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Could Open Source Render Facebook the Next AOL?

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the can't-happen-fast-enough dept.

Social Networks 293

joabj writes "Now that Facebook has amassed more than 500 million users, a growing number of open source social networking developers are wondering if Facebook's photo sharing, status updates and other features wouldn't work better as Internet-wide standardized services. At the OSCON conference last week, the head of Identi.ca, an open source Twitter-like microblogging service, likened today's social networking services to the enormously proprietary online services of the early 1990s, like AOL or Prodigy. He suggested that just like SMTP and Sendmail standardized what were previously propriety e-mail services, so too could open source social networking stacks, like OStatus, render walled garden services like Facebook obsolete."

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Too late (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#33067894)

They're too late to join the game. The problem is that Facebook already has everyone you know, so everyone joins it because everyone else already is there. Some random mumblings about walled gardens and open source won't make normal people switch over.

Difference with AOL (never even heard about Prodigy) versus email is that a lot of people used the standard email. I think AOL was mostly just US-centric too, I don't know anyone who would had actually used it. This was also time when internet was mostly used by geeks who understood it and valued open standards.

Someone in these kind of stories always suggests that you set up your own Facebook-like service or just a website. That's just thinking too much of yourself - why would people visit your site just to see your stuff? Facebook is great because it lets me easily see them from all the people, even if I don't keep in touch with them so much.

Also, how do you handle things like Facebook games and cooperation with people in them? Oh, you say Facebook games are stupid and people shouldn't play them. Arrogant attitudes like that don't really help either, because people obviously like the games. We aren't the ones to tell other people what they should or shouldn't like.

In Facebook's case one big service works a lot better than thousand small ones. How would you even search for people, places, events and so on with them? It would go back to the @something.com convention which defeats the whole purpose.

When I was recently visiting a different country I could easily search for the one guy I knew. From his connections I found everyone else I had met and also saw a lot of interesting events and businesses I wouldn't had otherwise known about. You can't really use a search engine for something you don't know about. This was the first time I actually understood how great service Facebook is - you just have to use it correctly.

Re:Too late (5, Interesting)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#33067962)

I will not sign up for a Facebook account unless something serious changes with regards to privacy and security. However, I *would* sign up for a service that allowed communication with Facebook users, so that I can more easily keep in touch with people, without exposing myself to all the Facebook crap that I want to avoid.

Such a service would provide a gateway through which people could move away from Facebook if they don't like it without having to deal with the problem of losing access to all their friends and profiles.

Re:Too late (3, Insightful)

DarkSarin (651985) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068068)

Problem is that most services (currently) that can communicate with FB users requires that you have a FB account--so that it knows WHICH FB users to communicate with.

Re:Too late (1)

Hylandr (813770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068318)

The frightening thing is there appears to be the concept that a website is any way comparable to the multi-user *dialup* system that AOL originated as. AOL had been compared to the bus load of Ebola victims tossing rotten cabbage a the other passers by on the information super highway. Facebook in no way compares to this.

There were games available on AOL too. But these games were things like Air Warrior. ( MMOG Air Combat of Kesmai fame )

In every except the gaming facebook is superiour to AOL. facebook games, to me are insulting compared to what I have done in the past "online". AOL was international, as was prodigy, compuserve etc. Remember, this was done over phone lines, no internet access. There was a network of forums called FIDO and a few others. the Internet existed well before the world wide web and to the best of my knowledge, was never utilized by AOL, Prodigy or Compuserve.

So, lets just drop the comparison now ok?

- Dan.

Re:Too late (1)

Hylandr (813770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068336)

Corrections. Was never utilized before 1997*

Re:Too late (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068582)

Sigh, AOL if it existed now would be superior to AOL back then as well. It's a fair comparison, it's a walled garden with a huge share of the market. Back when AOL was huge, there wasn't much internet to speak of, and due to it's huge slice of the market it was tough to compete with since few people really knew how to use the internet.

Re:Too late (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068824)

You seem to have a lot of hatred for AOL, but I remember when it was called Quantum Link (see link) and offered in the mid-80s a web type interface before the web existed. It also provided the earliest Online Sims games (called Club Caribe). And although I preferred to use FIDOnet and Usenet, AOL did have decent forums for asking questions. Those posts were answered by a national audience, which was a huge step-up from the local BBSes.

My memories of AOL are generally positive, and I still use them today. $7/month is a hard-to-beat deal for net access.

http://www.qlinklives.org/ [qlinklives.org]

Re:Too late (4, Informative)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068202)

Try trillian. They have a facebook plugin.

Re:Too late (3, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068364)

As does pidgin - because Facebook now supports open standards:

http://www.facebook.com/sitetour/chat.php [facebook.com]

Re:Too late (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068678)

Neither Trillian nor Pidgin allow one to communicate with Facebook users without becoming a Facebook user oneself.

Re:Too late (4, Interesting)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068676)

I assume you're talking about Facebook instant messaging. Facebook have since changed their chat to use XMPP which means that most multi-protocol messengers can use Facebook chat. You still need to have a facebook account to use it though, so it doesn't really help Spad. I guess you could register an account and not enter any details...

Re:Too late (4, Interesting)

zr-rifle (677585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068446)

You can communicate with your friends without exposing your personal information to Facebook:
  1. Register an account with a false name and leave it devoid of any personal content.
  2. Add your friends telling them it's you, without revealing your complete name
  3. Download the Pidgin IM (gratis & libre) client and use it to message your friends
  4. Delete all your browser cookies relative to Facebook
  5. ???
  6. PROFIT!!!

Just don't be too revealing about yourself in your instant messages :)

Re:Too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068638)

It's not that hard to do. All they need is your name, falsify other information if you want. Privacy concerns are a non-issue if there isn't any private information about you to share.

Re:Too late (0, Troll)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068694)

You DID sign up for Facebook when you signed up for /.

Re:Too late (2)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068846)

The problem with Facebook, is the very thing that makes it work. People like you want walled garden for your life, when in reality, there is no such thing.

You want privacy, but on the other hand, you want people to know how to find you, which means breaching privacy.

I haven't gained any friends since joining FB, and I'm not losing any friends if I leave FB. I don't count new people "friends" and online people are not friends until we've become involved IRL.

Lastly, I don't put anything on FB that I don't want the whole world knowing. Most of the "Privacy" crap people complain about is laziness and stupidity. Most of the information on FB about me can be found elsewhere by Googling me. And it isn't that much.

Re:Too late (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#33067966)

They're too late to join the game. The problem is that Facebook already has everyone you know, so everyone joins it because everyone else already is there. Some random mumblings about walled gardens and open source won't make normal people switch over.

Well let's travel backward in time to when Facebook was starting. Now let's rephrase your statement:

They're too late to join the game. The problem is that MySpace already has everyone you know, so everyone joins it because everyone else already is there. Some random mumblings about really bad user design and spam won't make normal people switch over and all the bands will stay on MySpace since Facebook doesn't host music.

Now if we go a little further back to when MySpace was starting:

They're too late to join the game. The problem is that Friendster already has everyone you know, so everyone joins it because everyone else already is there. Some random mumblings about ... about ... what was wrong with Friendster again?

Obviously the barrier you speak of has been broken down and it can be broken down again. You just have to understand your users better than Facebook does. And given the user feedback [slashdot.org] wouldn't you say that's possible to do?

I would counter that the real big dealbreaker would be ability to import all pictures and posts from Facebook into the new system. So you would have the user run an app from their local machine that needs their username and password and then scrapes everything off of Facebook while a loading bar processes it and then loads it into the new system. Option at the end to delete the Facebook account and maybe send an e-mail to Facebook telling them that if they don't permanently remove your user data from all their servers, you will get litigious. Of course, that's just a fantasy of mine ...

Re:Too late (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068208)

I like that fantasy, tell me more about it! lol

Re:Too late (4, Informative)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068236)

Unfortunately part of the Terms of Service of the Facebook API prevents storage of data received through the API on a remote source.

You're Thinking About It Wrong (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068368)

Unfortunately part of the Terms of Service of the Facebook API prevents storage of data received through the API on a remote source.

I never said to use the Facebook API.

For a mental exercise let's imagine (and really maybe Perl is the better choice here) that I made a Ruby gem called SocialWalker or something of the sort and basically I used mechanize [rubyforge.org] to log into Facebook after getting the user's credentials. Then the application connects to my webservice that sends the latest selector strings (harvested from the latest Facebook interface by hand with SelectorGadget [selectorgadget.com] ) and also Nokogiri [nokogiri.org] to quickly scrape off all the information and date/time stamps [railscasts.com] . I think the pictures would be a different kind of effort but completely feasible.

At that point, the user could save it in some documented open social file format that any application can read ... it would probably be a tree directory with a bunch of XML files and images. Maybe they want to put that into Diaspora and I would have a way that the system would autopopulate their diaspora with this archived data? Maybe they want to do their own thing with it? Maybe I could spend time doing this for Facebook and MySpace and Friendster and whatever you send me a link to?

Yeah, I might not be able to spider your posts on your friends walls and maybe I won't be able to get some information and maybe the new system won't let you back timestamp things so that data has to be put in the comments on your new photo albums.

Maybe Google could be petitioned to create this system instead of some developer who prefers to get drunk on the weekends instead of liberating social network users? Google is the god of scraping and caching after all.

But it would look like nothing more than one user looking at all their history one last time ;) No API ToS violations needed.

Re:Too late (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068412)

Which, of course, is why you'd want to use a screenscraper and not use the API.

The site design changes frequently, however, probably to prevent just such screenscraping. So it wouldn't be easy.

Re:Too late (2, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068326)

I also had to laugh a few of the choice comments in there.

(never even heard about Prodigy)

Someone in these kind of stories always suggests that you set up your own Facebook-like service or just a website. That's just thinking too much of yourself - why would people visit your site just to see your stuff?

You'd be surprised at how many people just surfed to find other people's 'home pages' on the net. I remember when I downloaded my first browser, I sat there for hours just trying random URL's to see what was out there, and trolling user home directories for HTML, Pics, etc. People have an unending curiosity about other people. Social sites like Facebook are the ultimate peeping tom sites. You get to peek into random people's lives and that seems to satisfy some weird internal need that humans have. Waaay back in the day, personal web sites were the epitome of lame, with pictures of their cats, dogs, houses, and then it just went down from there, but it let people put there stamp on a new electronic frontier of sorts. It didn't do much except to say "here I am", and it was enough.

The draw of these sites is undeniable. If they should standardize on the protocols, the existing sites would adapt, and possibly new sites would pop up. As with all things social, fads come and go, people will move from site to site, and life goes on. Even Facebook will eventually become the next AOL, even if these standards never materialize. There will always be a new site to replace it that's shiny in some weird way.

Re:Too late (3, Interesting)

jridley (9305) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068406)

Totally doesn't hold up. Back when MySpace was big, I don't think I knew more than 2 or 3 people with MySpace pages. It was pretty much exclusively a teen/college hangout.

These days the only people that I know who do NOT have Facebook pages are people without internet connections at all (lots of my family) and people who are security curmudgeons (like me). Even people who barely get on the internet use Facebook. Lots of people only even have an internet connection so that they CAN use Facebook.

Re:Too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068738)

Your post isn't even self-consistent - you start off by saying facebook is no harder to supplant than myspace, and then end with all these difficult things that would need to be done to supplant it. Friendster and MySpace had a good share of the social networking pie at the time, but Facebook has a good share of the pie. 500 million users, and no reason to want to let 3rd party apps in. Facebook might eventually go put of fashion, and some of what you propose is likely necessary to facilitate that transition - but don't fool yourself into thinking this is just MySpace or Friendster again. It ain't.

Re:Too late (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068778)

Obviously, your comparing apples and oranges. 500 million plus is a strong barrier. Google could have owned this and maybe still can.

Re:Too late (5, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068060)

In Facebook's case one big service works a lot better than thousand small ones. How would you even search for people, places, events and so on with them? It would go back to the @something.com convention which defeats the whole purpose.

I'm not sure what the problem with that is. I much prefer the current situation with email, where we have thousands of email services (they don't have to be "small", btw - e..g, GMail), but I can email someone on another service.

Compare with Facebook, where you can only message or read someone's status etc, if you join. And if they're on some other blog/networking site, you can't easily communicate.

As for searching, well, I think we've managed to do reasonably well at being able to search information on the Internet on multiple sites...

A similar issue applies to instant messaging - there is Jabber at least.

There have been some attempts to interoperate and promote open common standards - things like OpenID, RSS, FOAF. Unfortunately part of the problem is that it's a much harder problem to crack (e.g., how do you deal with things like privacy settings, so that a status/blog entry is only visible to certain people?)

Facebook is great because it lets me easily see them from all the people, even if I don't keep in touch with them so much.

Yes indeed - but how well does it work when you're updating on Facebook, someone else is on Twitter, and another person is on LiveJournal? RSS helps in this regard.

Re:Too late (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068784)

(e.g., how do you deal with things like privacy settings, so that a status/blog entry is only visible to certain people?)

Require whatever microblogging software you're using to use public/private key authentication. To add someone as a friend, you add their public key which they have provided. To read a status update, you provide your private key. If it doesn't match one of the public keys in the authorized keys file, you don't get access. All of this could be handled behind the scenes and be invisible to users.

Re:Too late (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068842)

I think what is really making FB work is it's marketing potential. You can advertise there and get a lot of bang for your buck. They are going to make money doing that for sure. We are in a cycle now where people want closed systems. This will change of course when everyone has that but it goes in cycles. FB has 5 more years.

Re:Too late (-1, Redundant)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068066)

"They're too late to join the game. The problem is that Facebook already has everyone you know, so everyone joins it because everyone else already is there. Some random mumblings about walled gardens and open source won't make normal people switch over."

This.

Remember the hordes of people who switched away from the walled gardens of AIM and MSN messenger to open-source federated Jabber networks? Yeah, me neither. Even the open source geeks kept an account on the proprietary networks because the value of a messaging network (like a social networking site) is in how many people that you want to talk to are connected.

Re:Too late (2, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068238)

uh, facebook had intertia. note the word. should a new site start grabbing people's interest and show that they aren't abusive of people's rights like facebook, facebook will be dropped as quickly as myspace was/is.

Re:Too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068278)

(never even heard about Prodigy)

yep ... stopped reading right about there

my lawn

get off it

Re:Too late (3, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068352)

Wo says they'd have to visit your site? All your site has to do is serve out the data to any app or plugin that they want to run. You're thinking too 1990 here.

And btw, open source won't turn facebook into another aol - facebook is doing that all by itself.

Re:Too late (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068458)

facebook is already pissing off the more techie users. I want RSS feeds that I can filter. Facebook wont give me that. I found my OWN rss feed that I have to pull down with my own server and parse like a madman, but I cant get all the data streams I want.

I want to do my own data mining to aggregate the ton of crud that facebook has in it. I also want to have friend tiers.. Friend tier 1, 2,3,4 and 5... Make each post have the ability to apply a tier X and above can see this.

same for privacy info...

Re:Too late (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068424)

AOl and Prodigy are the mee-too latecomers to the party as well. Compuserve was the king of them all and could not be de-throned...

Until Prodigy came along with their clever GUI and lower rates...

Then AOL ate prodigy's lunch with an even better dumbed down GUI and clicky interface as well as even lower rates..

Then the internet happened, delivering more content. People could get even lower rates and avoid the busy phone line..

Then broadband happened, this event ate AOL's lunch hard.

Then friendster, Myspace, Facebook, etc.... If you offer something better that people like they will leave. Facebook is a tower of cards waiting to topple just like all the rest of them were.

Great, open source (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#33067898)

An OSS Facebook will have hundreds of competing distros, several dozen kernel forks, Countless different versions of the standards that developers will argue over for years, horrid UI's, and no documentation. New users wishing to convert over from commercial Facebook will be told "Well, first you have to decide if you want to go with a RTH, KJG, RTY, or TTTY desktop interface; then you need to pick a client from this list which you can download from this obscure irc channel; then you need to config it to your router and find the drivers for your system; and you might also need to download and install Java, Greasemonkey, and a compiler to create binaries for your particular OS" and presented with a long list of bug fixes in lieu of a user manual.

And before you mod me troll, know that this is exactly what Linux (and plenty of other OSS) looks like to a non-geek user.

Re:Great, open source (5, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#33067932)

Except that all that will need to be done by the people hosting the services, not the users using them.

Re:Great, open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068042)

Except that all that will need to be done by the people hosting the services, not the users using them.

But to a lot of "open sourcers" a user is just someone who won't RTFM (or worse, RTFCode). Few open source projects are sufficiently designed, documented, and supported for non-techies.

Re:Great, open source (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068254)

Except for the ones that are. Firefox is the best example of this but there are many more like Pidgin and VLC. But this isn't about open source its about open standards. No one is saying that the future of social networking should be open source, just that it should be open standard. How many of these "non-techies" have a problem using HTTP? PNG? They don't because they don't have to interact with them directly, they are just standards.

Re:Great, open source (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068284)

One advantage of Facebook is that it's a central resource where (almost) everybody hangs out. Like Usenet used to be.

If everybody starts putting-up their own OSS variants of Facebook, then the community will fragment - just like what happened to Newsgroups. I used to be able to log in one spot and be done. Now I have to log in 20 different web boards to catch up with the latest news/gossip
.

Re:Great, open source (2, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068494)

Did that save Usenet from being marginalized by proprietary web boards? Look at the iPhone, with a centralized "app store" and a separate app for everything, displacing the idea of interoperable web services accessible from any Internet device. Do we see a network of bazaars where we can put items for sale on web pages using a markup so they are searchable, or one big monolithinc website, ebay? Even email is being marginalized by texting and twitter (which are essentially services, not standards) and gmail (which is still email but centralized on a massive scale and with no need for pop and smtp in many cases, when two users on the same webservice email each other). The vast majority of IP addresses aren't even permitted to originate email any more, being in black holes and/or blocked by the ISP.

Sadly, ALL the momentum is AWAY from shared protocols and interoperation, and towards centralized, smoothly integrated services.

Re:Great, open source (3, Insightful)

RabbitWho (1805112) | more than 4 years ago | (#33067996)

I think you're confusing OS - Operating system with OS - open source. They won't be making an operating system, they'll be making a website.
To front-end users it doesn't have to be any more complicated than facebook or bebo or orkut, the same types of processes will go into making it but the processes will not be secret. That's what open source means.

Re:Great, open source (5, Funny)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068004)

Huh. Are you on some irc channel of basement dwellers that got caught in a net-split back in the 90's and got stuck in that time period?

You'd make a great find for some anthropologists.

Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068014)

Facebook is one of the shittiest websites on the net in terms of reliability and getting really fucking simple things (ie uploading multiple images...thats like web design 101 for fucks sake and even though they change it every week it *still* doesn't work) working, I dread to think how bad it would be if it was open source as well.

Re:Exactly (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068256)

You admit that the closed source Facebook is awful, and then conclude that's an argument against Open Source? Let me know how it compares to open source sites like Livejournal...

(Apologies if this was your point and you were being sarcastic...)

Re:Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068426)

I wasn't being sarcastic; the back end of Facebook is probably reasonably clever and handles Facebook's load quite well, but the HTML/Ajax/Javascript portions of the site are a fucking abominiation, both in terms of how stuff appears to users, how reliable it is, and the how they 'do' it. They can't even get simple web design 101 shit working. It's embarassing, but it has nothing to do with it being closed source, just bad devs, and seeing as 'back-end-good, front-end-bad' is the most consistent failure I see in OSS, I think making it OSS would make the situation even worse.

Re:Great, open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068070)

An OSS Facebook will have...horrid UI's, and no documentation.

I can scarcely imagine it.

Great, open standards (4, Informative)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068180)

Throwing insults at open source gets you +5 on Slashdot - I'd never thought I'd see the day.

If you want an example of an open source social networking site, take a look at Livejournal [livejournal.com] . Are you seriously telling me that the closed source Facebook is a better website than Livejournal? The UI is far better than Facebook, it's easy to use and doesn't have bugs, plenty of documentation, and was doing all this long before Facebook.

Aside from your comments being false (I use Windows personally, but I tried Ubuntu recently and found it worked and looked just fine; I didn't even need documenation), you're missing the point. This is more about open standards than open source as such. If you bother to RTFA:

Just like open standards for e-mail and the Web broke users free from proprietary closed networks of the early 1990s, so too could a new set of standards allow people to share their thoughts, photos and comments across the Internet, regardless of what social networking services they use

It's clear that it's more about open standards, than necessarily open source alternatives. If there were open standards, yes there'd be a load more "Facebooks", but closed source sites would still be free to make use of them - just as we have closed source email clients. So even if you believed that giving away source somehow made an application terrible, you'd still be okay.

I take it you must absolutely hate email then, because that's based on open standards like SMTP? Obviously all email clients must have terrible UIs, no documentation, and be a pain to install, by your logic...

Comparisons aside... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068416)

Are you seriously telling me that the closed source Facebook is a better website than Livejournal?

Comparisons aside...

I thought I read not too long ago that Facebook is, in fact, built on open source (LAMP, among other things).

True, all the stupid games are Flash-based, but that's not really Facebook.

What is closed source at Facebook? I'm honestly interested.

Re:Comparisons aside... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068470)

That is an interesting point, for the OP moaning about how terrible open source software is :)

What is closed source at Facebook?

But do you mean it's built using open source tools, or can I actually download the Facebook server code, and then set up a separate website that works just like Facebook? (The latter is what can be done with Livejournal, and indeed there are several alternative sites using the code.)

Re:Great, open standards (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068588)

LiveJournal is going downhill fast (annoying popup ads for example), and most of my friends have stopped posting there since moving to facebook.

As for the guy's other comments I agree that Linux is a confusing mish-mash:
- Should I use GNU, Ubuntu, Puppy, or some other variant?
I picked Ubuntu:
- Now do I use Gubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, or some other confusing mishmash of first letters?
- And what is this Lucid Lynx and Intrepid Ibex and other weird names everyone keeps talking about?

Since I'm a geek I plowed through this nonsense and found the answers. But your average person would just roll his/her eyes, say "Forget it", and go buy a $2000 Windows laptop at Best Buy because it's easier and doesn't require thinking or learning nerd-speak. People like my brother who would rather spend $70/month to have a Comcast technician install his television, rather than do the setup himself and get TV for free (via antenna). He's the type to walk in a store and just buy the first Windows machine he see, rather than mess with learning Linux.

Re:Great, open source (1)

Magorak (85788) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068214)

I agree with you completely.

There's a misconception amongst hardcore OSS folks that everyone in the world likes to "tinker". No, they don't. No they want things to just WORK and when it doesn't, to be able to get answers easily without being chastised and made fun of because of their "inferior" knowledge.

I consider myself a full on geek as I have been surrounded by computers since I was 7 years old (30 years ago). I've programmed in DOS to C to PHP. I've built servers, I've taught classes, I've blah blah blah. I know how to get shit done when it needs done and I don't know everything but I know enough.

I have tried several times over the years to make the switch from Windows and proprietary software to Linux. I love the idea that Linux is open and that there's such a huge community of open source out there. I really want to embrace it.

But every single time I have tried to make the jump, it's been made clear to me what the difference is. Most of the points made in your post are true. Documentation is horrible. Yes, there are a TON of sites on the internet with information and YES there are some sites that are really well done. But how does someone who has NO KNOWLEDGE of these sites find them? Telling me to "google it" is not an answer. How much time should I be spending "searching" for answers.

Most installs I have done have gone off without a hitch, but when something doesn't work, it's hell trying to find an answer. Scouring through message boards and countless other sites trying to get an answer on the simplest questions is not fun. Plus, in many instances, the Linux community comes back with the harshest of answers saying that if I don't know how to recompile my kernel, or don't know how to fix a driver issue, I shouldn't be using Linux in the first place.

These are the reasons that Linux has never and will never become a mainstream desktop OS unless there's a fundamental change in the way the OSS community treats NON-geeks. Regular users. Regular users JUST WANT STUFF TO WORK! They don't care about how it works, or why it works, they just want it to work.

This is why Windows and OS X are so popular. You can whine all you want about power hungry corporations blah blah blah. But the products they produce are easily used by millions worldwide and most of them are dumbass users who have no clue how anything works, and they are content to be that way.

So with all of that said, do you really think it's a good idea to have an OSS version of Facebook where instead of having what FB is now, we have 100 crappy copies of it that are all basically the same thing but with very minute differences? How does that HELP anyone?

Re:Great, open source (1)

vbraga (228124) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068724)

Most installs I have done have gone off without a hitch, but when something doesn't work, it's hell trying to find an answer. Scouring through message boards and countless other sites trying to get an answer on the simplest questions is not fun. Plus, in many instances, the Linux community comes back with the harshest of answers saying that if I don't know how to recompile my kernel, or don't know how to fix a driver issue, I shouldn't be using Linux in the first place.

Funny. Just like you, I tried to migrate from a mostly Windows desktop to Linux. My install borked completely - reasons unknow. But if there was something that surprised me a lot was the willingness of the community to help me. People - on the openSUSE forum and IRC channel - were amazing. Every obscure way to try to get things working was tried - and it finally worked. This myth that the community is harsh or unfriendly is unjustified. If you want to give Linux a try again I suggest you - if you can't find answers on a trivial Google search - to ask on the forums or on IRC. There's a lot of people - myself included - waiting to help.

Re:Great, open source (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068774)

Telling me to "google it" is not an answer.

Why not?

Imagine that I had never used Windows. Where would I go to look for documentation? Microsoft doesn't provide documentation any longer, aside from the context help system. And that's just as bad as any other context help system, be it on a Linux box or on a Mac. Really.

I think you're confusing widespread knowledge from friends or co-workers (or maybe even your own) as documentation.

Sometimes an internet search is exactly what's needed.

Re:Great, open source (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068826)

We already have 100 crappy copies - we've got Facebook, Myspace, Bebo etc etc. There is some overlap in functionality but the basis is the same - a profile, a friends list, private and public messages, a "wall" of some form, maybe apps, etc. That's part of the problem.

Instead of this would it not be better to have an invisible (to the user) infrastructure that can connect these together?

Obviously users want things that just work, but people still like a choice and why can't they have a choice of things that just work? Some people like Mac OS, some like Linux and some prefer Windows but no matter which one I choose I can still send an email to someone on a different platform. Similarly some people like Facebook, some like Bebo and some like Myspace (ok that might not be true anymore...myspace really does suck) but you can't log in to myspace and send a message to someone on Facebook.

Re:Great, open source (1)

magellanic (689252) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068624)

Your post nothing but thinly-veiled FUD. I can't even tell what point you are trying to make, as your arguments aren't at all analogous to a social network.

An OSS Facebook will have hundreds of competing distros,

There are very few serious distributions that compete for the same niche market.

several dozen kernel forks,

Most distributions commit kernel fixes back to upstream or backport them to older versions.

Countless different versions of the standards that developers will argue over for years

s/argue/collaborate/

horrid UI's

Compared to what?

It's pretty well known that you should never let programmers design user interfaces.

and no documentation

I've used a lot of free software so far, and it's extremely rare that there is no documentation. Just because it's not in your preferred format, doesn't mean it's non-existent.

New users wishing to convert over from commercial Facebook will be told "Well, first you have to decide if you want to go with a RTH, KJG, RTY, or TTTY desktop interface; then you need to pick a client from this list which you can download from this obscure irc channel; then you need to config it to your router and find the drivers for your system; and you might also need to download and install Java, Greasemonkey, and a compiler to create binaries for your particular OS" and presented with a long list of bug fixes in lieu of a user manual.

Despite your example being exaggerated, I've never had to do anything so ridiculous using any free operating system. I'm willing to accept that a minority of applications have less than perfect installation procedures, but fortunately, there is rarely a shortage of alternatives in the free software world -- you can often find something better.

And before you mod me troll, know that this is exactly what Linux (and plenty of other OSS) looks like to a non-geek user.

What does a non-geek need to know about kernel versions, distributions etc. to use Ubuntu for their non-geek activities (i.e. web browsing, writing documents and listening to music)? All these activities are possible with the default installs.

Re:Great, open source (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068808)

You do realize you're on a forum powered by Open Source software, right? And yet you no trouble posting. So what's your objection again?

Seriously (3, Interesting)

alinuxguruofyore (1117973) | more than 4 years ago | (#33067938)

Yes, and just like Sendmail prevented Microsoft from a $1 Billion a year messaging platform (Exchange) and Linux prevented Microsoft from a $15 Billion a year Server platform. *yawn* Nothing to see here, please move along.

Re:Seriously (2, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068094)

Exchange uses SMTP to send and receive mail. Linux and unencumbered BSDs pretty much killed off the commercial UNIX market. Solaris is limping along, and AIX is off in its little world, but that's not really saying much. OS X technically counts, but their target market isn't really the same. What happened to the gazillion other Unicies? All dead.

I'm not sure I get the fixation everyone has with Microsoft. Exchange provides additional services which many people apparently find useful. Zimbra is a competing open source product, not SMTP. SMTP and IMAP is good enough for my purposes, and I suspect good enough for many other geek types, however we generally also attempt to avoid meetings and other crap that calendar sharing and whatnot provided by Exchange, Zimbra, Google Apps, or Lotus all provide.

Please, please let this happen. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33067948)

That little prick Markie Z. deserves to be poor.

Re:Please, please let this happen. (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068576)

If he is familiar with the concept of a bank account, he will not be poor. However, it will be fun to see that smug and arrogant look get wiped off of his face as his the number of his users dwindle.

Farmville! (5, Insightful)

AntEater (16627) | more than 4 years ago | (#33067976)

Unless they can get Farmville ported to an open platform most facebook users will never leave no matter hope open or technically superior an alternative is.

Re:Farmville! (4, Funny)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068046)

Unless they can get Farmville ported to an open platform most facebook users will never leave no matter hope open or technically superior an alternative is.

But Farmville [google.com] *is* an open platform. Anyone can go there and try their hand at farming!

Re:Farmville! (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068098)

Unless they can get Farmville ported to an open platform most facebook users will never leave no matter hope open or technically superior an alternative is.

I don't know, I "deactivated" my facebook. And felt disconnected, as all my contacts are integrated on my Android system and everybody is communicating in that fashion. (when I did, people from all over the world started texting asking me wherever I died.)

The "Farmville" and other apps like that are on ignore on my facebook.

The same with holiday pictures: instead of having to show alot of people my pictures, I just dump them on facebook; who cares looks at them (people who were there, family, ...), who doesn't ignores them while it takes me only once a small effort compared to physically have someone sit next to you watching or to setup a dedicated site/album/... with only the pictures to see. (there's a seemingless integration aspect).

So yes, I would hop on the opensource bandwagon as I don't want to be locked into a service which acts questionably with my data. And I'm certain once this is available, there's the possibility to migrate your data through the facebook API and aggregate your content to other services from your opensource driven base.

This discussion has come up quite a few times already: "are we going to decentralize our social activity online" "are we going to opensource it" "can we still trust facebook" "what about privacy? it's all so obscure", "what about security with my data?", ...


When will we see actual implementations? Are they too busy facebooking? In the 90s people made websites from scratch with cats, animated gifs *and* wrote alot of software for the fun of it and the experimentat and not so much being stuck in just the "dreaming up phase" or "plausability analysis".

Re:Farmville! (1)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068260)

There is an open source social networking platform called Elgg (elgg.org). Feel free to download it, and roll out your own implementation, and invite your friends.

Re:Farmville! (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068148)

Sad but probably true, every time I check Facebook I have tons of invites for whatever the new 'ville is that I haven't blocked yet.

Just a thought (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 4 years ago | (#33067988)

Now that Facebook has amassed more than 500 million users

Shouldn't we be getting some sort of a cut or dividends, since we're essentially selling our data for nothing? Do you think that would be fair?

Re:Just a thought (2, Insightful)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068110)

You're not "selling your data for nothing". You're exchanging access to your data for the ability to use a service without financial compensation to the service provider (who probably incurs substantial cost running said service). You deserve no "cut" - you already got access to Facebook. TANSTAAFL.

Re:Just a thought (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068158)

I'm confused. Facebook is a commercial site. You joined, they give you free service, they get paid for ads. Enough people join, they make more money.

What do you think would be "fair" about them paying you money to use the site? Conversely, what do you think is "unfair" about them not paying you for something they've never, ever mentioned a single word about paying anyone to do?

"Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian."
  - Dennis Wholey

Technology isn't Facebook's value per se (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068010)

Facebook provides a few things, in no small part because of its sheer size:

1) Ability to find most of the people you know easily.
2) Ability to share a lot of information in a really, really easy with people.
3) Ability to do web-based social gaming in that same context.
4) Bring together basic blog and community organizing features.

The open source hurdles are really:

1) Discovering users.
2) Sharing assets between sites.
3) Coordinating communications between sites (if one wants to create something analogous to Facebook's wall).

Those are big hurdles, especially the ability (or perception of being able) to accurately discover other users one knows. Most of us here know that there is no guarantee that someone who claims to be a particular identity on Facebook isn't Chester the Molester, an enemy masquerading as a friend who didn't have an account before, etc. However, Facebook is perceived as safe by a lot of people, and an open environment would be perceived of in quite different terms.

key word is easy (1)

snooo53 (663796) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068522)

I think you've hit on the right features Facebook provides, but the key word here in all of them is "EASY". That is the biggest hurdle for open source... providing an easy end user experience. That, and attracting developers.

Re:Technology isn't Facebook's value per se (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068848)

#1 is the biggest hurdle any social networking site has to beat to beat FB at their own game. I recently got back in touch with some old shipmates from the Navy, guys I hadn't spoken to in 20 years who are now on my friends list. Without a central repository of user accounts, there's no way we would've ever gotten back in touch.

Running your own microblogging service is great for businesses and organizations who want to keep their customers/partners/employees in the know about events, and it might even be good for keeping in touch with people you're already in touch with. But so far I haven't seen any realistic ways to find old friends posited. If someone can figure that part out then FB will die the death it deserves.

I don't get the comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068026)

You can use your own email on Facebook
You can Manage and link up pictures from other sources on Facebook
You can Twit from Facebook
Facebook bring everyone's different technologies under one Portal ...To bad Google didn't think of it.

This Will be the Year! (1)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068030)

2011 will be the year of Lin...no wait. I mean 2011 will be the year of open source social networks on the desk...er, in your browser.

We need peer2peer social networking (2, Insightful)

coder111 (912060) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068044)

This is the only way to ensure you control it. Distributed hosting, where friends host their friends' status if they are offline. Everything crypted/signed with public/private keys to ensure no spoofing. Ability to create pseudonyms and enter as much personal data as I want, and possibility of anonimity.

Something like that I'd actually sign up for.

--Coder

Re:We need peer2peer social networking (1)

alinuxguruofyore (1117973) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068132)

That is like saying we need meatless burgers. Sure, Boca Burgers are definitely in the shape and approximate texture of beef, but it is anything but a burger.

Like AOL? Really? (2, Insightful)

nateand (1487549) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068078)

Did AOL ever have even close to 500 million users, much less worldwide? If facebook ever dies, it'll be a slow and drawn out process.

Re:Like AOL? Really? (2, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068196)

It's not impossible. Remember, no one is paying to be on Facebook (well except the advertisers) so no one has a buy-in mentality other than the time spent on their profiles. If there were a site that offered better privacy (by default), the ability to "suck" all the profile information from Facebook (simple API trick) and better features (like NO FUCKING FARMVILLE ALLOWED) then I think a lot of people would switch. Heck, you could have a service that simply pushed/pulled Facebook info to sync it up with this new site, so you wouldn't have to give up your facebook contacts as much as you would just have to give up visiting their godawful website.

Something will topple Facebook... (5, Insightful)

Fortunato_NC (736786) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068084)

It might be open source, or it might not be, but eventually, someone will come along with a "better Facebook than Facebook", and it will slowly die.

That's just creative destruction at work. It ALWAYS happens.

Facebook was a better MySpace than MySpace.
MySpace was a better Friendster than Friendster.
Friendster was a better Classmates.com than Classmates.com. ...and so on...

Google was a better Altavista than Altavista.
AOL Instant Messenger was a better ICQ than ICQ.
USENET was a better BBS than old-school dialup bulletin board.
Books were better scrolls than scrolls.

Something newer and better is going to come along. People talk about Facebook and the network effect "locking in" people, but creative destruction is even more powerful than the network effect.

Re:Something will topple Facebook... (1, Informative)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068430)

Books were better scrolls than scrolls.

The technical term for a bound volume is a codex. Both codices and scrolls are books.

Re:Something will topple Facebook... (1)

bigdaisy (30400) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068644)

It is not necessarily because something "better" comes along. It may be entirely sufficient for something "else" to come along. (Allegedly) teenagers using MySpace discovered that their parents had signed up, so they had to go somewhere else to protect their "privacy" and Facebook became the new darling. Now that their parents have signed up to Facebook, the teenagers are probably on the look-out for something else.

Another thing that mitigates the network effect is that these services are not mutually exclusive. A user and a few friends can sign up to a new service and watch it grow while still maintaining a presence in the old service. Perhaps the user will only post the more incriminating pics of their "private" lives on the new service, so that their parents won't see them. Thus, a new exclusive club is started, but a day will come when it is not exclusive enough and users seeking more "privacy" will move on so they can feel special again.

It is hard to argue with TFA that wrapping a few open standards around photo sharing sites, contact lists, e-mail, etc. might be enough to start a revolution--might. With e-mail, for example, we can have traditional mail applications (MUAs), web-mail, IMAP, SMTP, POP3, etc., but they all work together and users can choose whatever combination they want to do their e-mailing. All it takes is some cleverness and we can have a similar profusion of broadly compatible aggregation applications that perform a similar role to Facebook. We can already see this happening with the way Facebook support is being integrated into, for example, MS Outlook and smartphones.

Re:Something will topple Facebook... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068792)

However Open Source is not a service... It is a licensing model. Now they may make an Open Specification for sharing this information across multiple sites. And that may work for a bit until you get too much crap. Or a new method deals with handling that much crap better.

I am not a big supporter for Open Source. I am though a big supporter of Open Specification. Why? Open Source is focused on the software... In the most part no one really cares about the source code. Often the time it takes for you an analyze the source and do a fix would be less then creating a new solution. Also your changes to the Open Source version will be under public scrutiny, and if it under GNU you loose rights for your changes. In a Utopian world this sounds good and all... However we don't live their, commercial closed source software exists, and they will be maintained and supported and have their niche that open source will not fill in.

Open Source isn't a superset of Open Specification. You can have Open Source but use some odd standard that no one is willing to follow, or just coded in a way that isn't obvious to someone who is basing their code or moving to a different platform. Open Specification gives the end users the tools to make new applications based on the specifications which can be compatible with other tools that follow the same specification as well it allows them to have competitive advantages over others so they can actually make money doing their work, or make it work with different things that may normally have legal problems with say with the GPL, trying to connect to a Patented Subsystem.

This will likely happen... (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068102)

The future might well be open social networks, but it will take a lot of time. There are huge challenges ahead, given the amount of data that has to be aggregated and displayed. Facebook does some very clever stuff to aggregate all those status updates, comments, images, etc. into your news feed. Doing this across the Internet instead of in a data centre will require a lot more bandwidth and less latency than we currently have.

I'm sure a lot of people here on Slashdot are happy to bash Facebook, but it can be a quite powerful social tool. Especially for keeping track of upcoming (IRL) events that you might be interested in it works quite well. (Why manually monitor the websites of a bunch of clubs when I can just join their Group on Facebook and get event invites automativally?) You can also filter out all the stupid games from the news feed. I barely remember that Farmwille exists anymore. ;)

My point is that it will take a lot of progress before a decentralized architecture can match what Facebook can do now. It's doable, but it certainly ain't trivial.

e-bay (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068104)

you have the same issue that competitors to e-bay have; Name,

Makes sense (2, Interesting)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068126)

I honestly think I could work pretty well. Basically a distributed client side setup with the big things that facebook does and (for the most part) does well: Share stuff with people you know - statuses, comments, messages, photos. Build something like a Pidgin/Yahoo messenger client which can pull status & wall feeds from friends who are online and from common friends who have updated information on friends who are not online. For photo sharing, have an interface with one of the big photo sites (or all of them) for photos.

Re:Makes sense (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068538)

"back in the day," aka the mid-to-late 90s, I managed just fine to keep track of contacts on ICQ and later moving to AIM, plus the people I knew in various IRC channels on a couple of different servers, though I mostly hung out on EFNet. Most of the IRC people and about half the ICQ people, I had never met in person and never did. All the AIM people where from school. Different "friend circles" didn't know, or need to know, about each other in 90% of cases. Email was completely separate. If I wanted to give information to one group of people, but not others, that was incredibly easy.

When FB was for .EDUs only, it was fairly useful for me, but now its really not. It's actually down-right creepy. Maybe I'm just not hip enough, with my choosing Perl over Ruby and my none-smartphone that actually makes calls, but I'm not sure that an "open source social network" would actually end up being any better than Facebook is now. I skunked by FB data over the course of time, slowly started removing fields, and then ultimately did the account delete about a week or so ago. If people want to contact me, they can get me on IM, via Email, or just friggin' call me. People I don't want to know certain things never find out, and I don't have to worry about bullshit.

Personally, I'm not sure it matters what the mechanism for the 'social network' is, or who controls the mechanism. Who is going to guarantee that an "open source" social network is going to be any better for my privacy or security? I don't think they can. I'd just be another thing to waste time on and cause problems. I can still keep in contact with everyone who matters without the facebook or myspace or other bullshit and am of the opinion that if someone won't answer the phone when you call or send an sms, they probably aren't your friend anyway, no matter how many status updates they "like" when they mindlessly go through clicking "like" on everything that pops up while they're trying not to pay attention in class or life.

FB Disks? (2, Funny)

spyingwind (961097) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068146)

So I can get a Facebook Official diskette/CD?

Maybe Social Media will change (2, Insightful)

Pete Venkman (1659965) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068156)

I don't want a "new facebook" even if it's open source. Social media started off great, but from what I've seen a lot of it turns into posts about what someone ate for breakfast or how they hate rainy afternoons. I don't CARE about 99% of the stuff that my "friends" post about. If the cost of dumping facebook is no longer being plugged in to the social scene, then I say someone else can have it.

I think a problem with social media is that there is a presumption that someone cares about YOU. Why do you make a facebook page? Because you want to let your friends know what YOU are up to. Who fucking cares? Do something worthwhile and then people who care can find out about you that way.

Re:Maybe Social Media will change (1)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068340)

Yes, how dare people presume other people care about them? The presumptuousness is preposterous!

You know, you're perfectly welcome not to use any social media sites. Lots of people like sharing trivialities with their friends, clearly. I'd go so far as to say that's mostly what having friends is about, as opposed to colleagues.

Render Facebook Obsolete? (4, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068170)

No, Facebook will render Facebook obsolete. A lot of people are spending less time on their now than they did before. The novelty is wearing off, and eventually people won't care about it at all. It will eventually be replaced not by one single thing but by a variety of better things, including actual human-to-human interaction.

Re:Render Facebook Obsolete? (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068680)

A generation was introduced to the online world through AOL. As young people were introduced to the web, the relevance of AOL went away, and it failed. Now young people are introduced to the web through services like Facebook. If this continues, through groups of young people, it won't matter that they migrate away as they become more sophisticated. There will always be a new group of young people who want to feel popular.

The primary danger to Facebook is that something simler comes along. The attractiveness of Facebook is not only the social content, but also the ability to generate and, more importantly, consume content. The secondary danger is that Facebook is not able to monitize content. Data for children is not so valuable. Data for 25-40 is. So the issue will be to have a sizable number of post college people, who are worried about their careers, continue to use the service.

Re:Render Facebook Obsolete? (3, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068682)

It will eventually be replaced not by one single thing but by a variety of better things, including actual human-to-human interaction.

How, by teleporting me to see my friends all over the world? If you could teleport me across the internet, I wouldn't be using the technology to idly chat with relatives and old class-mates, if you catch my drift. I'd use it go get a Monster drink everytime I need one. Like right now. Oh sweet blue Monster, how I miss you.

Re:Render Facebook Obsolete? (1)

aBaldrich (1692238) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068696)

I put my hopes in diaspora [joindiaspora.com] .

You obviously haven't been looking at the trends (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068840)

Since the internet hit the mainstream, the trend has been to have less human-to-human interaction. It started with things like IRC, USENet, and email, and has expanded to Web-based forums, blogs, comments on the bottom of news websites, and Facebook. Human to Human interaction is messy. Humans are dumb, annoying, selfish, greedy, and lazy. But on Facebook, humans are reduced to some cute pictures and a periodic status. One can communicate light heartedly with your "friends" simply by replying to comments or posting your own and look for comments. It's not as real, but it filters out all the hassle of having to make plans, go outside, and deal with other people you don't want to deal with, like your friend's significant other or relatives.

"Better" is relative. Human to human contact is to Facebook as good restaurants are to McDonalds. You have to invest time looking into restaurants and risk bad or mediocre restaurants in order to find the good ones or even the best one. McD's is unhealthy and boring, but to the untrained pallete it still takes just fine, it feeds your hunger, and it's incredibly easy to get because it's the same at every single chain. When I was a kid, McDonalds was great. Now that I've grown up, I have figured out there are better foods out there, both better tasting and better for you.

Maybe more of your friends spend less time on facebook, but I know a ton of people who are still on there, and new people are being added daily, in the form of teens who want to be part of the trend.

Oh and before you point out that there's a trend in schools and families to wean kids off fast food and the like because it's bad for you in general, there's no such movement for facebook yet. Only parents yelling at their kids to get off the computer, and kids never listen until you pull the plug and force them to go outside and password protect the computer.

Could Open Source Render Facebook the Next AOL? (1)

Carik (205890) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068242)

No, assuming you mean "could open source shut down Facebook". But a really good open source application could. So could a really good closed source application.

See, outside a relatively small community of OSS fans, no one really cares whether their software is open source or not. What they want to know is, "Does this software do what I want, is it easy to use, and is it cheaper than the alternatives?" Note the order -- it's important. If if doesn't do what they want, ease of use doesn't matter. If it doesn't do what they want and something else is easier to use, cost doesn't matter. And nowhere on that list is "Does the coding style match my personal ideology regarding freedom and politics." People just don't care.

If you want to have open source software take over the computer world, make it better than closed source software, and make it easier to use. And when you go to advertise it, push those two aspects. Tell people how great it is, how fast it is, how simple it is, how powerful it is. Tell them you can sell it for 2/3 the price of the software they've been using. Tell them all their old files will translate across with no problems. They'll be thrilled. The minute you start talking about freedom, they're going to stop listening.

I hope so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068328)

Zuckerberg strikes me as being a giant douchebag, he will hopefully fail hard and end up as a homeless heroin addict.

You Betcha! (4, Insightful)

assertation (1255714) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068360)

I see articles everyday that satisfaction is low among Facebook users. They are hanging around, in part, because there aren't any worthy alternatives from their perspective.

Once Diaspora is out, I'm getting a few good friends to sign up with me, then I'm deleting my Facebook account.

If Facebook pulls another "We did this, we didn't tell you, we don't care and you'll like it" stunt after that point, many other Facebook users will dump them too.

Yes, please. (1)

rhythmx (744978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068394)

Pretty please?

It is already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068486)

all the ***heads are on there, wasn't that what happened to AOL?

tubg1rl (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068488)

GNAA on slashdot, luck I'll find company a 2 came as a complete Usenet is roughly which al7ows create, manufacture You don't need to don't want to feel worse and worse. As no7orious OpenBSD My efforts were than a fraction on an endeavour of Walnut Creek, You down. It was mire of decay,

modH up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33068594)

AAl our ti8es have

Yes, it could. (3, Interesting)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068674)

Yeah, I've had this idea as well. Because Facebook is simple. It's a webpage with text and pictures uploaded by users that has interfaces with others' web page. Rather then facebook or myspace, an open source alternative that people would run on their own. Websites with "user" uploaded content are, you know, old hat, so this boils down to protocols to deal with interaction between sites. And remember, this IS the social portion of social networks.

so what are all these interactions that need protocols:
-Establishing networks of trust, friendship, and hate. That whole "friends request" thing.

And that's essentially the only one that's required to make an open source distributed social network like facebook. Everything else is, not trivial, but it's been done. If it can be made cheap and simple enough (that itself a monumental task), then the masses could use it. But they won't, as inertial will keep them in facebook.
The rest is just features:

-Poke. It's one freaking message.
-Post on another wall/picture/whatnot. It's been done.
-Search through others pictures for tags of you.
-Set up events, invite people.
-Establish groups of people. The owner would host of course, but transferring ownership could be interesting.
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