[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Social-discuss] The next step

From: Matt Lee
Subject: [Social-discuss] The next step
Date: Thu, 06 May 2010 15:20:57 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686 (x86_64); en-US; rv: Gecko/20100317 Thunderbird/3.0.4

## Thoughts on Facebook

This is meant as a design document, as well as a commentary on our views
for the future goal of creating a distributed, free social network. Part
of it is designed to answer questions about some of the existing work
that FooCorp has been involved with, and some ideas for where we should
head next, in order to achieve our goal.

### The problem

Monolithic social networking sites are, in our opinion, bad -- bad for
privacy, bad for user freedom, bad for autonomy. People ought to be able
to have better control over their private information, people ought to
be able to see how the software that uses their data works (and change
it) and people ought to be able to use social software to communicate
without the need for third-party services, hungry for advertising revenue.

Therefore, we believe a solution to these things has these three steps:

* Tools which are easy for the typical user to understand and control.

* Tools which are easy for novice programmers to comprehend and modify.

* Tools which are secure, yet easily installed and upgraded by novices.

We don't believe the answer to this problem exists in a product or
service, but rather in a collection of products and services, created by
the free software community, on top of existing free software platforms.
A free software solution would adhere to a simple, but common protocol,
allowing the very basic social networking archetypes to be expressed,
without hindering progress of development of other features or enhancements.

For some time now, we have been investigating free service development,
and understanding the desires for the creation of social software. These
are our conclusions:

* While most people want something browser based, a protocol needs to be
developed that permits desktop clients as well.

* The protocol should work over HTTP.

* The current state of low-cost web hosting makes PHP and MySQL the
clear contenders as the development platform of choice, much to the
chagrin of some.

* A testbed application needs to be created for people to see how the
protocol should function.

With that, we present our vision for GNU social.

### GNU social

GNU social is a project to create social software in the GNU project, as
part of the GNU operating system.

GNU social should not be a replacement for Facebook, and GNU social
should not be in the business of creating user facing software.

There are plenty of smart people who are already building cool
autonomous projects, like StatusNet, which took microblogging to the
next level, Filmaster, providing a highly polished social reviewing
site, and our own GNU FM project that thanks to the efforts of some
other smart folks, powers, our free music service. In addition,
there are numerous upcoming projects, all hoping to shine through with
their own solution for the decentralized social networking problem, the
latest of which Diaspora, appears to be making great waves of progress
of its own.

Instead, we propose GNU social as something different to all these
projects, and something common to them all as well. GNU social should
instead lead on the creation of the glue that ties these projects
together, as well as a simple, functional example of a basic social
networking site, intended as a demonstration and proof of concept, not a
contender in its own right.

The initial work of the GNU social project should therefore be the
development of a simple social networking protocol, agreed on by the
other players in this space, simultaneously with the creation of the
proof of concept, followed by sustained advocacy of the GNU social
concept to other free software projects, and the creation of new social
tools, both browser and desktop clients.

What does the protocol look like? We'll be working with some of the best
people out there in the free software and social web communities to
bring you that answer.

Thanks for reading,

Rob Myers and Matt Lee
Chief Paradigm Officers
May 6th 2010


Attachment: signature.asc
Description: OpenPGP digital signature

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]