In 2007 and 2011 I wrote a pair of articles where I tried to articulate my thoughts on what I saw as the dawning social web. The earliest article was about Google's OpenSocial API, and the latter, about what I saw as Google's new social network, built around profiles, rel=me and Buzz.
Neither came to pass. OpenSocial died a slow, painful death, while Buzz was kicked in the teeth, then taken out back and shot. But, what they demonstrated was Google's attempts at socialising the web itself. Of course, this dream died when Google+ was released as a Facebook-clone and Google returned to only being an advertising company.
But, others have continued working on freeing the web for us.
Individuals like Tantek Çelik, Barnaby Walters, Jeremy Keith and many others are ensuring that the content we create is recognised as ours, controlled by us and, in the end, owned by us. This work is best articulated by the IndieWeb principles.
One of the latest pieces of work developed by Jeremy Keith is webmentions.
Webmentions allows conversations, that would usually occur in comments, to take place on your own website. Pinging back responses to the original article allows readers to follow the discussion of articles and comments, while the content itself continues to be hosted on the respondent's website and owned by them - fulfilling the IndieWeb principles - while being reflected on the originator's site as part of the conversation.
Google Buzz performed this kind of aggregation and connection, in its day. It allowed conversations to happen across the web and be followed in one place.
Webmentions picks up where Buzz left off and adds the ability to host the conversation itself to the mix.
A fantastic tool that I can't wait to implement on my site.