The Augmented Social Network is a proposal for a "next generation" online community that would strengthen the collaborative nature of the Internet, enhancing its ability to act as a public commons that engages citizens in civil society. The ASN creates an infrastructure for trusted relationships across the entire Internet -- enabling innovation in democratic governance, alternative economics, and social organization of all kinds. The ASN is not a piece of software or a website. Rather, it is an online community system in the public interest that could be implemented in a number of ways, using technology that largely exists today. The ASN is a system designed to help you find others with whom you share affinities so you can be introduced to them (in an appropriate manner), and then share media with them, or form groups based on shared interests. Importantly, the ASN would facilitate this by connecting people across traditional social, geographic, or technical boundaries. It takes the positive power of the Internet today one step further.
The white paper (pdf) by Ken Jordan, Jan Hauser, and Steven Foster describes the concept in full detail, but to my quick reading, it sounded as if a lot of the ideas have been made real in weblog technology. Blogs don't get to the full idea of selectively querying Friends and Friends of Friends, but they provide the capability to get your questions and ideas spread through a network of like-minded people in a new way. The white paper expands the idea beyond knowledge sharing, to identity and community-forming. And here is an interview with Ken Jordan on the topic from the nettime-l mailing list.
I am not the only one to make this connection or to blog ASN.
Stuart Henshall discussed their white paper back in June 2003. Check this link for links to some of his other thinking on the topic.
In a world of increasing hyperconnectivity, how will augmented social networks impact on innovation? Is your current dogma for Radical Innovation collaborative and spiritual enough to make a meaningful transformation? How will your communities best be served -- strategically and through what architecture to facilitate the change?
Claudia writes about social networks and ASN as a goal state in It's a Small World, or Isn't It?: "The internet and these social tools are just amplifiers to a natural phenomenon; people are social actors who interconnect and share contacts and knowledge."
Marc Canter likens ASN to his Community Commons architecture (interesting graphic).
There is also a TopicExchange channel for ASN, but it has been inactive since June 2003.