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Re: [Social-discuss] Looking how to help

From: Max Shinn
Subject: Re: [Social-discuss] Looking how to help
Date: Sun, 2 May 2010 19:00:05 -0500 (CDT)
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> Sure thing. I have been giving this some thought for awhile and I feel as
> though:
> A social network should not come in place of real human interaction (in
> real
> life, in the outside world, or however you want to define this). So, to
> me,
> a social network is a tool that extends my minds ability to interact  - it
> facilitates and extends real world interactions. I believe the "cloud
> based
> computing" phenomena of centralization of data to be kind of how our food
> distribution system in America evolved (and perhaps elsewhere), that we
> gave
> up our own ability to grow food in favor of bigger, more systematized
> ways.
> These ways have not turned out to be better, its always good to know how
> to
> grow our own food and make things ourselves. So, this to me is the spirit
> of
> what free, open source software and GNU Social could be about - creating
> know-how in a community, and creating your own community.
> I don't like the idea of Social Networks being about blogging or tweeting
> about personal egotistical traits - like "oh I just brushed my teeth", or
> "hey I have 500 friends I don't even know!". However, some personal
> information is useful, but when it comes down to it reading about someone
> and knowing them are two different things - a social network should
> encourage the latter. My perspective is its a useful tool to create
> community - so features like...
>    - Facebook Groups - ability to schedule events and invite/message
>    everyone who attends. Ability to inform people of what is going on.
> This is
>    great, except the data is owned by Facebook and its extremely limited.
> I
>    would like iCal feeds and RSS feeds and the ability to extend my group
> to do
>    extra things (a more Drupal CMS approach - which, by the way is what I
> am
>    well versed in and have a high opinion of).
>    - Ning Networks - the ability to spontaneously create a whole social
>    network around a topic or a community. One where I live is extremely
>    successful (, however all the data is on
>    Ning. They want to become "the community calendar", but have no way to
>    integrate with other networks. If GNU Social could be a "hub of
> community
>    interactions/events" that would be great.
>    - Single Sign On (like Facebook Connect, Google, OpenID) - its very
>    useful to have a social network login be used as the login for other
> sites.
>    In my community I've built many Drupal sites with OpenID capability,
> would
>    be nice to let people login and post and contribute there without
> having to
>    create a separate login.
>    - Data Portability / Integration - would be nice to have a social
> network
>    that allowed me to control what was seen/not seen and could allow me to
>    import/export data whenever I saw fit.
> Perhaps some of this is outside of the scope of what you are trying to
> accomplish or is completely irrelevant, but I hope that it will be useful
> in
> your creation of GNU Social. If its about facilitating human
> consciousness,
> choice, and getting people to connect in real life, then I would love to
> promote it and use it in many places. I don't have the answers as to how
> we
> could accomplish these features on a technical level, but its easy to lose
> sight of technology just being a tool, and its easy to get feature driven.
> What will make GNU Social a success is if human beings use it to create
> useful, meaningful life experiences. Such as "I used GNU Social to plan my
> wedding, it was awesome". Or, "I used GNU Social to facilitate to a
> community rally supporting a cause and got 500 people to show up".

I couldn't agree with you more.  An "identity server" such as "OpenID on
steroids" with separate components is something nobody has really brought
up yet.

Following this paradigm, GNU Social could evolve to be the "core", an
identity server, plus additional scripts (photo gallery, profile, groups,
etc.) that run independently.

This would solve the problem of depending on the domain provider.  The
connection could be verified as the given person through a GPG signature
or similar.  This would also allow us destroy the illusion that a real
person can be represented by a url, which is one of my personal gripes
with social networks.

The other advantage to this is that services will start popping up all
over the place that use one's GNU Social identity.  GNU Social, then,
would consist of three components:
1. The core - the identity server, which manages the most basic functions,
and keeps track of other sites using its identity
2. The framework - a set of libraries for various programming languages
that make it easy to develop apps that use GNU Social
3. The vital applications - a few "official" applications for GNU Social,
such as a photo gallery, group server, etc.  All of these would function
without the others, so individuals can choose whether or not they want to
use each component.

The other advantage to this is that it makes it easier for one to run
one's own server.  One of the biggest problems with running a server for
many people is bandwidth.  Separating these parts would allow an
individual to elect to host their own identity server, but use a 3rd party
for bandwidth heavy aspects.  This person could then use a friend's group
server, etc.  The possibilities are endless, giving the user even more
freedom in the end.

If a user starts out on a 3rd party identity server and later wants to
host it, moving the data to a new server and sending out appropriate pings
(with some sort of GPG signature) would be enough to make all of the
necessary updates.  If one component goes down, the rest of the network
doesn't go with it.

Individual applications that use one's GNU Social identity could then
enable or disable additional features based on which other applications
are installed.  It would work sort of like Drupal modules do.  If a "my
favorites" application is being used, the user may optionally authorize
the core to send information from other GNU Social-based applications.

This idea seems to eliminate many of the problems that GNU Social is
currently going through.  Thoughts?

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