice and may vary for each different society and the individual members.

Free Ranging from P2P to Hosted Social-Network System

Although peer-to-peer networking is an obvious vehicle for directing material across the social grid, it creates a burden on how we must keep pulling and pushing material back-and-forth with our social peers.  It could work that way, but only for those who are equipped to operate a social-grid endpoint directly. 

But there is also important value in aggregation via services created for that purpose but that do not hold our social grids captive.   One might look at Facebook-as-a-service as such an aggregation mechanism, once made more permeable to the grid.  There is some prospect of of other service frameworks that have bits and pieces that can be pulled out and put to work for aggregation across the social grid.  I see potential in Windows Live Services for that, though I have to squint fairly hard at this point.  I've not done the homework on Google's Open Social to know how it might fit.

WHS: First Generation Social Hub?

My fascination with WHS, the Windows Home Server operating system, is that WHS functions as a data-connection hub inside a household LAN and it is able to access the Internet on our behalf (sharing the same household firewall, router and broadband gateway as the other computers).  It can expose applications and services (typically as web pages/sites) to the Internet by publishing its presence to an external connector somewhere on the Internet.  There are a variety of security and privacy mechanisms with regard to how, and to whom, the services are exposed.

Although not your everyday use of servers in the home, I think there is interesting potential with WHS 1.0 as a first-generation social-grid node in the household.  It is perfectly situated for exploration of social grid arrangements and distributed participation in our connected societies.

Getting Ready to Play

I have been watching the ramp-up to availability of Windows Home Server.  Now that I have finally got a handle on the sharing among our small-office/home-office SOHO computers and have a regular back-up practice (18 DVDs in my development-system's current one-care backup set), a Windows Home Server is my serious Holiday addition to the network.  Backup is very important, and I love being able to put that load on a dedicated low-power device.

When amazon.com started taking orders for the Hewlett-Packard WHS offering, the MediaSmart Home Server, I checked the specs, nodded at the pre-order discount, and put my money down while they were still taking pre-orders last week.  I have a late-December/early-January delivery estimate.  We'll see what happens in accomplishing the basic backup function.  After that, I'll look at how to turn it into a social grid appliance and hub for Orcmid's Lair.

Update 2007-11-27: My morning e-mail reported that my MediaSmart Home Server was being shipped today.  W00T!!  Now, there is no tracking information on either my order page or at UPS just yet, so I will have to be patient and check tomorrow.  I wonder where it is coming from.  Naturally it is scheduled to be delivered on a day when I won't be home.  I will have to deal with that too.   Once it is en route, I will call UPS and see what I can do about the delivery arrangements.

Update 2007-11-16: There are reports of people receiving "your order has shipped" e-mails from amazon.com.   We'll see if they maintain their track-record if shipping and delivery ahead of the estimate on my recent orders.  [I also finally figured out how to get back into my new amazon associates account and come up with the product link.  I don't carry general ads, but in this case I am going to link to products I myself own or have on order.  I also don't know if I am doing this right yet.]

One Laptop Per Child: Give 1 Get 1 I ordered two XOen (like oxen only a lot smaller, battery powered and, uh, green).  The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO computer was made available starting today as part of a <strike>Get One,</strike> Give One, Get One donation program (so I am giving two).  Although the XOen should be able to access the household LAN and Internet via my wireless access point, I hadn't thought about their being able to access the WHS both locally and over the Internet.  There's no reason why not, depending on whether the XOen have Samba for LAN-based file sharing. 

XOen are already grid-capable as inter-networking devices, there is no reason not to see them as limbs of the social grid as well.   I will have to think on this after I have the MediaSmart Home Serve and the XOen up and running together.

Update 2007-11-13: Andy Oram has a great article about the OLPC mesh network approach, the scale issues that come up with pure meshes, and the super-node solution.  I think we may find even greater hybridization than that with regard to the social grid.  What Andy reports about how the OLPC is already built for distributed collaboration and discovery is also exciting.

[update 2007-11-13 I found the G1G1 badge and also the development wiki with a demonstration of ad hoc collaboration using the XO.  I found the Andy Oram article while screening my unread RSS feed items.  This is worth including in a separate analysis, but I wanted to capture it right away.  This is where I put the marker.]

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