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Creating a Better Facebook

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the empty-is-not-god dept.

Social Networks 295

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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Social networks (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181492)

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:Social networks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32181528)

Hey buddy, how's it feel to be back up to posting all the way up at zero again!? You don't have negative karma anymore ... but you're not quite positive yet. Keep up the "Microsoft rocks, you all suck" message and maybe you'll make it!

Re:Social networks (3, Insightful)

ThePangolino (1756190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181556)

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 (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181608)

I think you missed the point. Even if it is aGPL, how do you convince everyone, your friends, sisters, parents, relatives and so on to use it? Social network isn't good if you can't use it for, well socializing. For that you need everyone else to use it too.

Re:Social networks (5, Insightful)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182292)

The same way everyone got sucked into myspace, then facebook, then twitter, etc. If it's good people will use it and they will invite their friends.

Re:Social networks (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32182424)

Yes, but people didn't have such a place yet at the time. It will be more difficult now that Facebook is a de facto gathering place.

Re:Social networks (5, Insightful)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182052)

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:Social networks (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32182206)

Diaspora isn't scraping anything. Facebook isn't the only show in town that gets data from Flickr et al. Friendfeed and Windows Live both do it. Aggregating data from multiple web services -- including Facebook, because Facebook has user RSS feeds -- isn't hard. No reason why Diaspora or anyone else couldn't do it.

Re:Social networks (1, Interesting)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182350)

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 already been done".

I realize OneSocialWeb is alpha at this point, but installing your own XMPP server etc. is a relatively high hurdle for setting up an online community.

It has to be easy to try out joining a community AND easy to set up your own community that links into the overall social network if you want to attract even the early adopter types who will then contribute back code and features to the community. The first "open social web" project to hit that critical mass point will probably get some real traction.

Re:Social networks (5, Insightful)

epiphani (254981) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (3, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (4, Interesting)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182044)

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:Social networks (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182404)

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

My theory is that the marketing fucks show up, and as soon as that happens, the site is as good as dead.

I mean, the fricking 'Fashion Bug' store in the little strip mall in the small town I live near has 'We are on Facebook' stickers on the door now. The 'Fashion Bug' in case anybody isn't aware of it, is a clothing store that has about the same image in fashion as Radio Shack does in tech.

Facebook is over. Or, it's just the new Montgomery Wards.

Re:Social networks (1, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181698)

And once they have grown, they will use the project to make money. Not only because they'd like it, but they would need to employ 1000+ employees, pay them every month and get the money for that. Actually this is exactly the same way how Facebook started.

They will make humble promises now so that they actually have even some change in creating their social network, but once it becomes large social network it will work just the same way like every other social network out there.

Re:Social networks (3, Insightful)

Aeros (668253) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181868)

Then we will have to start up a *NEW* social networking site that promises privacy..

Re:Social networks (2, Insightful)

epiphani (254981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181908)

You obviously didn't read the article. They're trying to build a decentralized, p2p-style facebook application.

Re:Social networks (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182106)

It seems like this is a terrible idea. Decentralization is nice in theory, but it's really hard to do in practice. How do I know where my friends are on dynamic IPs? You either need trackers or some static place to host the data.

If this gains popularity, it will be amongst a few large brokers. A handful of sites will offer Diaspora accounts, and you're in largely the same boat as now except that you can jump ship if one of them becomes tyrannical. Though if you want to keep your friends who are on that server, you'll still be sending your information over. So maybe this is even worse--your information in the hands of several medium-sized companies (any of whom could share it) instead of one large company.

Most likely, though, this will be relegated to geeks and small one- or two-account servers spread out all over the place. If all of your friends are geeks, great. If not, you'll either alienate yourself or stay on with Facebook in order to keep up with them.

Re:Social networks (2, Informative)

Quantumplation (1692804) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182346)

No no, not at all. Do a bit of research on Distributed Hash Tables. They allow a vast storage and distribution of data, without the need for ANY kind of centralized server. If you know one person who's online, you connect and get integrated into the network. You can then cache large numbers (several thousands) of IP's who are online, and sort them by some sort of self published "uptime" statistic. Then, you have a very high probability of being able to connect to the network in the future.

Likewise, a single server that says "Here are a couple people online, go talk to them to connect to the network" is far better than a centralized server that says "Here's all your data, and your friends data. Oh, and I'm giving your data away in large quantities."

Re:Social networks (5, Insightful)

AnnoyaMooseCowherd (1352247) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182114)

They're trying to build a decentralized, p2p-style facebook application.

The problem with facebook is not the centralised nature of the application, but the lack of control a user has over their data and what facebook intend to do with it

In the case of a p2p, decentralised system it is surely even less clear as to where your profile data (embarrasing photos, etc) will actually be stored, who will have access to that data and how can you ensure you can delete it when you want to.

Re:Social networks (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32182308)

Exactly. The entire perceived 'problem' with Facebook is that they are decentralizing your data to third party sites rather than keeping it locked up on your profile page. So the solution is to further decentralize?

People who can't manage their facebook privacy settings are certainly not going to be able to manage profile replication and multiple privacy policies. Oh, but they can audit the source code :rolleyes:.

Re:Social networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32181598)

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

I disagree. It might be enough to convince a few universities or a small area to switch. From there it will spread.
Craigslist & a lot of sites started off in a small area then spread quickly.

Re:Social networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32181692)

I could certainly see a market for something like the old facebook. University students only. No moms, no thirteen-year-olds, no third cousins and grade school 'friends', and no future bosses to see your boobie blouse beer bong pictures and interpersonal drama.

However that has zilch to do with "distributed" and "open source"

Re:Social networks (1)

Rallias Ubernerd (1760460) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181636)

They hit slashdot. They will become major in a few days. Don't worry. This one will actually succede!

Right (4, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181950)

They hit slashdot. They will become major in a few days. Don't worry. This one will actually succede!

Right, because everyone knows that Slashdot posters are social dynamos, followed by hundreds of fans who will willingly follow them onto the new network.

Re:Right (0)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182018)

John Carmack posts here. I think he might actually get a lot of slashdotters and other people to follow him, even if he only created a social network for developers or gamers.

Re:Social networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32182120)

lol. This story has been bouncing around the tubes for a week and despite all the 'open source' hype involved, slashdot doesn't hear about until after it appears in the NY Times.

Just last week, slashdot was seriously arguing over whether Usenet was dying out -- this is a site where people jerk off to ancient unix crap and ron paul, not where anyone knows or cares about anything new happening on the internet.

Re:Social networks (5, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (3, Interesting)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182028)

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.

Re:Social networks (1)

thepike (1781582) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182098)

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 like facebook has, at least in theory. Because all the information isn't being hosted on central servers, the main company should have a much more difficult time storing it all forever and saying it isn't yours, which is the main problem with facebook these days.

There is also the potential that if people start leaving for services like this, facebook might shape up a bit. Probably not, but it could happen.

Re:Social networks (4, Insightful)

Jarik_Tentsu (1065748) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32182444)

In response to "don't overestimate the strength of Facebook's network effect":

http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics

That is all.

Re:Social networks (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182466)

"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.

Re:Social networks (1)

gox (1595435) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181854)

Well, if it's distributed, and open-source, and popular enough, at some point they should lose all /direct/ control over it. If this is not likely from the beginning, there's no point in using it, though I suspect the goal is just that.

If it works, we nerds would start using it out of curiosity. If it proves helpful, it could grow.

Re:Social networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32181934)

You're completely missing the point. It's distributed network and even you could host a node.
You would own your own data.

Re:Social networks (0)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182162)

You're completely missing the point. It's distributed network and even you could host a node.
You would own your own data.

So basically like WWW? Then it has even more problems. Normal people don't keep their computers on all the time, and if its distributed via other computers they have access to the private data or its slow like Freenet. A good goal, but people will not put up with it, or otherwise Slashdot would be hosted on freenet too.

Re:Social networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32182296)

Yes, because every Jabber user is forced to run their own XMPP server.

Re:Social networks (1)

Hylandr (813770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182040)

Dunno, facebook did a pretty good number on myspace.

Then again, myspace kind of did that to itself with the barrage of ads apparently geared to the nickelodeon crowd...

- Dan.

Re:Social networks (1)

Cruise_WD (410599) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182072)

[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 their own API.

The only reason I use facebook is because my friends use facebook. If I could keep the access without ever actually having to use fb itself, I'd be there like a shot.

Re:Social networks (1)

longhunt (1641141) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182208)

This is going back a ways... but it reminds me of the '80s when people were using big dial-up services like Genie and Compuserve... Then hobbyists started writing software to set up a dial-up BBS on a PC. I used to have like 40 people who would regularly call my bbs to read the forums and play games.

The thing was, we could hack and customize our own BBSs to make the way cooler and more individualized than the big services. Potentially, this could be the new Web 2.0 version of that... Then again, maybe its all vaporware.

Re:Social networks (1)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182262)

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?

Re:Social networks (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182392)

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

While I admire their goals... (2, Insightful)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181600)

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

Re:While I admire their goals... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32181656)

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:While I admire their goals... (2, Interesting)

beef3k (551086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181862)

RTFA - this is decentralized, there is no centralized hub which registers/keeps track of millions of users, hence no siren call to heed

Re:While I admire their goals... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32181928)

True, but if their software is released under the GPL, then they'll potentially have to compete with their own users should they do anything that upsets their userbase.

Once they start accepting code from the other developers and incorporate it in their system, THEY will be locked into GPL-compliance with those contributors, similar to the whole Nexuiz licensing scandal from a while back. If they accept any help from other contributors, they can't just take the code and run if they decide that their ideals are no longer worth focusing on.

You know all the groups on Facebook that form to "protest" a change in the Terms of Use? Imagine how much more effective they would be on a site where the source code is available for anyone else to use.

Re:While I admire their goals... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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...

Interoperable (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182004)

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 copy of every other social networking site.

Fundraise call is fundraise call (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Fundraise call is fundraise call (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182234)

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

Re:Fundraise call is fundraise call (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32182302)

I totally agree. They seem to focus on the code where it's really not the important stuff here.
How this things will work ?

Still, I really wish this project to succeed.

You Underestimate Your Mom (-1, Offtopic)

organgtool (966989) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181612)

but I imagine it will be harder to convince your mom to log in.

You'd be surprised at how easy it is for your mom to "log in".

Re:You Underestimate Your Mom (-1, Offtopic)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181676)

You'd be surprised at how easy it is for your mom to "log in".

I don't know about that...your mom expressed difficulty in getting my log in.

"I hope it doesn't load too fast!"
"Don't worry, baby."

Re:You Underestimate Your Mom (0, Offtopic)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181986)

You'd be surprised at how easy it is for your mom to "log in".

I don't know about that...your mom expressed difficulty in getting my log in.

"I hope it doesn't load too fast!" "Don't worry, baby."

Don't worry, I've given her a magnifying glass. She should have better luck next time.

Re:You Underestimate Your Mom (0, Offtopic)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182182)

pfft. She would need a portable electron microscope. lol, you thought a magnifying glass would be eno-

Oh wait. You were talking about me.

Could happen (4, Funny)

ZekoMal (1404259) | more than 4 years ago | (#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!

Re:Could happen (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181684)

[...] 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.

I'm more for the idea of decoupling data on these kindof site and make them transferable, sortof like RFC-protocol which sites can implement to talk to eachother. The "brand"-dependency would dissapear, and users will be able to use services based on relevance and enjoyment without needing to be "tied in".

Re:Could happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32181752)

Their solution, called Diaspora, will be decentralized. You launch your own node. There will be no brand dependency.

Re:Could happen (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181898)

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.

Re:Could happen (1)

ZekoMal (1404259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182246)

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.

The vast majority (5, Insightful)

Adustust (1650351) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:The vast majority (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181726)

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 want someone online to know something about you, just don't type it."

Re:The vast majority (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182082)

Your dad is Eric Schmidt?!? You lucky bastard!

I've seen something like that recently... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181708)

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 related to a large degree)

All appear roughly usable; I have to check them one time...if some buddies of mine will be willing to play at the same time. Oh, we get to the most important point - are the above actually in much use? Have you even heard about them? Yeah, exactly...

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

Re:I've seen something like that recently... (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182104)

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 pretty much the same thing (or even less) with higher quality & security.
  (2) A new social network has to identify and grow from within the user group. Facebook and StudiVZ for example were built from students by students. A project can't come from outside, otherwise it will not target the right user minority (the early adopters).
      - A majority of users will join because they know someone in the network (someone socially important to them).
      - A small minority will join independently because they think the network is good.
  (3) After users are registered in both the old and the new network, the new network has to be consistently better in usability and quality. Bad press about security leaks and privacy (StudiVZ) hurts. This will make users switch completely to the new network (by using it predominantly) and ultimately remove the old networks account.

Just some ideas...

Re:I've seen something like that recently... (3, Interesting)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182368)

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.

Re:I've seen something like that recently... (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182164)

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 me out.

I used to be worried about Google, but at this point, Facebook is far scarier.

You give them POWER! (0)

UncHellMatt (790153) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181710)

Well I mean first of all, having a link at the bottom of a /. article allowing users to post to their FB and Twitter accounts (emphasis on "twit" deliberate...) is certainly not going to assist the 600lb gorilla in losing market share, even if that gorilla is serving up all your personal information and pictures and all personal information and pictures of all your friends. At this point, you could have that gorilla holding up a neon sign saying "I SERVE UP YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION" acompanied by a mariachi band singing "We Expose Your Private Information CHA CHA CHA!" and still most lusers would gleefully keep using the site.

If, and I do mean if Facebook were to lose market share, it would take a stroke of pure luck. Good luck OR bad luck, as they are deeply entrenched.

IF they get big, FB will NOMNOM them (1)

Mekkah (1651935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181766)

IF they get reasonably big, FB will just NOMNOM them.

Re:IF they get big, FB will NOMNOM them (1)

juanjux (125739) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181872)

Read a little about the project. It's a network of distributed servers, much like email is. If everything works as designed and Facebook NOMNOM them, there will be 0 consequences for the network.

Re:IF they get big, FB will NOMNOM them (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181896)

Good point. If we donate our 10 or 30 or 50 grand, what's to stop facebook from coming in and saying "here's 10 million for your site".

Re:IF they get big, FB will NOMNOM them (1)

Mekkah (1651935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182128)

hahah... wouldn't even have to pay them. Those kids would shit their pants for jobs at FB.

Diaspora *? (-1, Redundant)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181786)

Diaspora Star, is that like Facebook for Jews? Weird name, but kind of fitting considering the authors family names.

Long names - bad marketing... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182284)

Cause, who wouldn't want to join a "A Road Rapists" [wordsmith.org] social network, right?

It's mostly the over 35 crowd... (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181790)

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.

Re:It's mostly the over 35 crowd... (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181852)

Just curious - are you staying with Facebook for business reasons (some use it for advertising, a LinkedIN type of thing) or do you have friends scattered all over the place? Obviously something is keeping you from closing out your account.

hold on a second (1)

mininab (1544283) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181796)

So the Salz-guy's plan is sweeter then the Zucker-guy's one. Am I the only one fearing a bad german joke ?

A better Facebook is already here: isolatr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32181822)

A better Facebook has already been around for years: isolatr (beta) [isolatr.com] . You don't even have to create an account.

Looks familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32181836)

These four nerds actually strangely resemblance to the cast of the Big Bang theory.

Not Another Fucking Geek Project Name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32181858)

diaspora /d-as-p(-)r, d-/
origin: Greek

Cool name with potential to attract people: FAIL

Dirty Unix Joke (4, Funny)

Kozz (7764) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181870)

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

Re:Dirty Unix Joke (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182130)

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:Dirty Unix Joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32182254)

way cool

Re:Dirty Unix Joke (2, Funny)

MathiasRav (1210872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182158)

But... you can't fsck when the drive is mounted! That's all wrong!

X has been doing it for years! (3, Insightful)

DeanLearner (1639959) | more than 4 years ago | (#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

Cows (1)

defore (691193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32181958)

If everyone leaves Facebook, who will feed my cows?

Beaten to the punch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32181978)

Darn, been involved in an currently-internal commercially ran project with very similar goals (to be open sourced if it's ever finished) for the last year but constant schedule slip ups keep dragging it out further and further . I knew that someone would eventually start trying to do the same thing proactively by the time we hit our stride in Implementation.

Anonymous and vague due to standard employment NDA but we have a staff of ~30 if that gives it any context.

What about quality ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32181988)

While I'm totally for a decentralized social network, I would not give them my money until we can have more concrete information about the quality of their work.

I'm not sure that the code here is the most important. The protocol is more important.At least, it must have a simple core system and be easily expandable.
And certainly other proprieties..

Original idea! No, wait... (-1, Offtopic)

Bazman (4849) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182050)

Umm, Google Open Social?

http://code.google.com/apis/opensocial/ [google.com]

"OpenSocial defines a common API for social applications across multiple websites. With standard JavaScript and HTML, developers can create apps that access a social network's friends and update feeds. "

Here's a tip.. don't make it creepy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32182086)

I don't have an fb account. A couple of friends have invited me.. whatever.

Then this morning I get another invite, from someone I don't know. But at the bottom of the email it lists "people you may know on facebook".. and I did know all of them.

But how did it know that? The people that I knew were from different areas of my life, from different parts of the country, some I grew up with, some not.. and one person I know only from the internet. What data source is it looking at to know that I know these people? Fucking creepy!

Rebuttal of the "RFTA, it's distributed" responses (5, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182166)

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.

Re:Rebuttal of the "RFTA, it's distributed" respon (1)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182438)

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.

Since Facebook gives all the info out ... (1)

mordred99 (895063) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182180)

All they have to do is obtain the info from facebook and then people can manage their settings on this new site, and it is done .. :)

People should be more afraid (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182190)

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 key is in the protocol. (1)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182202)

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 sites where each site may have its own purpose and functionnalities, that allowed communication between sites without requiring an user to have an account with more than one of those sites.

let's say my primary interest is music. I can join a social neworking site caller musicnetworking.com, where I can upload some music I made, share playlists, or whatever one could do on a music social nework site. Let's say my friend is a world of warcraft addict, I can do a cross-site friend request using his identifier ("johnthenightelf@wowsocialneworkingsite.net"), and see on the homepage of my music site what he shares on his wow site.

If each node of this network can have its own purpose, and appeal to a specific subset of social network users without cutting them from their friends whose interests may not be exactly the same, the network can globally be appealing for a very large population, and then it may become a major player.

But this will need a very well thought protocol, because communication between the nodes is all this concept is about.

Re:The key is in the protocol. (1)

Mrdzone (562353) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182334)

Like Reddit?

Re:The key is in the protocol. (2, Insightful)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182378)

Almost, except for the the fact that not at all.

Re:The key is in the protocol. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32182376)

The internet

The Oatmeal says (1)

Lordrashmi (167121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182238)

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/websites_stop

Pretty much covers it.

P2P Social? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32182310)

So, essentially Freenet without all the dodgy shit?

If they can secure it and optimize bandwidth better than that and others like Opera Unite, then they deserve good things.
But so far, Opera Unite is slow and Freenet is slow on most pages simply due to most connections having awful upstream.

And they will have to have some sort of system to prevent abuse.
Maybe even have default whitelisted pages, such as profile information, pictures, the usual stuff.
But then we will have the defaulted blacklist pages, user created pages and such.
You could warn the user that they are browsing pages that could be unsafe, maybe even have a breakdown of some of the things the page can do to the "browser". (popups, generate HTML, evaluate dynamic content, etc)

It is a nice idea and i would love to see it work.
It was a similar idea i suggested to Opera to improve on Unite.
Opera Unite + P2P distribution would allow for near always up time for some sections of the profiles.
Media being hosted in the clouds would be entirely up to them. But considering how it usually kills services like this in terms of bandwidth, best not.
Plus, copyrighted stuff would end up getting 3rd parties screwed over for "distribution".

How to log in (1)

Bifurcati (699683) | more than 4 years ago | (#32182324)

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...

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