My friend Marc Canter has written a series of blog posts outlining the issues, constructs, technologies, and standards required to build out an "open mesh," as he put it. It's a kind of unified field theory for the Web.
Canter has been an evangelist for a Web without walled gardens. He also has a financial stake in the open mesh. He runs a company called Broadband Mechanics that has developed a white label social network and Web site creation service that depends on open standards.
The open mesh is not Microsoft's Live Mesh. The open mesh is "made up of vendors, standards, and glue code that connects a wide range of services, applications, and platforms together," Canter said. And, it has identity at the center:
"The key foundation set of constructs, web services and APIs to support when building the mesh - is the area of profiles, personas, friendships, relationships, social graphs and groups. It all starts with humans and every construct, element and component of the open social web we're building has to do with people."
"Coming out of all this is an awareness of a new kind of infrastructure - which simulates the blood veins, nervous systems, skeletons, fire hose and neural networks of the open mesh. Its about RSS, Friendfeeds, XMPP, attention, two-way APIs, OpenID, DNS-like backbones and an international approach."
Canter recognizes that a completely unified and open mesh is more theory than practice:
"No one wants to give up control of their technology - so (by definition) the open mesh must be made up of a combination of open, free protocols and technologies with proprietary APIs and technologies."
At this juncture the underlying plumbing, or mesh, for the social Web is under construction. It's a good time to bring the issues to the forefront, before the mesh blocks out more than it lets in.