Frequently Asked Questions

1. What do you plan to accomplish with MyProfile?

2. What makes MyProfile so special?

3. What is the difference between MyProfile and existing social web applications (e.g. Facebook)?


4. Will MyProfile be compatible with any semantic web application based on REST?

5. Would you consider an option to inter-operate with "legacy" platforms that are not WebID-based?

6. What will you be using for instant messaging? Will you use XMPP, IRC or something else?

7. Will your platform be SWAT0 with itself and/or with any other platform out there?

8. It looks like user search on MyProfile uses some sort of (central?) database of foaf profiles. How does that work?

9. Will you interact with other people only if they have a FOAF profile or will you also accept other formats?


10. What type of license will it have?

11. Can I test it somewhere?

12. When do you plan to release it for everyone?

13. How can I help?

More questions and answers will be added over the time...


Answers

1. What do you plan to accomplish with MyProfile?

As we have stated in the manifesto, what we want to accomplish is to provide users with a unique identity platform, which takes advantage of Semantic Web technologies. The main advantage of such a platform is that users no longer need to invest time and effort into building complex profiles on the numerous websites/services they currently use.

2. What makes MyProfile so special?

MyProfile is special because it offers the user total control over his/her data. The profile is stored on a Web accessible device where only the user has access -- the user's computer, a dedicated server, or ideally a plug computer like the FreedomBox! This way, the user controls both the physical data and who can access it.

3. What is the difference between MyProfile and existing social web applictions (e.g. Facebook)?

The main difference is that MyProfile offers complete control over the user's data. When using a centralized platform like Facebook or Google+, there is no way to make sure that once you delete something, it will be instantly and permanently deleted. Privacy policies configured by users only affect what other people can see and do. You cannot guarantee that your personal data is not reused for other purposes by the service provider.

The second most important difference is that MyProfile uses a decentralized model, while platforms like Facebook and Google+ are centralized (user "silos"). By reusing existing standards from W3C, we want to make sure that MyProfile becomes interoperable with as many other applications as possible.


4. Will MyProfile be compatible with any semantic web application based on REST?

MyProfile will try to be compatible with semantic web applications based on REST, as long as they fit the current model used by MyProfile. We will try to follow the RWW-Interop use cases for this matter.

5. Would you consider an option to inter-operate with "legacy" platforms that are not WebID-based?

Yes, we want to achieve interoperability with as many "legacy" platforms as possible, though I'm not sure how easy a task this i, mainly due to the fact that MyProfile relies heavily on linked data technologies. It would be a lot easier if legacy platforms were to support existing W3C standards. It would really be great if the federated web platforms listed here would all come together to achieve interoperability through commong (existing) standards.

6. What will you be using for instant messaging? Will you use XMPP, IRC or something else?

The goal is to put users to be in control of all their data. We're still thinking about it, but one possible way of achieving this would be to host outgoing messages on the user's server. This means that when a user sends you a message, they are actually just sending a special notification to your application. The message itself never leaves the user's server, meaning that the user can delete it at any time (unlike Emails/XMPP). If you want to read the message, your application will display it by performing an HTTP GET on its URI. That request will be subject to access control policies because it uses your identity when it performs the HTTP GET operation.

7. Will your platform be SWAT0 with itself and/or with any other platform out there?

Yes, the plan is to conform to SWAT test cases, though I'm not yet sure exactly how this part will work.

8. It looks like user search on MyProfile uses some sort of (central?) database of foaf profiles. How does that work?

MyProfile stores a cached copy of people interacting with it. This was a tough call to make, since we really want to respect the current model of the Web, keeping the information fresh by going to the source. However, a major problem specific to decentralized systems is discovery. Unlike Facebook/Twitter, etc, in our case there is no way to search and find a person unless you know him/her (respectively their URI). What MyProfile does is to keep a repository of "public" profiles of all the people that are somehow connected to people using MyProfile (i.e. friends of friends). This is also useful for those cases where you don't have an internet connection, but you still want to lookup a user's phone number.

9. Will you interact with other people only if they have a FOAF profile or will you also accept other formats?

For the moment, MyProfile accepts only FOAF profiles, mainly due to avoiding interoperability issues. With the emergence of Web3.0, we believe that more and more web applications will start providing users with FOAF profiles, thus making it easier for MyProfile to support your favorite identity platform.


10. What type of license will it have?

We believe in the spirit of free software, therefore we decided to release MyProfile with an MIT License. At this time we do not have any plans to change the licensing.

11. Can I test it somewhere?

Of course! A demo version of MyProfile can be accessed at https://my-profile.eu/. The number of services it offers is currently limited, as we are still ironing out several structural design choices, mostly related to technologies we plan to use. You should be able to create a profile (which will be hosted on the demo server) and use it to test the application. It should be noted, however, that privacy control is not yet available in the demo version and the profile will be public.

12. When do you plan to release it for everyone?

The alpha version of MyProfile has been released as free software and it can be downloaded/cloned from our GitHub repository. For the latest news about its development, you can subscribe to our Twitter account.

13. How can I help?

You can always submit a feature or a patch on the GitHub repository! For the moment, we could really need some feedback on the demo web site. Try to create an account and start playing with the services. Tell your friends too! We know it's no fun if you are all alone on the social Web.

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