Chris Messina was in Toronto last week and ran a full day workshop on social web technologies at the Centre for Social Innovation. He had delivered a talk the night before called "Identity is the Platform" (slides) and the workshop focused on many of the same topics. The simplest way that I can think of to explain the premise of both is: 1) The web is becoming more social and 2) The data you create on the web has value.
The workshop was fairly interactive with people from the audience asking questions or raising points every so often. It was a pretty diverse group professionally speaking, made up mostly of software developers, technologists, designers and some marketing people. The material wasn't very technical, which I found disappointing, but given the crowd it was the only thing that made sense (I guess for some reason I expected more developers).
The real take-away of the workshop was an overview of various open standards and protocols that can be used together as a sort of Open Web stack. The usual suspects were discussed: OpenID, OAuth, PubSubHubub and a few that were fairly new to me: Portable Contacts, Activity Streams and the Salmon Protocol. Chris also spoke a bit about the Mozilla Drumbeat project which certainly looks interesting.
At the end of the workshop we got into groups and brainstormed about how social web technologies could be used to create a better web. I co-opted my group to talk about how FreshBooks (my employer) could be made more social. Some really interesting ideas were brought up and I think it's a great case study for working with a community that already exists (as opposed to building a community for a new social application).
The workshop was great. I'm glad I had the opportunity to participate and I definitely came away with a few thoughts and ideas. For one, it could be a worthwhile project to document existing or create new open source projects that use open web technologies. Often it's easy to find sample code, but it's usually stripped down and not very useful. Real, concrete examples from open source projects could be extremely useful for developers looking to implement support for open technologies and protocols.