I already talked about Global usernames for decentralized microblogs, but it's an ongoing brainstorming. :-)
Here is my current thinking to get some feedback and ideas.
I feel like i should be able to use whatever nickname i want to mention a friend. I should be able to use @dave, @davewiner or @uncledave in a microblog post. There's no ambiguity as far as we have an hyperlink going threw his blog/page/profile/site.
Embedding the @username / url association in the RSS feed of the microblog is not hard.
We can already find some examples in the wild :
- Twitter uses a user_mentions entity in its API to match a given @mention to the given account (as a convenience so you don't have to parse the tweet to get this data):
<entities> <user_mentions> <user_mention end="70" start="56"> <id>777925</id> <screen_name>themattharris</screen_name> <name>Matt Harris</name> </user_mention> <user_mention end="80" start="72"> <id>9436992</id> <screen_name>abraham</screen_name> <name>Abraham Williams</name> </user_mention> <user_mention end="93" start="82"> <id>6300552</id> <screen_name>mattwkelly</screen_name> <name>Matt Kelly</name> </user_mention> </user_mentions> </entities>
They even use a start/end parameter to locate the @mention is the tweet.
<entry xmlns='http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom'> ... <link rel="mentioned" href="acct:firstname.lastname@example.org" /> <content>Hey there @User!</content> </entry>
Note that they use a "email@example.com" notation that i'm not a fan of. I'd prefer to have a link to the RSS or the profile page (with autodiscovering of the RSS file) of the user.
- Facebook has mentions too. The interesting part is that it's very user friendly. While the internal storage for the mentions is "tagging @[USERID:blah] in my message from a app" the final message shows as "tagging Mark Zuckerberg in my message from a app".
So, could we have something similar in the microblog namespace ?
<description>Look like @jy met Santa and his camel.</description>
<pubDate>Sun, 24 Apr 2011 31:30:36 GMT</pubDate>
<microblog:avatar width="20" height="20">http://up1.typepad.com/6a00d8341d292153ef00e550085c148834-20si</microblog:avatar>
<microblog:avatar width="50" height="50">http://up1.typepad.com/6a00d8341d292153ef00e550085c148834-50si</microblog:avatar>
The main challenge IMHO is not in storing the mentioned user metadata in RSS.
The main challenge is in the UI for typing and selecting a user you want to mention.
Twitter (the "new twitter" AKA Phoenix ) and Facebook use a dropdown autocomplete when you type the @ sign. I think it's very convenient. You don't have to remember the exact username you use for your friends.
But then you don't have a "simple textarea" anymore, it can be hard to implement such a UI in different microblogging tools.
The other challenge is subscription if we don't have a global unique username (as if we already didn't know that ;-P ).
I could at least easily subscribe to people mentioned in the posts of people i already follow. (your tool can extract mentions from posts as they would be stored as explained above)
I'm just thinking out loud. Please comment :-)
Note : I'm running a French Social TV site and i'm willing to federate it with other microblogging services/tools.