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Social Networks Technology

Creating a Better Facebook 295

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the empty-is-not-god dept.
Fed up with Facebook's insatiable need to continue to expose your personal information to ever widening circles, four NYU students have decided to build an open source, distributed competitor to the social networking behemoth. They've raised a few grand, but I imagine it will be harder to convince your mom to log in.
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Creating a Better Facebook

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  • Social networks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @09:31AM (#32181492) Journal

    Unfortunately Facebook's power is in that everyone uses it, and that is what they use to get new users too. Alternative projects are a humble goal, but especially with social networks you are quite much locked in to a single existing network just because everyone else you know uses it, and they in turn use it because you use it too.

    Interestingly creating a network like this means you have convince everyone to forget about Facebook and move to this platform. Even if it would become successful, once these four students have millions of people in their social network, they most likely will change it the same way that Facebook did. Remember that Facebook also was a hobby project made by students.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ThePangolino (1756190)
      The difference is that Diaspora is to be released under the aGPL license. Making it free software. Free as in both free speech and free beer probably.
      • Re:Social networks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @10:16AM (#32182052) Homepage Journal

        I really don't get this. Everyone seems to be talking about Diaspora, which is still vaporware, when there are actual products that work right now. You can either go with the StatusNet [status.net] + plugins route (implementing OStatus), or you can choose OneSocialWeb [onesocialweb.org] (XMPP+extensions). Both are Free software. OSW is Apache licensed, FFS: how much more could you ask for?

        Both of these products actually exist and work now. StatusNet is mature. OSW is still alpha, but fairly complete. It would be much better for everyone to hitch their wagons to one of these than to support some college students who may or may not know what they're doing and whose goal appears to be to "scrape Twitter and Flickr." That will never work. You have to be able to post status updates, pictures, videos, and blogs all within the same interface and have people be able to comment on or "Like" directly from that same interface. You can't expect people to leave Facebook for something cobbled together from pieces and lacking half the functionality.

        I hope I'm wrong about this project.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Fnkmaster (89084)

          Interesting - OneSocialWeb looks like it has some promise to me. StatusNet seems like it's aimed at a somewhat different role, though it clearly exists already, and I see that there's overlap.

          OneSocialWeb needs to make sampling easy - open source is great, but just proclaiming the potential benefits and sticking up source code on a website isn't going to draw people, even geeky people like me, in. This is all still too early or too feature-incomplete to say "here it is, don't bother Diaspora guys, it's al

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Daengbo (523424)

            I realize that more has to be done to StatusNet than to XMPP to make a usable social network, and that they come at it from different angles, but both have key pieces already in place -- federation (which is hard), security, status, profiles, and plug-ins -- so I think either could be taken to the Facebook point with much less effort than starting a new project.

            I especially like the XMPP route because some providers already offer this service, and that means more leverage over FB. For example, GMail already

        • If it's done right, then various multiple social platforms can work together, instead of competing. That was supposed to be the goal of the OpenSocial API (which is implemented by OneSocialWeb, among others).

        • The real trick here is how they build the communications and privacy models - how much data is open, how do they share it, what can you do with it - and how that affects what kinds of features you can build using it. You could build something like Livejournal on a pretty tight system with no central data storage, but it'd be harder to find your ex-girlfriend's cousin's third-grade-teacher's dog's picture and send it a cute icon of a fire hydrant. Or if you build a system that's really good at both of tho

      • The difference is that Diaspora is to be released under the aGPL license. Making it free software

        ...and its whole architecture is distributed (as is the case of other opens-source social networks systems cited elsewhere).
        Just like Jabber, and other nice standard which emerged from opensource projects.

        Thus you could run one instance ("seed" in Diaspora parlance) on your own server.
        Or if you don't have the knowledge and/or resources to do it, create a profile on some Dispora-provider.
        As it's distributed and open, it will still let you communicate with other users from other seeds running elsewhere on the

    • Re:Social networks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by epiphani (254981) <<ten.lad> <ta> <inahpipe>> on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @09:39AM (#32181584)

      Its been done before - facebook is the new myspace is the new yahoo chat is the new geocities.

      If they get their idea nailed down well, with a clean, easy user interface and a simple deployment mechanism and method for growth with privacy in tact, they may have a shot at it.

      • Re:Social networks (Score:4, Interesting)

        by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @09:46AM (#32181648)

        All true, but things get harder and harder as the user bases in question grow. Geocities used to popular for example, but it's user base never encountered anything remotely resembling what Facebook currently has. It's the digital equivalent of inertia.

        • Re:Social networks (Score:5, Interesting)

          by NickFortune (613926) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @10:15AM (#32182044) Homepage Journal

          Geocities used to popular for example, but it's user base never encountered anything remotely resembling what Facebook currently has.

          Then again, MySpace did have a userbase comparable to Facebook. And yet it seems to have gone from being the the place to be to "are you still on myspace?" in a very short space of time.

          If social networks function in the same way as (say) eBay, then you'd be right. In that case the size of the user base is itself a resource that draws in more users. But suppose there's a different dynamic at work. Suppose it functions like a fashion accessory. Then users could prove a lot more fickle that you'd expect.

          A lot of the people driving adoption for new networks are kids. Then the parents follow so they can keep an eye on the children. Before long everyone's on the new network, and aside from a few die-hards, no-one wants to be seen dead on the old sites. And then the kids start looking for a place to hang out that their mums don't know about, and a new generation is coming up that doesn't want anything to do with what their big sister thinks is cool...

          I could be wrong, of course. But it would explain why none of the previous social networks have managed translate users into longevity.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Then again, MySpace did have a userbase comparable to Facebook. And yet it seems to have gone from being the the place to be to "are you still on myspace?" in a very short space of time.

            I think I know what to do: We need to get Rupert Murdoch to buy Facebook.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rudy_wayne (414635)

            Then again, MySpace did have a userbase comparable to Facebook. And yet it seems to have gone from being the the place to be to "are you still on myspace?" in a very short space of time. If social networks function in the same way as (say) eBay, then you'd be right. In that case the size of the user base is itself a resource that draws in more users. But suppose there's a different dynamic at work. Suppose it functions like a fashion accessory. Then users could prove a lot more fickle that you'd expect.

            So

      • by buswolley (591500)
        where's the new Google?
    • Re:Social networks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fnkmaster (89084) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @09:48AM (#32181670)

      People said the same thing about Friendster, for certain values of "everyone" at the time that Facebook started up. They said that MySpace was toast and that Friendster was taking off. Then Friendster just let the whole thing rot and people moved en masse to Facebook. It turned out it wasn't really that hard to pick up and move your social networking to another site - because really, most of the historical content was either not that relevant or not that hard to move.

      Now, Facebook has tried hard to make that less true with features with tagging of images that build up their own database of historical information that is a bit harder to move over to another site.

      But the reality is that like a club or social venue, the crowds can pick up and move to a new place when the last place becomes passe. And when your grandmother and your parents are all on Facebook, it's safe to say it's less cool than it used to be. More people, but because that network is now *so* broad, from people you went to school with, people you work with, your family, your parents, your kids, etc. it's hard to share anything but the lowest common denominator of information on there, especially with their continual stream of privacy gaffes. Which makes it distinctly less useful to many of us - more like a public website, less like a way to share information with friends.

      People can pick up and move to other social networking venues. They aren't realistically going to abandon Facebook of course, but they can add a new social networking venue and just not update their Facebook profiles as much. That's what I did with Friendster. Then after a while, when you notice that nobody else is updating their Friendster profiles either, it stops being interesting going there. As a result, I haven't logged in for probably two years now, but it was a slow withdrawal process.

      Don't overestimate the strength of Facebook's network effect. It's there, but it's not all-powerful. Shit on your customers for a while and alternatives will pop up, it's inevitable. I have no idea who will "win" in the long run and I don't think Facebook is going away anytime soon, but there is certainly still room for new entrants.

      I think the key is that "openness" in and of itself isn't a feature. There needs to be more of a killer feature to get people to try something new. An open social networking framework is geek-cool, but if there are one or two things you can functionally accomplish there that Facebook can't or doesn't offer, that will get people to sample the new product and consider adopting it.

      • Re:Social networks (Score:4, Interesting)

        by IntlHarvester (11985) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @10:15AM (#32182028) Journal

        The main reason Friendster died-off was because it couldn't scale up. After it hit a certain level of popularity, you couldn't even visit the site without it spewing MySQL errors or hanging for a minute on every page load. Meanwhile, they launched some half-baked plan to rewrite the whole thing in Java, while people were bailing from the site out of frustration.

        The other interesting thing about Friendster was the "friend-of-a-friend" privacy model. Which means if you weren't somehow connected to the active userbase, it did seem like a ghost town. That sort of model has its advantages, but it did limit network effects and probably accelerated the hipster effect of becoming too popular.

      • by thepike (1781582)

        I agree with almost everything you said. People can definitely switch over, it just won't be a one day thing. People are constantly switching from one service to another, but it takes a while for the balance to switch from one to the other.

        But I disagree about openness not being a feature. I think the point that could make this take off is that it is open. You get to host your own "node" of the network and choose what information you put on it. That will make it much more difficult to pull a switch lik

      • Re:Social networks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jarik_Tentsu (1065748) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @10:21AM (#32182136)

        Dunno about Friendster, but MySpace was somewhat different to Facebook. Sure, it was insanely popular with younger crowds, but I think the biggest difference was everyone used fake names. So to add someone on MySpace, people would need the person's username - "Hotchick577228" or whatever. On Facebook the norm is to use your real name. This means that people you meet in real life, log onto Facebook and try to add you - almost expecting that you'll have an account. Or at least, it's certainly that way at uni.

        The power isn't just that your friends use it, and other people use it, and you can give your username to them. The power of Facebook is the way anyone can search for your real name, with the probability that you have an account, and add you. The only way that's going to change if Facebook dies suddenly due to an external factor (legal, goes bankrupt, etc) and everyone moves to another alternative.

        Most people don't care about the sharing of private information really. I mean, the primary reason I signed up was I was sick of not being invited to events (which seemed to be completely planned on facebook). Are you going to protest the way Facebook handles your data by boycotting it, and boycotting half the social events that may pop up over time?

        It's no longer about being in this cool, online environment with your friends (MySpace) and more about an expected form of communication and networking - like a mobile phone, email address, etc.

        • Re:Social networks (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @12:33PM (#32183602)

          This is unfortunately exactly correct.

          I boycotted Facebook, until I realized it was negatively effecting my social life. Then I created an account with a fake name. It helped, but I was still getting excluded because few people knew my fake name. A lot of people seem to friend people their friends are already friends with after they meet them in some social context. That would never happen to me because they didn't see my actual name on their friends friend list.

          I finally gave in and created a Facebook account with my real name (and no other personal info). Within a week I was plugged in to all my friends networks of friends. I get invited to events all the time now, friends who never emailed will write on my Facebook wall, I am no longer "out of sight, out of mind". I meet new people and we get to know each other via Facebook updates, we get invited to the same events because of mutual friends, we become friends. It's had a noticeably positive effect on my social life.

          Basically, what it comes down to is that Facebook has leverage over your social life now. It's ingrained itself into our culture in a way that no previous social networking website has. With MySpace you didn't have to be a member if you wanted to get invited to the bar with your friends. With Facebook you have to be a member or else you will become unintentionally ostracized.

        • Re:Social networks (Score:5, Insightful)

          by drooling-dog (189103) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @01:01PM (#32183940)

          Are you going to protest the way Facebook handles your data by boycotting it, and boycotting half the social events that may pop up over time?

          The beauty (tragedy?) of FB and sites like it is that they've convinced us to turn over the management of our social lives and public identities to a private business, in exchange for... well, we're not quite sure what, yet. In the beginning it's a convenience, but then you find you can't have friends at all without them.

          And these people who won't invite you to their "events" if they have to shoot you an email... You call them "friends"?

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        "because really, most of the historical content was either not that relevant or not that hard to move."

        It's because it's not that relevant. Moving it not a problem because photos people already have on their pc.

        People really dont care about things that are more than 3 days old on social network sites.

    • by Cruise_WD (410599)

      [quote]Unfortunately Facebook's power is in that everyone uses it, and that is what they use to get new users too. Alternative projects are a humble goal, but especially with social networks you are quite much locked in to a single existing network just because everyone else you know uses it, and they in turn use it because you use it too.[/quote]

      Doesn't Facebook have an API? I'm fairly sure you could get a massive head start by allowing you to import contacts from, and cross-communicate with, Facebook via

    • by schon (31600)

      you have convince everyone to forget about Facebook and move to this platform.

      Why is that, exactly?

      What specifically is it about this project (or Facebook) that prohibits people from having accounts on both services at the same time?

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      facebook did it with Myspace. They pulled the majority of their users to facebook. the next big thing will suck facebook dry as well.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Just use a dummy profile and tell your friends (offline) to use email for most comm.

      My Facebook page tells visitors that it's light on info because it's not more than a point of contact.

    • Interestingly creating a network like this means you have convince everyone to forget about Facebook and move to this platform.

      Thing is this isn't equivalent to Facebook; it isn't a replacement-in-kind. Diaspora (sorry--Diaspora* whatever the asterisk means) seems to aspire to be a BETTER ALTERNATIVE. It is far to early to know how things will turn out as there is no complete and public implmenetation of their concept yet, however in my mind it is promising that there are motivated developers and financial backers who actually *GET* how the internet is supposed to work. See, so few people "get it" (and I fear that many powerful,

    • by MikeURL (890801)
      Let us remember exactly WHO sent people to Facebook. If we of slashdot can coalesce around one good alternative we can shift everyone that we shifted to facebook in the first place.

      On your other point a good alternative would be GPL'ed from the start so it would be easy to fork if the people running the project ran off the rails. If the source code isn't immediately available then we should boycott that startup until there is one that posts its source right at the point of creation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Da_Biz (267075)

      I'm going to replace a few words from the OP, using a little story from 1977:

      Unfortunately IBM's power is in that everyone uses it, and that is what Big Blue uses to get new users too. Personal computers are a humble goal, but especially with centralized computing you are quite much locked in to a single computing architecture just because everyone else you know uses it, and they in turn use it because you use it too.

      Interestingly creating personal computing means you have convince everyone to forget about

  • by pedantic bore (740196) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @09:41AM (#32181600)

    ... after the first few million users, it'll be awfully hard to resist the siren call of megalomania.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It will be decentralized. If engineered correctly, they will be incapable of doing what Facebook has done.

      Even if engineered poorly, they will be incapable of doing what Facebook has done (but the poor engineering will either cause it to fail or kill the privacy they're looking for.) The point is, no one will own it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by beef3k (551086)
      RTFA - this is decentralized, there is no centralized hub which registers/keeps track of millions of users, hence no siren call to heed
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @10:13AM (#32182000)

      Well, geeks. As a former geek turned millionaire I gotta tell you what the problem is.
      Basically, you start your project all open source, full of good ideas and nice feelings.
      Then it begins to grow, makes money, and then you are introduced to bleached hair playboy ascending models and penthouse pornstars that cost thousand grand to sleep one night with you and rock your world, because they just want to sleep with the next billionaire and prove to the other bitches they are the most expensive pussy in earth.
      So, then you need more and more money to keep paying for them and it becomes an addiction.
      So, you sell your soul to the devil and that is how it ends, just like facebook...

    • They have dis invested themselves by making it open source. Futher, if they ensure an interface between anyone hosting a piece of the social network instead of relying on it being a single site then no single operator has absolute control. If someone starts abusing what the public give them then they can move to a better operator. That is the problem with facebook. I admit it would be tricky to implement and the security would be more complex. But then at least then it would be a step forward instead of a c
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @09:42AM (#32181604)
    These guys just want extra cash for the project, without giving out a clear view about how the platform will work or run?

    A facebook-clone in 3-4 months? Very unlikely.
    • by gringer (252588)

      They already have the money they need to get this off the ground ($10,000). More pledged money is just icing on the cake.

  • by ZekoMal (1404259) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @09:42AM (#32181618)
    That is, essentially, how Facebook began. The only thing that is different is greed. As college students, they might want to protect privacy. As fresh out of college students, they might look at their massive college debt and start weighing their options. Before you know it, they're paying lip service to advertisers at the expense of their user base. But hey, at least they'll have Ruralville!
    • [...] and start weighing their options

      Ofcourse, now they want money to support themselves so they can run the project.
      Afterwards, if it works and would run (unlikely in that timeframe) they will want to make money out of it because "they put alot into it and need to maintain it".

      Not soon after, they'll want to make a fulltime living out of it, and try to come up with a way to make it "free" for users, yet try to find creative ways to make money off of it, like advertizing.

      After that, we get the same thing

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Or...Google finally has in their sights a young, cheap to buy social networking serive with bright future; for which they can ensure "not evil" state of affairs.

      • by ZekoMal (1404259)
        Nah, Google will release their own social network called Friendoogle, which we'll all already be members on because of all of the data mining they do. Social networks are data mining tools; Google hardly needs that. They'd rather do it after the fact, as an after thought really, out of the goodness of their non-evil hearts.
        • Google already has two social networks. How many more do they need?

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        It's called Orkut. google has had a Social site longer than facebook has existed.

        it's wildly popular outside the usa.

        • by sznupi (719324)

          Facebook is wildly popular (also) outside the USA. Orkut...pretty much only in Brazil and India.

  • The vast majority (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adustust (1650351) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @09:46AM (#32181654)
    Pay no attention to the amount of data they let loose upon their facebook pages. Nor do they care, as long as they can access their online farms. They're already giving out their credit card numbers to buy fuel for their tractors.
    • by Pojut (1027544)

      This always kind of confused me. I could understand it if we were talking about older folks, but many people my age (mid 20's) and many people younger (i.e. people that never knew of a world without Internet) know about the privacy complications, yet still don't care, or post stuff on Facebook with reckless abandon.

      I'm a frequent Facebook user (3-5 updates a day), but I never put anything on there I don't want the public to know. Like my parents taught me back in my IRC/ICQ/Yahoo Chat days: "If you don't

  • http://retromessenger.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] - serverless IM (finds IP of friends via DHT; apparently also has "push message to all friends" functionality, close enough to some social services)
    http://retroshare.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] - in the spirit of the above, but more of a "service" at this point - Chat & Filetransfer, searching friends, messages, Forums...encrypted, DHT
    http://tstone.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] - apparently strives to be a serverless VoIP cooperating with one of the above (generally they seem to be relate

    • Retroshare looks really good, maturity and technology-wise. The issue is that no-one cares about these platforms, i.e. they do not gain traction. The reasons for that is in my opinion:

      (1) A new social network has to be significantly better than the existing one people are currently using. Otherwise people won't register there too.
      - E.g. it has a cool feature: a game, a new form of interaction or discussion, etc.
      - It is not enough to be a copy that does pre

      • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @10:41AM (#32182368) Homepage Journal

        ctd.

        This is why distributed approaches like Diaspora/Retroshare/... will fail:

            - You have a problem publishing new versions of the software. You can't force new versions out, there will be incompatibilities between nodes, things will not 'just work'.
            - Privacy aside, you don't add value that Facebook hasn't.
            - Quality of the service: The development team or community will not provide a continuous, mature program version.
                * unless they have some business model on how to generate revenue from it.
            - No inspiration, or higher goal they strive to. They just do something existing a little bit better. But there is nothing fundamental about why one should use the new service. It is better in features, it is logical to use it. But that is not satisfactory.
            - Original developers will at some point stop maintaining the project, and not have gained enough other developers around them that continue development, maintenance and infrastructure on a high quality level.

        Please, Diaspora* team, prove me wrong. Read this and prove me wrong.
        If you can't, it is not the fault of your expertise, or skills as a programmer or software engineer. There is just more to it than developing a superior product.

    • PS. If you have something against publishing some of your personal info on FB...just don't give it to them.

      That doesn't do much. If you have friends who post, just about everything is going to end up on there anyway.

      Try this: sign up for Facebook with a new email account. Don't let them scrape your contacts. Add a few friends and wait. One day soon, you will log in and Facebook will show you a list of a bunch of email accounts and ask you which ones are yours. Most of them will be yours. It totally freaked

      • by sznupi (719324)

        That data was essentially public already...

        • What data are you talking about? Email addresses? Or the party photos your friend posted that have identified you with a helpful tag?

          Or are you talking about the data they collect if you happen to forget to log out of Facebook and surf around to sites displaying the Facebook Connect button? IMHO, that's one of the most sinister ways that Facebook collects data. I suppose technically you are still volunteering the data because you didn't log out. After all, if you didn't want them to know about other sites y

  • Who are getting pissed over privacy [wired.com]. I'm just unhappy (as a 45 year old) that I have to check my privacy settings weekly, and sometimes daily.

  • by Kozz (7764) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @10:04AM (#32181870)

    Saw this article this morning. Don't overlook the "dirty Unix joke" on the blackboard. ;)

    • There are no words to describe how amazingly awesome that is.

      I don't think they even want the project to go ahead; They just wanted to get the NYT to post Unix sex.

      Made. Of. WIN.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by that IT girl (864406)
        Although, as a female ./er, I'd like to point out that "finger" seems to be missing. Unless it's before "touch" and therefore out of sight, but that seems out of order. ;)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by MathiasRav (1210872)
      But... you can't fsck when the drive is mounted! That's all wrong!
  • by DeanLearner (1639959) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @10:06AM (#32181904)
    First everyone hosted their own site themselves (I believe this was the case? I didn't really do that part)
    Then everyone had sites hosted elsewhere (geocities)
    Then everyone had a page on a single site (facebook)
    Soon everyone will have their own facebook (diaspora)
    And then everyone will have their own... everything on their own server... kinda like Unite by... Opera! Always two steps ahead
    • Because first you did indeed host your own site, but YOU were a university or other large institution as they were the only ones to have access to the net.

      If you mean the unwashed masses with everyone then the first hosting was the home page, provided by your ISP.

      Geocities and the like came after that, when ISP's turned more towards low-cost and provided to little flexibility or capacity.

      Next up was the blog, the home-page re-invented.

      Myspace took a look in.

      I think that with ip6 we might actually indee

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @10:23AM (#32182166) Homepage

    Please apply 5 seconds' thought before getting all distributed up in my hizzizzy.

    For this service to be popular, Real People will have to use it, not just you, me and him over there.

    For Real People to use it, it will need to Just Work, First Time.

    To Just Work, First Time, it needs to rely on having a reliable server/seeder/aggregator/gateway present 100% of the time. Let's call it a metaserver, although it's just semantics. There needs to be one place where every peer goes to find out where other peers are.

    Who's going to run that default metaserver? Well, duh. The authors will run it.

    When - not if, when - they go Dark Side and release a client that injects ads or collates data, who's going to switch to a fork clients and a different metaserver and protocol version? That's right: you, and me, and him over there. Not Real People.

    If this takes off, then 99% of users will treat it exactly as they do Facebook, as a service that can (and will, eventually) do pretty much what it wants to them. Its success is predicated on being used by Real People, not you, me and him over there.

    You may now commence your explanations of why this time, it will be different, and Real People will care about the things that you, me and him over there care about. I apologise for the interruption.

    • by Rhaban (987410)

      For this service to be popular, Real People will have to use it, not just you, me and him over there.

      Yes.

      For Real People to use it, it will need to Just Work, First Time.

      Yes.

      To Just Work, First Time, it needs to rely on having a reliable server/seeder/aggregator/gateway present 100% of the time. Let's call it a metaserver, although it's just semantics. There needs to be one place where every peer goes to find out where other peers are.

      No.

      The key is to make it work like e-mail: if you want to add a friend, you use his personnal identifier and the server he is registered on.

      Anybody can set up an e-mail server, and it will instantly work and anybody will be able to send e-mail to users registered there. This project must work the same way.

      • by cabjf (710106)
        Even if it works like email, the system would just end up with a small group of gatekeepers instead of just one. Sure you could set up your own, but how many people run their own server, locally or hosted? The distributed part of this is nice, in theory. I think a better way to go at it would be a foundation run project. Take away the desire to make as much money as possible, and put the focus on delivering the best product possible.
        • by Rhaban (987410)

          That would be the best way to gather a lot of people discussing how the product should be, and never actually deliver anything.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Not everyone sells out. Look at craigslist. Just sayin.
    • by dunezone (899268)

      Just Work, First Time.

      Cuil

  • About what happens if Google ever goes under and their gmail messages are sold to corporations who want to mine them for compromising information.

  • The main "selling point" of this project can not be its opensourceness in itself, because very few people really care about that.
    This project must have something more than facebook, some functionnalities never seen before. And those are realy difficult to come up with.

    The idea of a decentralized service, where anybody can set up his own server, is actually a really good ground on which new ideas can germ.

    The goal should not only be to create a networked facebook, but to create a network of socialnetworkin s

  • http://theoatmeal.com/comics/websites_stop

    Pretty much covers it.

  • I just love the irony that to support them you have the option of loging in via your Facebook details ;)

    It's a darn tough sell, but I threw them $5 - why not? If it comes together, it would be a fantastic Wikipedia-esque next-step of social networking. On the other hand, if Buzz can't do it...

  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @10:54AM (#32182496) Homepage

    That's a bad thing?

    This Easter I was BSing with the various family members after dinner. And my sister started getting on my teenage niece's case about some boy on her Facebook page and the teen-related shenanigans mentioned. Minor shit -- a kiss.

    I finally looked at my sister and asked her if she recalled being that age. I recall my sister at that age, and let's just say our mom would have been elated if she could have kept her activities down to raunchy (as opposed to nasty).

    Teens need liberated from Facebook. No one needs their goddamned parents breathing down their neck just because last night their boyfriend was breathing down their neck.

    • Teens need liberated from Facebook. No one needs their goddamned parents breathing down their neck just because last night their boyfriend was breathing down their neck.

      I'd wager that the current crop of kids is the most supervised and tightly controlled of any generation, ever. The 50s were as oppressive as hell (and hence the rebellion of the 60s), but even then you could evade the scrutiny of parents, teachers, and "friends" at least a good part of the time. Will we wake up one morning only to realize that what felt like liberation was something else entirely?

  • by dns_server (696283) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @11:00AM (#32182546)

    There are quite a few projects to create this:

    http://www.elgg.org/ [elgg.org] though it is not distributed (they are working on it)

    http://onesocialweb.org/ [onesocialweb.org] is xmpp based, i have set up my own instance.

    http://groups.fsf.org/wiki/Group:GNU_Social [fsf.org] has just started and is a gnu project.

    There are some standards to help this kind of thing but most are not complete.
    you may want to look into foaf for storing a social graph for example.

    Please chat with other people if you find this interesting.
    IRC chat: #social on freenode

  • by Statecraftsman (718862) * on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @11:12AM (#32182696) Homepage
    To me, software freedom is being able to choose and customize the software I use without limit. With applications like Facebook, I cannot of course do any more customizing than the Facebook allows me to. The FSF tried to address this problem with the AGPL and many web applications have rightfully chosen it as a way to give users freedom online. Unfortunately there's a rather big part of the equation that the AGPL and the four traditional freedoms miss. It's that our data is often stuck inside even AGPLd applications. If we want to have true freedom online we need The Freedom to Migrate [trygnulinux.com] and it seems Diaspora is trying to provide.
  • by cwgmpls (853876) on Wednesday May 12, 2010 @11:16AM (#32182740) Journal
    Drupal [drupal.org] has been providing open-source community plumbing for years.
    • by jittles (1613415)
      wow! You can keep your open source plumbing! I don't want to have a look at the source of anything you'll find in there!
      • by cwgmpls (853876)

        Then use Atrium [openatrium.com] or Acquia [acquia.com]. Both provide turn-key social sites built on Drupal.

        The point is, these guys are going to be spending 90% of their time writing behind-the-scenes functionality to make everything work, and 10% making it look good and easy to use. Drupal already provides the first 90%. If they really believe in open source, they could be contributing to work already done and making it better -- and end up with a better product than they could do on their own.

        Sure, these guys are young and have

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