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We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello 269

Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: Facebook threatened to banish drag queen pseudonyms, and (some) users revolted by flocking to Ello, a social network which promised not to enforce real names and also to remain ad-free. Critics said that the idealistic model would buckle under pressure from venture capitalists. But both gave scant mention to the fact that a distributed social networking protocol, backed by a player large enough to get people using it, would achieve all of the goals that Ello aspired to achieve, and more. Read on for the rest.

At the end of September, "FacebookDragQueenGate" fell from the sky like a gift from the gods to the founders (and venture capital backers) of the Ello social network. The company promised not only to remain ad-free and to allow drag queen stage names, but even stated that they planned to allow pornographic content (something that received relatively little press, compared to the ad-free model). But critics such as Aral Balkan wrote that once Ello received venture capital funding, the backers would inevitably pressure the company to change its relationship with its users in order to make money. In an interview published in Forbes on Monday, Harvard Business School professor John Deighton was blunt: "The board will need to monetize the membership in whatever fashion ensures a profitable return of capital for the venture fund’s investors. So my advice, if they believe Ello is still viable by then, is to buy out [Paul Budnitz, the idealistic founder who came up with the 'no ads' idea]."

There is, in short, nothing to stop Ello from doing what Facebook does whenever they make a significant change to their Terms of Service: presenting users with a dialog box next time they sign in, saying, "These are the new rules, by checking this box, you are agreeing to abide by the new contract which you're not going to read." If Ello succeeds beyond its founders' dreams, then its ad-free nature might start to hinge on its founders all turning down buyout offers of tens of millions of dollars to stick to their ideals -- hardly a sure thing. Or the VCs might get enough seats on the board that they can outvote the founders and render their objections moot.

As Joshua Kopstein writes in an editorial for Al-Jazeera America, what really would have changed the game would have been a distributed, decentralized social network. I already wrote two pieces arguing that a distributed social network could work, and how -- a protocol that allows users to create profiles, "status" posts, groups, events, and other familiar social networking features as "objects" that live on their own server, but that can interact with users' profiles hosted on other servers. I don't want to re-hash all the details here, but the short version is that there seems to be nothing about social networks, as we currently use them, which would require all of the data to be stored in a single centralized system. In a distributed protocol, you could host your profile with any hosting company, and users could "subscribe" to updates from your profile, as well as the ability to receive invites to your events and your groups, and direct messages from you. Think RSS feeds, but with better support for well-defined objects like "event invites".

If your profile were linked to a domain name that you own, then if your existing hosting company ever deleted your profile (or threatened to), you could simply move your profile to a new hosting company, the same way that any person or company can currently switch their domain name between hosting providers. This, obviously, would instantly render moot any one company's policies about "real names" (or porn, for that matter) -- all you have to do is find at least one company, anywhere in the world, whose policies are permissive enough to host your profile, and that should be possible for all but the most extreme or illegal content.

This also renders moot all the worries about profile hosting companies trying to amass tens of millions of users and then stabbing them in the back, by changing the terms of service to allow them to sell user data or stuff unwieldy ads down their throat. When users can switch seamlessly between hosts, no one host is going to be able to "charge" more than the going market rate for hosting a profile (where "charging" could be in the form of monetary payment or displaying ads to the user). How much would it actually cost to host a profile for the typical user these days, complete with all their photos and status updates? It's hard to know, because other than university professors, nobody really has personal webpages any more, after they all went to MySpace and then to Facebook. But since the old days when people did actually host their own personal pages, hosting and serving data has gotten really, really cheap. For the average user, with a few hundred photos and a few hundred friends looking at them, $1 per year might be enough. Maybe they'd just have to watch one of those ads once a year that Youtube puts in front of a Beyoncé music video, and that would cover it.

Unfortunately, to many people the concept of distributed social networking is linked with the failure of Diaspora, the most ambitious attempt to create a decentralized protocol to compete with the likes of Facebook. But Diaspora didn't fail because the idea lacked merit; it almost certainly failed because people asked the same question that they asked of any other upstart Facebook competitor: Why should I join, when all of my friends are on Facebook instead? Of course people might reasonably asked the same question about Google+, but when Google launches a product, people join because they know the quality will be decent, they know that probably some of their friends will join because of the Google brand, and they know people will be buzzing about it anyway so they want to join in order to see what the big deal is.

And that brings up the story's second moral: Despite what you may have heard from your cousin who just read The Fountainhead, the products that are the most successful are not necessarily the best, by any objective measure; rather, they're usually the ones that had major backing (Google+) or were the beneficiaries of a staggering lucky break (Ello). Diaspora didn't take off, because it didn't have either one of these.

And since you cannot manufacture a lucky break, I continue to believe that the last best hope for truly free social networking -- with minimal censorship, and ads and costs kept to a minimum by market competition -- would be for a major player like Google to launch a social networking protocol, and to set up themselves as the default host for new profiles, but allowing the protocol to interoperate seamlessly with profiles hosted elsewhere. Either that, or if the system is launched by a startup or a nonprofit, make sure that you have a host of widely respected luminaries or organizations standing ready to help promote it -- if the EFF and the BoingBoing guys endorsed a new social networking system as the future of Internet freedom, people would join because it would seem uncool not to. As long as the product itself is functional, just have the right connections lined up when you launch it. Because that's what matters, and don't let the deluded ghost of Ayn Rand tell you otherwise.

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We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello

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  • Wasn't that called MySpace???

    • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday October 23, 2014 @02:16PM (#48215311) Homepage Journal
      Who needs social networks online?

      I've never been on one (don't really consider /. to be one), am not missing anything. I still interact with my many friends in meatspace, or the occasional phone call, text or email.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You old people crack me up.

        • You old people crack me up.

          No, honestly, you arrived pre-cracked.

          It may well, somehow, be our fault that you are cracked, but it an absolute certainty that our habits of actually talking to people are superior to yours of sitting at a table or walking down the street with your friends, looking only at your phones, as you busily talk to anyone but the people you're actually with.

      • "Cayenne8, prepare yourself for transfer to re-education camp ZuckerPage-9 by creating your required Facebook and Google+ accounts. Failure to do so will result in your being relocated to a trailer down by the river."
      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Thursday October 23, 2014 @04:13PM (#48216047) Homepage Journal

        actually I have to disagree. It is so much easier to stay connected to friends that have long moved away and to reconnect with friends that move back. Of course I am older than most people on Slashdot so yes I have friends that moved away 15 years ago and then move back to town that I want to reconnect with.
        It is makes me feel more connected with my brother that lives 3 hours away to see his posts daily on facebook. I do call and talk with him a couple of times a month but with facebook it is daily.
        Of course I used to do the same thing with email but email is less popular than it once was.

        • actually I have to disagree. It is so much easier to stay connected to friends that have long moved away and to reconnect with friends that move back. Of course I am older than most people on Slashdot so yes I have friends that moved away 15 years ago and then move back to town that I want to reconnect with. It is makes me feel more connected with my brother that lives 3 hours away to see his posts daily on facebook. I do call and talk with him a couple of times a month but with facebook it is daily. Of cou

      • I felt that way until my child's teacher decided FB was the right way to disseminate information about classroom activities.

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Thursday October 23, 2014 @01:20PM (#48214769)

    Especially if it can be used to shield Bennett's posts from my eyes

    Hell .. I'm getting tempted to pay for such a service if Bennet would move his blog there

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe we can pay Bennett directly to move his blog somewhere else.

      Or maybe we can pay timmy to stop posting Bennett's posts.

      Or maybe we can pay someone to write a greasemonkey script to hide Bennett's posts.

      Money makes the world go 'round.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ello have covenanted themselves in a legally binding way so that they cannot ever have ads or show other people's ads, and so that they are required to make imposition of the same covenant terms on any buyer a condition of sale.

    So, no, they can't just do what facebook did, and neither can anyone they sell to.

    I do wish Diaspora had taken off though. That seemed quite good. Needed a bit of polish, but definitely promising. Never got the critical mass though.

    • Diaspora needed more than a bit of polish, and that may have contributed to its lack of uptake. If you want to convince people to switch from FB to your network, you better have an amazing user experience. For the inexperienced user who isn't interested in setting up a server themselves, it needs to have the same ease of use as a centralized social network. And with those users now at least somewhat aware of privacy-related issues, you had better be able to offer them some assurances as to the safety of
      • Diaspora needed more than a bit of polish,

        That's an interesting euphemism for the fact that the code was horrendous from a security prospective.

        • BTW, that was agreeing with you Jared. The notion that it just needed "a bit of polish" is hilarious.

        • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

          Indeed.

          I already made a fairly lengthy post about this above, but for advertising security as a killer feature, it became very clear that they had no clue what they were doing. It wasn't that they missed a few bugs, it was that their fundamental design didn't incorporate anything more complex than "check if the user is logged in before doing stuff". You can't just fix that.

    • by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Thursday October 23, 2014 @03:59PM (#48215967)

      Needed a bit of polish, but definitely promising. Never got the critical mass though.

      Understatement! Diaspora was a complete mess.

      Security was the problem everyone focused on. Good security is built in at a foundation level and a fundamental component to the entire design and implementation.

      Generally when you are talking about a secure application, you have a primitive layer which does authentication and data access, and a layer on top of that which provides logic and user interface with all data access going through that first layer using some kind of authentication token. In this way, a small bug in say, the image upload script, won't let you do much because all operations through the primitive secure layer require an authentication token, which limits the scope of what those operations can do (to say, the logged in user).

      Shitty security, like what diaspora had, basically does checks at the top layer (is this user logged in? good.. run this query!). The problem with this is that a small bug _anywhere_ gives you full access to _anything_, which is precisely what was happening. Sure you can patch those small bugs as you find them, but there will always be more.

      In other words, it wasn't that diaspora had some security bugs or needed some polish, it was that security wasn't an integral part of the software, which can't really be fixed without a complete rewrite.

      The less focused on problem was that the thing wasn't built to a specification, they just kinda started coding it. If you want to build something open and interoperable, that's not how you do it!

      And then the main problem was that it had no killer feature to attract users. It did what the other two established offerings did, except without the established user base. Being full of security holes and having no api arn't really thinks most users care about, yet it still failed to gain any kind of adoption.

      I honestly felt kind of sad for the team (one of whom apparently killed himself, possibly over stress of the whole thing). They were all very inexperienced, and we've all at some point said "hah, I could write a better <something> in a few weeks!" at that point in our careers. Usually we take a crack at it, realize we are in way over our heads, and it dies quietly. These guys got a shit tonne of attention, were obligated to produce something they didn't have the skills to produce, and then basically crashed and burned before us all.

  • But ... who should back it, and why? Who has a financial interest in you actually retaining a figment of privacy?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You have just read the latest entry in "Bennett Haselton Cares..."

      I, for one, say we do not

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 23, 2014 @01:24PM (#48214807)

    ...this fucking guy again?

  • No we don't (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ebcdic ( 39948 )

    We don't need social networks at all.

  • Who "needs"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stevez67 ( 2374822 ) on Thursday October 23, 2014 @01:24PM (#48214815)
    I love when someone writes drivel assuming what they think is what everyone needs or wants.
  • Two articles in a row about ello? Anyway, as usual, BH is overthinking things.

    >> If your profile were linked to a domain name that you own, then if your existing hosting company ever deleted your profile (or threatened to), you could simply move your profile to a new hosting company,

    Duh...we already have a widely-adopted system to personally identify most people. It's called a "cell phone number," and we already have the mechanisms to transfer it between companies. Roll up an identification and au

    • No, because it is not an obvious compound word, so it cannot be easily MisSpelled in CamelCase CorporateSpeak.
  • Idiotic premise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 23, 2014 @01:25PM (#48214831)

    Since when is it a requirement to sell ads in order to make a profit? Since when is "selling ads" the only way to make a profit? The entire premise is idiotic, because it presumes that "selling ads" is the only way to achieve cash flow.

    If you create a service, and price it reasonably, you can charge a subscription / membership fee, and have a perfectly profitable business.

    I pay for services all the time, why should an online service be any different?

    • Re:Idiotic premise (Score:5, Insightful)

      by machineghost ( 622031 ) on Thursday October 23, 2014 @01:46PM (#48215049)

      If you create a service, and price it reasonably, you can charge a subscription / membership fee, and have a perfectly profitable business.

      I pay for services all the time, why should an online service be any different?

      There is very little evidence that that is true if you look at services on the web today. To the contrary, ads very often are the only way entire industries can profit on the web. Take newspapers: with only a handful of exceptions like the WSJ, every major newspaper in the country has had to switch to an entirely ad-supported model on the web, abandoning all their old subscription profits.

      I'm not saying a paid Facebook-like service is impossible, just that there's (relatively) scant evidence that one could succeed.

      • >> with only a handful of exceptions like the WSJ, every major newspaper in the country has had to switch to an entirely ad-supported model on the web, abandoning all their old subscription profits.

        Hmmm...I think the pendulum has swung the other way now, with most major-market US newspapers now allowing up to X stories a month ads for free, then charging a subscription price to get more.

      • Newspapers are a bad example, as is online TV, because both their non-internet incarnations are predominantly ad-funded anyway...

        Pick a service that's subscription-based in real life, and there are often plenty of successful paid online versions of it...

    • If there was a truely open, distributed, social platform/framework, I could totally see it being coupled with email accounts. Some email services are paid, some are free. The provider could either have ad supported service, or paid, or both.

      The fact you would have a choice in where your data is held, is the important part, though.

      • I could totally see it being coupled with email accounts

        Yes, if either via a separate program or as part of an existing service, everyone had a personal mailing list, the 'social network' aspects would be separated from the transportation method. You would 'follow' someone by sending them a subscribe message (or your app would do it when you clicked a button).

        A reader could display a digest of all such mails from the people you follow (maybe sorted by tags added to headers).

        Someone without any specialized program could still subscribe and get your mails. Convers

  • So much stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger&gmail,com> on Thursday October 23, 2014 @01:25PM (#48214841)

    The problem with this recent crop of op-ed's is that it gives the editors the perfect to show off how much they don't know or understand. For instance, the pot-shot at Randian capitalism (disclaimer: I'm no fan of Rand and I'm pretty sure she would hate my guts) tells me that he has never actually read Ayn Rand, and if he did, did not understand what he was reading.

    the products that are the most successful are not necessarily the best, by any objective measure

    There IS no objective measure. One man's trash, yadda yadda yadda. The most successful products meet the most demand at the most sustainable price and supply. Period.

    And since you cannot manufacture a lucky break

    Bullshit. No one gets sucess by happy accident and remains so. Lottery winners lose their money within months. The coolest invention with a bad business model goes kaput. The richest tech guys toiled in a basement or garage or dorm room for years on end before they got their break. No one succeeds without busting their balls and working hard. Luck plays a factor. Luck can open a window, but it can't make you successful.

    As long as the product itself is functional, just have the right connections lined up when you launch it. Because that's what matters, and don't let the deluded ghost of Ayn Rand tell you otherwise.

    I don't even know what to make of this ignorant word salad. Pick up a book and read it sometime.

    • There IS no objective measure.

      Of course there are objective measures of product quality: Which vehicle is the most energy efficient? Which vehicle, on average, lasts the longest without needing major repairs? Which phone has the best battery life? And on and on. TFA's point was that the products that end up "winning" in the market are not necessarily better than their competitors by these objective standards. That is in perfect agreement with your statement about which products succeed.

      No one succeeds without busting their balls and working hard.

      Really? It's not very hard to think of count

      • by halivar ( 535827 )

        TFA's point was that the products that end up "winning" in the market are not necessarily better than their competitors by these objective standards.

        Then those objective measures do not actually indicate consumer value, which is what we're really talking about when we say "best".

        Off the top of my head, some of the "famous for being famous" celebrities come to mind.

        Most celebutants do indeed crash and burn. We see it all the time. A fool and his money, and all that. If you refer to Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton, then as much as I am loath to say this, they are brilliant marketers offering a product that their intended market simply can't get enough of. Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes lacked this business acumen, so they turned into cautio

  • by Lilith's Heart-shape ( 1224784 ) on Thursday October 23, 2014 @01:28PM (#48214875) Homepage

    It was called the World Wide Web. People made their own websites with their own domains. If they liked something, they linked to it They communicated on mailing lists or web forums or by IM or IRC. All the tech is still there, and we can go back to using it instead of feeding our lives into one corporate silo after another.

    Bring back the independent Web! [indiewebcamp.com]

    • by daemonhunter ( 968210 ) on Thursday October 23, 2014 @02:03PM (#48215193)

      Agreed.

      As I read this article, I was reminded of the push back in the 90's to get off the corporate networks (Compuserve, AOL, etc.) where data and people were walled off from opposing networks, and dive into the World Wide Web. At some point the pendulum swung back towards the value brought by corporate networks, the biggest of which seems to be ease of construction compared to traditional web design.I first noticed the shift with community sites like angelfire/geocities and then moving towards social networks, where you just add content.

      Now the pendulum is swinging back again because the cost/value equation in favor of corporate networks makes less sense (specifically, we didn't realize the consequences of selling ourselves and our data for 'free' services until it was too late.).

      • I'd mod you up, but I can't in this thread for obvious reasons. I'm too young to have much direct experience with the 90s corporate networks (CompuServe, Prodigy, AOL, etc.) aside from using AOL CDs as cat toys - I'd reflect sunlight off the shiny side and let the cat chase the light spot.

        The thing is, I can't deny that corporate sites aren't entirely useless. I met my wife on a Yahoo! forum, for Hell's sake. But writing messages on a corporate-run web forum was one thing. People are pouring their entire li

        • No.

          We had that and it didn't work. Recall geocities and the other lame sites. It was a bitch piecing up all that shit just as pimping up MySpace was a pain.

          People don't want to, and don't need to DIY for social media. They don't want decentralized meeting places. It was hard to get noticed with those small apartment complex designs.

          Facebook, in order to stay profitable, is going to have to build a shadow Facebook where people can subscribe to a gated community where the membership is the customer and data i

          • They're welcome to try, but I wouldn't use it. They've fucked over their users too many times to be trustworthy. Maybe Ello should take that route, since they're now a public benefit corporation.
        • Over the years I've had four registered domains. My current one live on one of the big corporate hosters, and it runs on WordPress, which is actually quite fun to manage. I put new content about once a month, sometimes more. It really is a lot of fun and I have complete control. That is one of the things about FB that I could never accept, combined with the fact that FB is 99% fluff/krap, and, the interface is absolutely abhorrent. At least Google+ has a half decent ui.

          But yes, things like FB make i
      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        "Now the pendulum is swinging back again because the cost/value equation in favor of corporate networks makes less sense (specifically, we didn't realize the consequences of selling ourselves and our data for 'free' services until it was too late.)."
        Nope. The vast majority of people really do not care. For all the outrage over privacy you hear about in the tech press the vast majority of people just do not care.
        They do not even mind the ads.
        Why pay for a social network when facebook is free?
        Facebook is the

    • by CHK6 ( 583097 )
      It's amazing how many do not understand the fundamentals of the Internet. I found it humorous how the author tosses out "protocol" and "object" as some magical lingo in how it should work.
      • CHK6, I often suspect that those most prone to bloviating about what the Internet needs aren't programmers or technicians with a working knowledge of how the net actually works.
        • The people who know best what the fucking Internet needs are the people who don't bullshit from wold honey about any technical shit at all.

          Refrigerators are designed to meet consumer demand. Fuck the repairman.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Not a whole lot of people I knew and having your own hosting and domain costs a bit, most used third party blogs and forums anyway. And it all lacks authentication and aggregation. Sure, you could set up users and accounts and manage all that but people wouldn't bother to manage 100 separate accounts the way they have 100 friends on one Facebook login. And unless every site it set up with an RSS feed there's no easy way to aggregate lots of blogs and give you one dashboard of what your friends are doing. No

      • I know. As I said to daemonhunter, being indie is a colossal pain in the ass. Sure, we can save on hosting by using Jekyll and GitHub Pages and then add a CNAME record to point our domains properly, but that requires a DIY approach to making websites that might not appeal to most people.
    • If you ignore the ability to restrict personal data to particular people, news feed with intelligent ranking that tries to guess who your real friends are so you don't have to upset people who post a lot by defriending them, the ability to tag people in photos, the lack of any need for meaningless URLs and a seamless way of organising events ...... then sure. Facebook is just like the web.

      • If you ignore the ability to restrict personal data to particular people

        If you want to keep secrets, keep them in your head. The second you put them on a networked computer, your data is at risk.

        news feed with intelligent ranking that tries to guess who your real friends are

        No. I don't want a proprietary algorithm deciding what news is important to me. I don't listen to radio because I don't want ClearChannel deciding the soundtrack to my life, so why in Hell's name would I want Facebook deciding who my "re

    • by zmooc ( 33175 )

      Thank you sir. That's exactly what we need; we just need to take the web back using open standards.

      However, I think one or two major things are currently missing. The first is that the browser needs to be involved - in order to be able to properly authenticate on all your friends' walls/blogs/homepages, we need it to be automated: we need your browser to be able to tell any website you want it to where your online identify "lives". Furthermore, we need those online identies to be able to trust and communica

      • zmooc, you might be interested in IndieWebCamp [indiewebcamp.com]. One of their principles is that your primary domain name should be your identify on the Web. So, instead of creating handles like "Lilith's Heart-Shaped Ass" (Slashdot, but the truncated it) or "demifiend" (for GitHub), I should be able to use the matthewgraybosch.com domain to authenticate with other sites.

        Your suggestions regarding the browser make sense, but I don't have the programming chops to implement them myself, otherwise I'd do it and submit patches

    • T.H.I.S.

      (this here is superior)

  • if the EFF and the BoingBoing guys endorsed a new social networking system as the future of Internet freedom, people would join because it would seem uncool not to.

    Seriously? The EFF and BoingBoing are not the epitome of cool to 99% of the population, who probably never even heard of them.

    • Many of the 99% you mention would insist that people who use social networks at all, for any reason, are uncool. You're using a converse of the argument from popularity; the argument from unpopularity.
      • Seriously? The EFF and BoingBoing are not the epitome of cool to 99% of the population, who probably never even heard of them.

        Many of the 99% you mention would insist that people who use social networks at all, for any reason, are uncool. You're using a converse of the argument from popularity; the argument from unpopularity

        No, I'm arguing that almost nobody cares about the EFF and BoingBoing because they never even heard about them. You can't be unpopular if nobody knows you exist. Unpopularity would be a step up - "The only thing worse than bad publicity is no publicity."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Diaspora put the cart before the horse. They developed the relatively easy piece, the local application, and then apparently assumed the federated protocol would reveal itself. Thus far, they don't yet have a formal specification, it's still defined by "how the application interacts on the wire".

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday October 23, 2014 @01:40PM (#48214995) Homepage

    Diaspora failed partly because it presents itself in such a confusing way. See Join Diaspora. [joindiaspora.com]: "JoinDiaspora.com Registrations are closed But don't worry! There are lots of other pods [podupti.me] you can register at. You can also choose to set up your own pod if you'd like. There's no "Join" button, but two "Donate" buttons. Take a look at a few "pods". You can't see anything without signing up, and many sound like they're run by wierdos.

    The latter is the real problem. A system where anyone can join anonymously and can have as many identities as they want will be overrun by spammers and jerks. Facebook has some pushback in that area, which helps. Facebook also started by getting people from big-name schools, so they didn't start with a loser-heavy population.

    A social network needs some cost to creating an identity. The cost can be money, or reputation, or even a proof of work, like Bitcoin. Otherwise, the network is overrun with fake accounts. A distributed social network needs good anti-forgery mechanisms, to prevent one node from spoofing another. That's hard without central control.

  • Ladies and gentlemen, I present: https://cupcake.io/ [cupcake.io] ... an alpha implementation of a distributed social protocol called tent. You can make a free account. There is only one app right now; a Twitter clone called micro. But it works well and there's a good community.

    What is Tent and Why Does It Matter? http://housejeffries.com/artic... [housejeffries.com]

  • Instead of hosting a social network on a standard web site, it seems like to make it really distributed, it should be more similar to (but not exactly like) BitTorrent where the content originally local to the users computer/phone but mirrored to other client computers so that it is available widely without any sort of centralized control. The size of the content on a social network ends up being large but the updates are usually small. Just an idea, probably others have done it already.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 23, 2014 @01:50PM (#48215093)

    Who the fuck is he and who cares what he thinks about anything?

    I can think of only 3 reasons why his bullshit keeps making the front page:

    1) He owns Dice,
    2) He blows whoever does,
    or
    3) He's got pictures of #2 as well

  • They are a blog (your 'page' has words and pictures, time stamped, aka a BLOG).

    Connected to an email service.

    With some automated responses (like) and mass mailing features.

    Connected to some games

    All held together by exclusivity That is, they won't let you someone's blog, email them, or get emails, unless you join them.

    Well, I did leave some extra stuff out - but basically the other stuff is all the privacy killing back office things that no users wants - i.e. the ability to tag other people's photos,

  • Distributed social networks won't work.

    The problem is that if you are hosting the content on your own server, you have ultimate revisionist control of what you've said in the past, and now regret to the point that you're willing to rewrite history. In the limit, there's always the "off" switch if you want to duck out on the responsibility for what you've said.

    I'm also not sure I'd be comfortable with some types of content showing up in "my feed", particularly content that happens to be illegal in my jurisd

  • Very interesting but abandoned low level protocol for distributed social networking.

    Uses encryption and trust relationships which can be granted/withdrawn. There was a document describing it, but I cant find it on the net anymore, but the sourcecode is on github. It just needs somebody to set up an easy to access front end.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org]

  • by div_2n ( 525075 ) on Thursday October 23, 2014 @02:37PM (#48215463)

    It's still under development AFAIK and so to say that it failed seems to be the incorrect analysis as best I can tell. It's unclear if it will ever reach a state where it's ready for prime time or whatever, but I wouldn't count it out just yet.

  • Stage artists where also subjected to the rule. Hence, cEven Key [wikipedia.org] (yes, that's how it's spelt) of Skinny Puppy fame was forced to change his FB account back to his Kevin Crompton causing a very public backslash in his follower's community (incl. myself) where a good number of fans changed their FB name to cEven Key in protest and support.

    Eventually FB backtracked and he was able to resume using his stage name (which he has for 30+ years now). But others are still stuck in the bureaucracy of getting their nam

  • ...a protocol that allows users to create profiles, "status" posts, groups, events, and other familiar social networking features as "objects" that live on their own server

    I believe that mobile device computing power and storage will advance to the point that everyone will be able to carry his/her own server, removing even the need to contract with a third party for services.

    All that's necessary is the user-hardware and the FOSS protocol. No deep-pocketed sponsor necessary.

  • I had not heard of Diaspora, I am currently working on a personal project to create something to fill a similar gap in the social media framework. (Project yet to be named) My project is different, but I'm not ready to expand on it publicly.

  • where you hosted your own website and the ICQ persistent presence has a profile page and a dynamic DNS link to your personal server? That was way back when with a teeny little hack you could just link through and have your own free (as in beer) no-ad website and maintain complete control. Then at some point they changed it and the personal space went cloud-based and you lost control (and that's when I stopped using it).

  • I once started writing a distributed social network, and then life took me on a journey. (I'm still finding the time, though.)

    The reason why we don't have one yet is that writing a distributed social network is HARD. It's a much harder problem than inventing the web or email, because the security stakes are much higher. The consequences of spamming and spoofing are even worse than what we see in email; thus an author of a distributed social network needs to solve this problem early in the process.

    Anothe

  • Why does a distributed social network need servers at all? Why not just flag stuff on your PC to share? It gets copied encrypted into a bittorrent directory using a session key, and that session key is held in a wrapper than can only be unencrypted by the people/group you have 'shared' with. The bittorrent network will ensure it's available even when your computer is off. Adding nodes to boost network speed just means pointing some bittorrent client to that .torrent.

    Phillip.

  • For every website where users can upload data, it needs to be distributed.

    Slashdot, Github, Google*, all the forums, large and small, you name it.

    They're all controlled by relatively few people, and subject to censorship, hardware failure and human madness.

    Upside of the centralized system is (usually) fast speeds and comparatively easy maintenance and development.

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