Core idea of the Social Desktop is to connect to your peers in the community, making sharing and exchanging knowledge easier to integrate into applications and the desktop itself. The concept behind the Social Desktop is to bring the power of online communities and group collaboration to desktop applications and the desktop shell itself.
This sounds exactly like the stuff I was talking about back in GUADEC 2003. I was there on behalf of OSCOM to see how the free desktop could be integrated with the various open source content management and collaboration systems developed by OSCOM members. It is great to see these ideas finally gain some traction.
There are many specifications to help us get there:
- OCS API caters for sharing things like activities, messages, and even file contents
- Tomboy API provides synchronization and sharing of notes, with some existing implementations like Snowy and its Midgard equivalent
- Atom Publishing Protocol was used by Nokia's Lifeblog tools
- Telepathy's peer-to-peer collaborative model is used in OLPC Sugar
- ...and of course WebDAV handles managing web content, potentially more usefully through Neutron introspection
With these the free desktop might become more than just an isolated island.
Such collaborative features will make the free applications much more compelling to users, especially if coupled with web interfaces that can be used when away from your own computer. Being built on open source server software and open standards they can be hosted by companies, schools, or even Linux distributions, instead of tying users to the big cloud vendors.