Social Networking with Enemies
Have you ever wondered why you can only make "friends" in social networks? At best, you are able to neutrally "connect". Everything about people you don't like is politely ignored - they normally don't even get a message when you turn down their friendship request.
This thinking that the world only consists of nice people being friendly to each other is of course very childish. From the early philosophers over the founders of modern sociology to Karl von Clausewitz's writings on war, we have learned that society is as well structured by conflicts and less nice attitudes towards each other. So, if we really want to build a social graph that represents all relationships among all people*, we have to model enemies and antagonistic relations as well.
So, I was glad to read that humankind has made big progress. Based on XFN (XML Friends Network), we now have a list of specifications for XEN (XML Enemies Network):
XEN is an extension of XFN. Negative relationship terms have been omitted from XFN by design. (...) XEN values can be used in conjunction with microformats such as hCard, rel-nofollow and vote-links, specificallyThis feature actually might be nice for political activism. You are looking for people who might want to protest with you against the much hated surveillance-enhancing interior affairs minister? No problem, just look for his enemies.
The interesting byproduct of asserting these relationships correlates to the ancient proverb, "Any enemy of my enemy is my friend". By merging the XEN lists, it should be possible to generate XFN relationships on the fly based on shared enemies.
A few examples:
evil-twin: An evil twin is the concept in fiction of someone equal to a character in all respects, except for a radically inverted morality. Symmetric. If the evil twin is literally a twin brother or sister, it should be combined with the XFN value of sibling.Of course, you sensed it:
rival: Someone in the same field of study/activity with whom you are vying for recognition and/or advancement. Often symmetric.
nuisance: Someone who annoys you but not to the point of antagonism.
XEN is not a microformat. It is a joke.But like any good joke, XEN tells us a lot about the difficulties of modeling social relations. It even reflects the fact that there can be several different versions of yourself being represented online - think the drunk yourself at the proverbial facebook picture:
The evil twin value can be applied to a version of yourself from an alternate universe or timeline.You can now - thanks to XEN - tell everybody, and especially your boss, that you hated what you did and even regret the fact that were at that party in the first place. And you can do it with microformats! Now, that is identity management at its current peak.
*The social graph is an idea I don't particularly like, but that is a different story.