In the new age of open social networks, Six Apart is doing its part to create a hub that embraces the world of feeds outside its own servers. The company is shipping Action Streams, a free plug-in for Movable Type 4.1 that lets users aggregate, control, and share their Web activities from 75 applications, such as FaceBook, Twitter and Vox.
Six Apart prides itself on giving its users more control over their profile, such as showing or hiding individual actions,, that other services (remember Facebook Beacon). "We are starting a new wave of open technology with a Facebook style news feed," Anil Dash, vice president at Six Apart told me. "The implementation of open source and decentralized controls provides a way to leverage open standards and connections around a news feed. We don't need to wait for Facebook, Plaxo or FriendFeed--you can share whatever and you don't have to give up control."
"Action Streams is a good complement to OpenSocial APIs, which need to add capabilities," Dash continued. "Shipping is what matters. OpenSocial doesn't have a lot of meat--not to say that we wouldn't support it." OpenSocial APIs allow developers can create applications (widgets) that can access a social network's friends and update feeds.
Six Apart has endorsed OpenSocial and is part of the DataPortability Workgroup, which includes an A-list of social networking vendors and lofty goal of creating a reference design using existing open standards for end-to-end data portability. Getting the vendors to agree on a reference design and implement it is going to be a challenge, like herding cats.
Six Apart has been involved in developing other emerging standards, such Atom, OpenID, OAuth and Trackback, and is soliciting other vendors and developers to follow its lead with Action Streams. Given that Activity Streams is out in the wild and addresses some of the deficiencies of other news feed approaches, it should get some serious consideration.