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apbleonard May 05, 2010 05:18 PM
SUGGESTION: Would it be possible for a user to "follow" other users and spaces, such that your activity stream on the home page only showed activity from users/spaces that you followed?

This is a simple way of letting others be your filter, and making sure the faces you see every day are ones you trust - which is the key to why Twitter works so well. Without this, the home page activity stream (and the Air client stream) is full of chat you're not interested in, and what you are interested in is hidden inside spaces you have to go and visit.

Adding the feature above would make a true "social network" since you could have "friends" you followed as well as spaces you shared with others.
Replies (9)
ollyando May 05, 2010 08:43 PM
This is something Cyn.In is really missing.
apbleonard May 06, 2010 12:52 PM
Thanks for backing up this suggestion!
romasha May 06, 2010 09:41 AM
Hello apbleonard,

You can filter the activity stream to show only the activities of the users you are interested in by using the filter panel.

The faceted search in the activity stream lets you filter content by user, tags, content types (i.e. wikis, events etc. ) or even a particular date range. You can subscribe to the filtered activity stream through RSS feeds or email, so you will be notified if there is any activity from your filtered activity stream.

This doesn't directly enable the follow but is a great way to filter out the activity stream.

I have added a feature request in ODN for enabling following users in
apbleonard May 06, 2010 01:21 PM
Hi Romasha,

Thanks a lot for adding this as a feature request. Please keep us updated. (I'm not authorized to view the details of this on ODN by the way.) I think this addition would make far more useful and even embedded into daily life.

This is a relatively famous post that explains six things that make Twitter work well in theory - and the "following" feature is one of them.[…]/how-twitter-works-in-theory.html

> *Following*
> Historically, web fora were open to anyone, leading to the tragedy of the comments, where
> annoying people showed up and spoiled things.
> Social network sites changed this by requiring mutual agreement on friendship, thereby
> making a natural in-group area where you only saw your friends' comments. This also created
> a venue for the phatic behaviour, but it was rather self-limiting, as you ended up with piles
> of friend requests from vaguely unfamiliar people that it feels rude to ignore, creating another
> inbox problem.
> This is analogous to the pre-web hypertext systems that insisted every link would be
> bidirectional, thereby preventing the power-law distributed link structure that builds
> a small-world network to connect the web and provides the basis for Pagerank. Being
> able to link to something without it having to give you permission by linking back is
> what enabled the web to grow.
> Making following asymmetric is similarly freeing for social relationships - it means
> you can follow authors or film stars without drowning them in friend requests, and
> get the same phatic sense of connection with them that you get from friends.

Another thing that you need with asymmetric "friends" is a way of "retweeting". This way you can flag up an item you find interesting, and have it appear in the activity streams of those who choose to follow you - i.e. your "public". That's how serendipitous discovery really happens, through recommendations from trusted personal networks, and not by wading through billions of public updates on the off-chance. In, this may already be possible using the like (and dislike?) buttons. You like something, and all your followers get "Anthony liked this ..." in their activity streams. Makes sense to me.
romasha May 14, 2010 01:50 PM
Agree. ReTweeting can be replaced in by - Voting + user activity
If a user likes an item, everyone who is following him/her would get to see the link/blog/wiki s/he liked and check it out. Voting could work like a recommendation and more users who check out that item through their follow stream, would like / dislike the item. While it spreads across streams in this manner, it would also make the rating of that item high bubbling it up in the Top rated list. I have added this as a feature request as well.
apbleonard May 06, 2010 01:46 PM
Hi Romasha,

Another thought on this. A user's friend list, and for that matter their profile information, is so central and crucial to an organisation that we need make this data integrateable. That is, if is to be the place where users manage their profiles and friend lists we need to be able to easily drag this data out of for re-use in other applications. Alternatively if is not the right home for this data we need to be able to push profile and friends data into for its use. Either way standards are what's needed here, and XFN and/or OpenSocial seems to fit the bill? Indeed exposing the whole of's social data (users, relationaships, groups and activities) via an OpenSocial API (which uses XFN to represent personal relationships) would be useful in lots of different ways. But as a start I'd love to see a feature request for support of backend integration (i.e. bulk or one-off import/export) of profile and friends data via some standard APIs or data formats if possible.

Perhaps a smaller step towards all this is to build on the fact you've already raised - that it is currently possible to filter your activity stream manually. I wonder whether the activity stream "portlet" could be customised "easily" - i.e. with some extra coding - to apply some filtering by default, e.g. using "friends" data supplied externally. Any thoughts on that?
romasha May 14, 2010 02:01 PM
Yes, the web is better when its social :)
Profiles have been our favorite subject and yes, we can expect an Open Social type API which enables you migrate your profile data in the future.
More information about the customized portlet in the related discussion :)
Keep your ideas coming, we'd love to hear them. It is your ideas and feedback that make such a cool product :)
apbleonard May 14, 2010 06:18 PM
Wonderful, thanks Romasha. It is always good to hear about future directions, and support for standards - especially when we (and our bosses) are thinking strategically about the future. Please keep us up to date with developments.
apbleonard May 10, 2010 05:40 PM
Hi Romasha,

Any more thoughts on this - particularly the last point?

Best wishes,