Activity Streams is an extension of the Atom/RSS Feed format, a format that has become a somewhat mainstream part of the modern web.
While RSS feeds include just a title, link, some metadata and a description (a little more in atom feeds), Activity Streams takes things a step further by including a verb and an object type – resulting in intent and meaning and a way to syndicate a user’s activities.
The standard has seen great success and sites like Facebook, MySpace, Windows Live, Google Buzz, SixApart have all been involved in developing it – lead and advocated by Chris Messina. Today sees possibly the most mainstream site of them all (ok, maybe apart from Facebook) join the party and support the format, the BBC.
Do skim this presentation if you’re interested in learning more about the basics of Activity Streams or read more here.
In addition to Activity Streams, the BBC has also deployed the FOAF (Friend of a Friend) format which, in the simplest of terms, supplies information that describes a person’s activities and their relations to other people and objects. Essentially it allows social networks to be built without the need for a centralised database and will provide sites – such as the BBC – with the ability to target content to the specific user, find friends and more.
Currently (as far as I know) only Identi.ca, MyBlogLog, FriendFeed and TypePad have deployed the format. With the BBC now doing so, this is a significant step towards the Semantic Web and Sir Tim Berners Lee’s vision of the Giant Global Graph.
H/T to Sam Sethi for the heads up.