There’s a good reason for the “@“ character in the middle of your email address. It separates the two parts: your user name and your web site. Someday you might see something similar on social networking sites – Mark Zuckerberg could write on Facebook and mention Jack Dorsey “hey email@example.com” and Jack could write back from Twitter “hi firstname.lastname@example.org!” — that would be the Silicon Valley equivalent of Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson’s first telephone call. When small social networks like Twitter and Google Plus start to interoperate with open source networks and blogs, they could eventually form a large enough base of users to “flip the iceberg” and have more usage than the dominant, non-interoperable player: Facebook.
On micro-blogs like Twitter, the @mention (“at-mention”) is the way to link to another micro-blogger by user name. Facebook has a similar mention feature for calling out friends by name. But these versions of mention technology are missing the “web site” aspect, because they only work within one site.
On open source micro-blogs like Mastodon, cross-site mentions are already working – and for blogs it’s easy to install a Webmention plugin. These are the beginnings of what could eventually be a large collection of sites interoperating.
In 2008 the micro-blogging community proposed that Twitter interoperate with the micro-blog networks of the time. Twitter today could allow Mastodon and Micro.blog users to “follow” updates from its micro-bloggers. The Twitter search engine could aggregate updates from many different networks. Micro-blogging at Twitter would be a first-class open web experience, if it interoperated with other micro-blogs.
Open source tools like WordPress, 1999.io and Mastodon.social are creating many small networks of publishers, and popular tools like Twitter and Micro.blog could peer with them. If all of the social networks outside of Facebook interoperated at some level, they might eventually “flip the iceberg” and become the dominant form of social networking.