On 03/22/2010 08:06 PM, Melvin Carvalho wrote:
Skype doesn't really have a server of any level of power; it's a p2p
protocol from what I have heard. There's just the desktop client. But I
am very much not of the opinion that power and usability are
contradictory goals. I've never used Skype personally, so I can't
comment on the UI. It certainly should be feasible to create a web
server that's easy to administer for less technically savvy users
(there are already better servers in this respect than Apache that are
still used on some big name sites), and that I think would be a worthy
project, but this is the GNU Social list, let's not get sidetracked,
let's do the social networking piece first, and just make it portable
enough (which is already a goal anyway) that when a web server comes
along that solves that problem, people can use our existing software
2010/3/23 Ian Denhardt <address@hidden>
On 03/22/2010 05:04 PM, Henry Litwhiler wrote:
I am new to the GNU Social project, and I
that I'd add my two cents.
While it is certainly important for people to maintain their privacy,
most people are unwilling to sacrifice convenience for privacy,
something that is made evident by the success of centralized social
networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Most people aren't
concerned about privacy, and most people aren't concerned about how
free their software is. Of course, there are those who do care
about these things, and this tool would certainly be attractive
to them, but this tool will not be very successful both in the sense of
popularity and in the sense of the protection of others' privacy if it
is not also better than nonfree, privacy-threatening services
In short, it isn't going to be successful if it is not also better, in
addition to being free (as in speech) and private. It will be almost
impossible for us to make this more convenient to set up than
centralized alternatives (it's easier to just create an account on a
web site than it is to setup a home social networking server) - that is
something we will have to accept. The only way that we can bring high
usership despite that drawback is if the product defeats centralized
alternatives in most of the remaining categories (features,
ease-of-use, etc.). While this may be something of a daunting task, I
have no doubt that we are capable of overcoming it.
That said, this project will not (regardless of design or intentions)
be just an alternative to preexisting social networking sites - it will
be a solid foundation for the decentralization of the internet as we
At it's inception, the internet was meant as nothing more than a way
for a few key government facilities to quickly transmit large amounts
of information between one another. Businesses soon got involved with
the same intentions, and, finally, so did individuals. The internet was
designed so that any "node" could interact with any other node,
directly. For a time, many people with internet access would run their
own servers, hosting web pages about themselves and things they were
interested in. ISPs, however, soon learned that they could make more
money by forcing people to pay to run their own web servers
properly, and thus came this idea of dynamic IP addresses, which will
be a serious but certainly solvable roadblock to any project (including
this one) that seeks to move the internet towards decentralization.
>From there, personal web servers died out, to the point where only
commercial enterprises actually ran their own servers, which brings us
to today. Now, we almost never directly connect from computer to
computer. People now use social networking sites to communicate,
multiplayer video games are hosted on remote servers, and email is
entirely handled by massive datacenters in the middle of nowhere. The
internet's capability for users to directly connect to one another is
By utilizing a variety of decentralization peer discovery and
authentication techniques, we can override any attempts by ISPs to
prevent direct user-to-user communication, and allow any and all users
to host their own data on their own servers.
Another (perhaps underrepresented) advantage to the usage of such an
open, decentralized system is the idea of data preservation. Websites
come and go (both in the sense of losing popularity, and in the related
sense of shutting down completely), often leaving users lacking all
their old social interactions and personal data. I'm not talking about
the related privacy concerns (though those are certainly relevant) but
instead of the preservation and continuity of data. By standardizing a
certain (open) format for private data of many types, we can ensure
that the private data and, ultimately, the entirety of internet
culture, is never lost to the changing of technology.
A bit long winded, perhaps, but valid points, I think.
with regards to the dynamic IP thing, that's pretty easy to get around.
My servers have dynamic IPs and I was able to find even free (gratis)
services that will do DNS for me, it just requires me running an extra
daemon on my box (which is free (libre)) to notify the DNS of any
changes in IP.
I think technical knowledge is actually a big reason why people don't
generally run their own website on their own boxes. Even if installing
GNU social comes down to extracting an archive, going to a web page
that corresponds to part of that extracted archive, and doing as much
work on that site as one does for Wordpress (which is very little,)
setting up Apache for example, can be more difficult. That's not going
to change easily.
However, there are web apps that given an existing GLAMP server, are
very easy to install, such as the aformentioned Wordpress, and I fully
believe GNU social can be one of them. So even if a user isn't
tech-savvy enough to set up their own web server, they can still get a
pretty cheap web host, extract an archive, copy it onto their
provider's server, click next a few times, and be ready to roll. This
is why we've chosen PHP as the implementation language - it's available
virtually everywhere, and there have been a number of successful free
web applications written in it.
I think it would be nice to someday have a way that the average user
can safely and easily set up their own web server, but that seems
slightly outside of our scope, for now at least.
I think something like skype has a good combination of ease of
installation combined with a powerful server. Though perhaps difficult
to replicate something as user friendly as skype.
Well, you can move the profile itself, but then (unless I'm being
ignorant of some fact that I haven't discovered) everybody else's
profile still points to the old URL. The issue I was referring to is
how do you update all those broken links? I don't think it's that hard
a problem, but I'm not sure we quite get it for free.
You're definitely right about the data preservation piece, and we need
to build into GNU social a way to hang onto your data. You should be
able to have a local copy, but I'd also really like to see a system
where I can move my data, without losing all my connections.
The advantage of using linked data principles, is that you get this for
free. When your data is global scope (e.g. FOAF profile, or status
updates), it because quite easy to move, and automatically portable.
We did come up with some concrete ideas at Libreplanet, and I'll get
around to writing those up on the ideas wiki page soon.