It is not about just using some alternative to Twitter, the real advantage begins when you host it yourself so that you can own your own content and post whatever you want (not what some company wants you to) and (perhaps) syndicate to other services like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc.
I just gave a small talk about all this last week: https://jeena.net/media/2016/IndieWeb-Jeena.pdf
Given the way Facebook, et al, are evolving however, I think the market will make this question moot faster than we can answer it.
I have automatic security updates enabled on both systems but I tend to login from time to time and do a dist-upgrade on them manually.
Why someone would want to run their own instance of their favorite web app when most are given away for free, no maintenance required.
It basically comes down to trusting Big Media or trusting your neighbour with your data.
I personally doubt we'll see a big breakthrough for Big Media alternatives because people go where their friends are.
I am unfortunately expecting fragmentation in that field, sort of like reverting back to the early days of the internet when us nerds who could connect were considered a subculture. Now that everyone can connect we're creating a subculture of people who choose not to use Big Media and instead gravitate towards smaller and less centralized alternatives.
That doesn't matter though, I have always enjoyed being on the fringe and I believe I will continue enjoying my time there. :)
* Usenet vs Internet.
* IRC vs AOL Instant Messenger
* Email vs Xanga / Myspace / Facebook
* Torrent vs Dropbox / Cloud Storage
Federated has its advantages. Centralized has its advantages. 40 years from now, people will continue to use the federated platform. The centralized platform only stays around as long as it is profitable.
But while the centralized platform is around, things are a lot more convenient and mainstream.
Consider HTTPS, SSLv2, SSLv3, and TLS1.0, and TLS1.1. As web security standards evolved, the people who run HTTPS servers flat out refuse to upgrade the security protocols. Federated admins don't necessarily run their servers as a full time job, while centralized organizations are well funded and well paid.
It takes a lot longer for infrastructure in federated networks to upgrade. Facebook can add new features across the entire network immediately.
Imagine if you wanted to add a game protocol to IRC for example. You'd create the protocol, then you'd try to get Freenode to switch over to the new and improved game protocol, and then they won't do it. So you create your own IRC server and no one comes. You give up and open source the project. Years later, some guy finds your open source implementation and maybe the protocol finally becomes popular enough to be used... or maybe they'll use your protocol as a base for their ideas and it will evolve into something else.
When "federated" works, it is mostly due to the big players agreeing that a particular federated protocol is amazing. Take OAuth for instance, which got Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft support early.
Ultimately, it is very difficult to make money from federated services, so there's no money (or investment) going into those projects. OAuth was a pro-bono non-political effort to make the web better. Such efforts are extremely rare.
In fact, most federated protocols exist to give a particular company an advantage (or to levy disadvantages on a particular company's competitors). So there's a healthy amount of distrust to any newly proposed protocols... for good reason. Ex: Theora / MPEG4 / video tag nonsense, or DRM support in web browsers.
The big daddy federated network: Email / SMTP, was basically a research project from the late 1960s, and received public investment in the 1990s as IMAP and POP3 protocols were developed. (Anyone else remember paying for Juno email on their 33.6kbps modems?). Due to years of use, it has found its niche and no "competitor" will ever really displace it.
Free as in beer, not as in liberty, that is my problem and why I want to run my own instances.
You might not value freedom as high as I do.
Although regular users can support by simply using the services and contributing.
Up until now, the maintenance overhead has been very, very low. The hardest bit is figuring out the configuration at first. Once the initial configuration is set up, I haven't had anything needing my time, other than the occasional systemwide update (takes about a minute, and can be automated if I'm not too lazy. This is nixos, rolling back is easy if something fails. Which it hasn't until now anyway).
Obviously, hosting everything this way isn't a solution for many. I don't expect your average joe to be able to fiddle with configurations file, using the command line, or setting up a VPS. But I believe the problem is simply in tooling, and by making or improving some graphical, easy to use tools, the "federated dream" where everyone could simply host its own service and join a network isn't so impossible anymore.
If a person is good with software engineering and system administration, they don't need to pay more than few minute of their time once in a while, so SaaS are more expensive. I run various software that can be either used on subscription or self-hosted (like Sentry, GitLab CE or Drone) and my time investment in it was negligibly tiny (like... I find a deployment recipe, and run it, then check for the updates once in a while), compared to monetary fees of a hosted solution.
If a person can't do the very basic maintenance, then maintenance costs are very high (they either have to learn stuff or pay someone to do every tiny task), so SaaS probably wins there, and probably by a large margin.
Other people never touch anything in their cars and even pay for replacing the light bulbs. This obviously costs a lot of money if you let someone else do that for you. But you just have other priorities, that is ok.
I definitely don't "all you do is maintain these services"
I run my own email, XMPP, various storage (git), few simple websites and a bunch of minor services. I tinker with those, like, maybe just an hour or two a year. When I feel like I want to tinker with stuff, or I learn that I need to update.
Oh, well, and I had a bad day once in ten years when the hardware failed. Luckily, that was just a PSU failure, so besides the outage while I had to get a new one it wasn't a big deal - didn't even had to touch the backups. And this only applies when you host it on your own hardware.
Otherwise, things just work.
No, they're not. They just want to get started and go. They don't want to deal with hosting or configuring servers. Many of them might not even have the equipment to do it. That's the experience they've gotten from Twitter, and most people like that.
Ah, GNU projects. Never change.
Some people need others to think for them. Some people like to make their own decisions. GNU is for the latter ones. GNU has always been freedom of choice.
Design is overrated. Functionality and reliability are more important. Even Apple has to admit that.
If you are presented with 6 choices and you cannot reasonably tell the difference between them without spending 15-30 minutes researching all of the options, you have a bad user experience.
Design is important. People like using things that look good.
UX is vital. If a user can't figure out how to navigate through an app in a reasonable amount of time without a great deal of existing knowledge (which they may not even know where to find), your app sucks. People, even technical ones, will abandon it, even if it is more reliable and has more features than the next guy. Making things that are intuitive is really difficult. That is why people get advanced degrees in it and start consultancies that specialize in it. Usability does not just stop at GUIs on your laptop, but also jet fighter cockpits, vending machines, ATMs etc... Think about this, what good is a jet fighter if nobody can actually fly it?
That is not even to begin talking about how people with low vision can operate things. WCAG exists for a reason.
Bottom line... usability is really important.
> If you are presented with 6 choices and you cannot reasonably tell the difference between them without spending 15-30 minutes researching all of the options, you have a bad user experience.
That's the price for freedom of choice. If you are not willing to invest some time to choose than others will force you on their ways to go. This spares you some time but at the end it costs you much more because you have to give up your privacy at FB etc.
Having watched kids, teens, and 20-somethings, I've concluded that "a reasonable amount of time" to them is something on the order of 5 seconds on the outside. On a PC, they might look around and thoughtfully click on things. On a tablet or phone app, they just mash their fingers for about 3 seconds, then if they haven't seen something, move on.
This even extends to 20-somethings and game controllers. I've seen 20-somethings walk up to an 80's emulated arcade game, waggle the sticks on a controller for 2 seconds, not understand why the screen was shaking, then walk away.
There are many more than seven existing servers. Consumer choice is a good thing. User confusion less so.
I'm delighted that there is a general network of users, but that's not why I started it.
If people are not willing to invest five minutes or so what to choose then they should stick with FB and Twitter where they don't think about the consequences of releasing all their private data anyway.
Currently, the only fix is to create a brand new account on a different federation and start again.
There isn't really any "different federation". You just follow whoever you want to follow, regardless of what server they're on.
You have to start from scratch.
I can't even.
I guess there's a certain logic behind it, then -- but as a name that (1) creates a positive emotional feeling and (2) is intuitively obvious, it falls very short.
I'm not sure if the founders of email would care for names like Thunderbird and Icedove, but you'd have to ask them.
what lessons can we learn from slack vs irc? from whatsapp vs email? from usenet vs reddit? etc.
WhatsApp is SMS, isn't it?
But GNU social isn't a product. If you want to take it, add your own interface, marketing, etc... I think you'd have a product.
Then again, you're right... some things never change.
This is not a "blame the people who complain for not contributing" thing. This is a "the people who are presenting the project are doing a horrible job of it."
I think there's a misunderstanding in this submission, and perhaps around the project in general. The goal of the project isn't to provide a social network, or to provide an alternative to Twitter, but rather to provide some software that can be used for a bunch of things, and using it instead of Twitter is a subset of that.
I chose the name because I didn't want people to think of it as a "GNU social network" (GNUbook, GNUspace, etc) but rather just software that could be used to enable communication between people.
Some people have made interfaces for it that mimic Twitter, and a lot of people are using it for that kind of communication, but I don't think the project website has to make it easy for people who want to quit Twitter to use GNU social, but we can certainly point people at servers and interfaces that do that job.
People who just want twitter should just get that.
Do we just flip through a big list and show one per page load?
Right now you have "Join the federated social web
No matter which server you're on, you're part of the family!" which mentions 'federated social web' - a term most potential users probably aren't familiar with; and 'family' which doesn't have a very specific definition (i.e. is it part of the same family just because you're running the same software or does this imply a greater connection between the different servers - my understanding is that it's the second, but I'm not really sure)
I would suggest adding more info such as "You can join any server and still follow people on separate servers. Once you have an understanding of how the system works you may want to start your own server so that you can choose your own settings and have complete control of your own data!"
Also, the home page is very sparse on info. IMO the 'What is GNU Social' section shouldn't start with info about the StatusNet project, since anyone new to GNU social wouldn't know what that is. It should be something like "GNU Social is a free and open source social network (i.e. a replacement for Facebook/Twitter). It is a protocol that allows anyone to run their own server (or join someone else's!) and connect to people around the world. You can have control of your own data and the communication is as secure as you make it!" and then you can add the other info.
Some other suggestions:
The about page doesn't really say anything about what GNU Social actually is, it's just a history. The FAQ page should be linked, or included in the same page.
The FAQ page is pretty sparse and still doesn't tell much about what it actually is used for. And given the sparsity of the rest of the site, I would suggest including the FAQ page as a top level header, rather than under Resources. And a few more suggestions on questions:
"What does the federated social web mean? - It means you can run your own server and connect to other people with their own servers" or something along those lines
"How do I choose which server to join?" - You can join any server and still connect to people on separate servers, or you can start your own server!
"How do I install it myself??" - link to the install info
Also, I just clicked through to the git page, and the info you have there is a much better intro imo: "It helps people in a community, company or group to exchange short status updates, do polls, announce events, or other social activities (and you can add more!). Users can choose which people to "follow" and receive only their friends' or colleagues' status messages. It provides a similar service to sites like Twitter, Google+ or Facebook, but is much more awesome."
We're looking at revamp of our site, and this will be good feedback for that.
When I was using identi.ca it was pretty much about Linux, Open Source, and basically that was it. I never got the same level of interaction I can enjoy in Twitter; but that's not a technical issue, is just that a social network needs people to interact and identi.ca back then (and I suspect GNU Social today) was not used enough to make it interesting for me.
I tried, because you can argue that is silly to complain about not enough people using a social network if you don't start using it yourself; but at some point identi.ca got flooded with bots and people "abusing" the API instead of using the social network, and I gave up.
I love twitter because I can meet people based on common interests (eg, 8-bit computers), and also broadcast about my current projects (not sure who finds that interesting though).
To be honest, things should get really bad with Twitter for me to leave it, but then I don't think there will be a substitute (and if there's one, having my own infrastructure would be very low priority, in the same way I don't host my own XMPP server).
No, not at all. That's the Network Effect  in a nutshell.
Practically, what this means is that apart from possibly instagram, microblogging is twitter's market to lose. So long as twitter does not abuse the trust users have placed in them to manage the service, then upstart competitors (whether centralized or decentralized) will find it difficult to overcome the network advantage.
However, if twitter does not honor the informal contract and decides to abuse their power for political or social ends, they will be devaluing their product for a large segment of users. Those betrayed users are more likely to decide en masse to join a network not subject to a centralized autocratic authority. This accusation was in fact recently leveled against them , so you may see growing support for politically neutral alternatives.
And then there's tent.io, which appears to be completely unrelated but have similar goals. Is there anyone with insights on usage numbers, development activity etc. of the different projects? In other words: What's the best bet for federated, open source microblogging?
identi.ca had been the most post popular StatusNet instance until they switched to pump.io, a new project started by at least one of the StatusNet developers.
tent.io is unrelated to the others as far as i know.
Identica was a StatusNet instance it is now a Pump instance.
GNUSocial is a re-branding of StatusNet.
GNU social was its own project when StatusNet was still a thing.
GNU social, StatusNet and "Free and Social" merged to become GNU social
I considered running my own StatusNet/GNUSocial/pump.io instance, or even writing an OStatus plugin for the CMS I used to run my site on, but have come to the realisation that such software isn't the right path for federation.
If I were running a popular site with many users, e.g. a forum, then such features might be nice to add. But hosting my own multi-user, dynamic, OAuth-based Web app just for myself is crazy; especially when the only other thing my server hosts is a static HTML site (I had the same realisation that a multi-user, dynamic CMS Web app was also insecure overkill). In fact, I never used to use the identi.ca Web site anyway; I used the XMPP bot until it got turned off, then switched to RSS feeds and a custom posting command ( http://chriswarbo.net/git/warbo-utilities/branches/master/we... )
Unfortunately I've not seen a simple, single-user, no-authentication-required, non-Web-app (preferably commandline) implementation of these protocols (OStatus, Salmon, webmention, etc.) which I could use alongside a standalone, untrusted API endpoint on my server.
I spotted some IndieWeb links on HN a few weeks ago and some of what they say resonates with me, e.g. https://indiewebcamp.com/monoculture Unfortunately, some of their technology seems heavily focused on non-federated, non-FOSS walled gardens which I don't want to be part of (e.g. IndieAuth can use a Google account, a GitHub account, a Twitter account, etc. It claims to support email, but that seems to have died since Mozilla Persona shut down)
I am asking because to me, to decide to join some (not political) community based on your own political opinion, is a good way to live in your own bubble. The real strength of the Internet is that we are exposed to contrarian positions, even at the expense of our comfort.
Back when they only thing that described free software was the GNU manifesto, we still had the idea that writing software that enabled businesses was a good idea. It may be a consequence of free software that it will become difficult to charge money directly for software (as a product), but that shouldn't stop companies from making money.
Especially now when we see how open source software is almost taken for granted, we can see that companies flourish, not die. It is true that you practically can not charge money for a compiler any more, but are we worse off? No. We have different and arguably better business models for that kind of software -- and we haven't given up capitalism at all. My tools are dramatically better than they were 30 years ago (when I first started in this business). The cost has also dropped to nearly zero. We have become efficient.
It is true that the FSF considers software freedom a moral imperative. While it may be true that some kinds of software will be difficult to produce in this manner, we can see that there are several very large companies that thrive producing virtually every kind of software. Personally, I don't think there are many businesses that will be better off with our old software-as-a-product business models -- games being a probable exception. What we have now is better, more efficient, enabling for the general population -- and much better for businesses. I have a hard time seeing it from an "anti-capitalist" position. And, just from my personal perspective, I don't think RMS ever did either.
And only idiots think that free markets don't have externalities, so RMS noting that there are environmental or social issues free markets fail to address is itself completely unremarkable. Anyone who denies those facts should be completely disregarded. Even the most staunch free market advocates who have any understanding of reality accept that externalities exist.
The payoff comes at the very end, "Do your own computing with your own copy of a free program, for your freedom's sake."
Nah, I'll pay someone to do compute (and maintain the API, infrastructure, etc.) for me. I'm a huge free software advocate, but in the SaaS situation, I'm not paying for a program, I'm paying for results.
As such, it's immaterial how I get those results--they could have a roomful of people arranging bits by hand. (What if that's how they were doing it? Would that represent a loss of freedom, if I were paying people to shuffle bits by hand?)
This particular essay seems like the RMS take on that old saw, "if all you have is a hammer..."
If the match is only partial, your choice is between lobbying for tool change from your vendor, or conforming your business to match the tool.
The FSF position is anti-capitalist in at least one technical sense -- in the domain of software, it morally opposes capitalist model of property rights (and, in practice, uses a hack around the mechanism by which that model is implemented to subvert it.)
The FSF is pro-copyright and pro-trademark. You can literally own software. In fact, one of the things the GPL makes very clear is that once you have given/sold someone the software, you can't suddenly revoke their rights to use it in any way they see fit. In fact the FSF is very outspoken about the dangers of using services which remove that right (for example ebooks where the seller can suddenly revoke your right to read the book).
When you receive software under the GPL, you own that copy. It is literally yours. You can modify it. You can study it. You can give it or sell it (for any amount of money) to someone else. Not only that, but you do not own the copyrights. The copyrights are owned by someone else and are not transferred with the software. So this means that you can not change the license, even with a derived work.
They like it that way. They do not want to change the ability to own software or own copyrights. The GPL does not subvert the notion of software as property -- it enforces the normal rights you would have if it were physical property.
I think pro-capitalist (mostly libertarian) thought on this matter is divided.
The problem is, you can mount the very same argument even in the case of normal property rights. At the beginnings of capitalism, the scarcity was in fact enforced by means of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enclosure.
IMHO, most libertarians are used to idea normal property and take it for "natural", but not so in the "intellectual" world of ideas. It is partly because they benefit from intellectual world not yet completely owned by rich people. But I think people outside computing (unless they are distinctly leftist) are unfortunately lot more content with the idea of "intellectual property".
In my view, there is always a balance between "property rights" and other needs of society - availability of resources to the needy and the general public, innovation and growth.
The problem with IP is that there isn't any limit to it. A driver license is not more or less a property than a patent, but it acts wastingly different. Can I sell a driver license? can I rent it? Can I cut it into two different part and give a friend half of it? What makes the exclusivity of state granted driver license a non-property, in contrast to the state granted exclusivity of an patent?
I don't see why anyone should "own" natural resources, or beaches for instance. I understand that we all need a place to live and we want to own our personal possessions, but it doesn't seem to me at all natural to extend this to mines, factories or huge tracts of lands on the other side of the planet, that you perhaps even never see. Maybe the scarcity of natural resources isn't such a big deal unless you have people who simply own to much of it.
In the same vein, I agree that authors and inventors should be compensated for the efforts, but the copyrights and patents shouldn't create more scarcity.
Does it? Or does it take a much more hardline stance in favor of property rights, by saying you should control what is running on your property?
Unfortunately I can't give you a verifiable source, but the whole talk will be available at http://video.fosdem.org/2016/ud2218a/ at some point.
As F Scott Fitzegerald said:
A test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
Using the Internet just to confirm your existing beliefs sounds a bit too much like tribalism...isn't there something better to aspire to?
The only political opinion you should share about Free Software, is whether the software honors the four freedoms. The rest (open source software, FOSS, etc), are corporate add-on sales attempts.
You are mixing up anarchism with anti-capitalism.
I understand anti-capitalism as a criticism of the current economic system (or at least aspects of it), so it's independent to anarchism, just like it is, say, independent to Christianity.
> I understand anti-capitalism as a criticism of the current economic system (or at least aspects of it), so it's independent to anarchism, just like it is, say, independent to Christianity.
That's exactly my point (that it's independent). In case of Stallman, he isn't anti-capitalist per se, but he is definitely an anarchist.
Teaching the people to run their own services sounds pretty similar to what happened during the enlightenment, when people were taught to read at a large scale for the first time.
I may be in the minority: I agree with almost everything that Richard says.
Self identification is his personal choice. I'm talking about his ideas however.
Some of it. There are various views on this subject as well as different variants of anarchistic approaches.
> RMS is neither an anarchist nor strictly anti-capitalist
Giving a single label is probably pointless. He definitely has anarchistic ideas.
In my debian package for the qvitter plugin that message already gets replaced, but I can also submit a patch upstream.
When faced with a big list of servers to choose between, my hesitation is that I'll pick one now and realize later that another one is better. For example, I may someday want to host GNU social myself, but if I do so will I essentially be starting over (even if I can retain my data, will my connections still retain a relationship to the new server?).
A nice little diagram and/or technical details page would be much appreciated :)
It's great that my data can be free, but if my account is tied to a specific host and I must make a separate, unique account with another host later then I'm still substantially locked in. Essentially, switching accounts likely means all my social connections will have out-of-date contact info, urls, etc. when I switch.
If, however, my user ID is global across the distributed network and there is a way to gracefully transfer my account/data/info to another server seamlessly (without my social connections even knowing/caring about it) then I think distributed social networks like GNU Social could be a game changer.
Diaspora is already interoperable with Red Matrix. For better interoperaibility they need to finalize the API.
(And if you're not interested in maintaining presence on Twitter as well, that's great, I'm happy for you, but please don't reply just to say that. It's not interesting or contributing to the discussion in the least).
I don't know where we are with multi-protocol clients. Back then I was using https://launchpad.net/gwibber (before it was rewritten to use CouchDB and stopped working for me, I don't know what is its current status).
I didn't post like that, I had two accounts and used both; until I got bored of bots on identi.ca and, in practice, I was only using Twitter.
EDIT: changed Gwibber link to launchpad as the .com doesn't seem to be maintained.
I like the service and I am considering running my own server. My account is https://loadaverage.org/markwatson and I am going to start out by cross posting some of the things I post on Twitter and G+ and see where this goes.
When I quit consulting at Google in 2013 the first thing I did when I got home was to write an article on how to use Twitter, G+, and Facebook while preserving some degree of privacy. If alternatives like GNU Social catch on (a big IF), that will be a good thing!
Have you modified your approach since then?
EDIT, another list: http://federation.skilledtests.com/select_your_server.html
LAST EDIT, near complete list: http://www.skilledtests.com/wiki/List_of_Independent_Statusn...
In particular it's the qvitter plugin which makes this system really usable, both on desktop and mobile.
For people from a country which touts itself as "land of the free", this has to be a bit of a bitter bullet to bite ;)
Most serious stuff I write in Scheme, and when I got parsack (parsec for Racket) I now no longer have any reason to leave.
I rewrote most of my old linux projects (for home use, most of them) in Scheme48 just because I like scsh so much.
I support the project wholeheartedly but I can't help but despair at the amount of NIH syndrome and archaic patterns I'm seeing. Unsurprising given how old some of the code seems but be, but still... code like this doesn't inspire confidence in the long-term stability of the project.
Do they want people to join this or not?
Though I do believe Google has gotten rid of their Openid implementation entirely in favor of Openid Connect.
I'm sure there are ways around it. The point I was trying to make is that I thought that there would be more effort put into a frictionless signup.
To be fair, I haven't checked out the other sites linked from the gnu page, so I don't know if they have a better experience.
"Attackers might be trying to steal your information from micro.vinilox.eu (for example, passwords, messages, or credit cards). NET::ERR_CERT_AUTHORITY_INVALID"
Say it ain't so!
Oh boy, strcmp() for passwords.
I read about the project just to answer your question, which you could have answered for yourself by reading.
You can run your own instance. The source is open, which means it is publicly auditable, you can contribute to it, you can fork it. It is federated. There is not one single global point of failure, which has other implications regarding things like censorship. You are not beholden to a proprietary, profit-motivated service which can do whatever it wants with your data or with the service. It is an attempt to move away from walled gardens.
If you distrust US-based services, you can use an instance which is based in Europe or wherever.
If you don't get it, you don't get it.
In other words it doesn't just ignore abuse and harrassment one of the biggest problems - maybe the biggest problem - twitter has a communications platform, it practically encourages it.
Like, suppose a network was designed with those as its primary 2 goals. I don't think that would be totally unachievable.
DewDrop (I might have gotten the name mixed up with another thing by neyer) and related things seem not inconsistent with decentralized things, and they seem like they could be used for combating harassment. (e.g. by setting a minimum relative reputation for people sending one things in order to see the things, people who were more likely to be targeted could set a higher minimum, while people who no one knew could set a minimum of 0, or even something slightly negative. Someone who wanted to see everything sent to them could set it to the minimum allowed number.) (the relative reputation is constructed based on the individual, and does not rely on an authority thing to work).
It's a stupid feature people who don't care about this topic implement to be able to pretend they've done something.
Blocking only works if the cost of creating new accounts is high enough to turn off harrassers. That's almost never the case unless you're running an MMORPG or something.
(1) do they scale to the size of, say, Twitter (~400M Daily Active Users, Facebook ~1B DAU)?
(2) what would be their business model?
The thing is.. hypothetically GNUSocial is very nice. It's free software, it's an open protocol, you are supposedly in perfect control of your personal data. In theory, there's no reason not to prefer it to the current state of things (if only you could make it appealing to your grandma or 14 years-old cousin).
However, when, for instance, the Justin Biebers, the Lady Gagas, the Obamas join it together with their hundreds of millions of followers, or simply when the tweets per minute reach hundreds of thousand or even millions, can the GNUSocial protocol ensure a reliable and responsive (~ real time) service? And if it does, what's the maintenance and hardware cost for the confederations? And how are they supposed to financially cover for it?
Sure, there are services based on open protocols that have been extremely successful at scaling (e.g., email, or bittorrent), still, they have different requirements than a social network. Can we make an open social network of independent confederations scale? Probably yes, but whether GNUSocial is ready for it or not is an open question (as far as I know..).
In any case, take the example of the email. The protocol is open, there's a "confederation" of independent providers taking part to it. It handles a massive amount of data every day. You don't even have necessarily to store your data on a cloud server. That's great.
Still, at the end of the day everyone uses free mail services (GMail, Yahoo, you name it), heavily maintained by hundreds/thousands of dedicated (and skilled, and expensive) engineers, storing gigabytes of your data (backed up and redundantly replicated over different geographical areas), and financing themselves using targeted advertising. Sure, you can pay your own, trusted, mail provider an annual fee and have (apparently?) complete control over your data. But how many people actually use these services outside of the work environment (where your employer actually covers the cost)? And I'm not talking about the community of hackernews readers. I'm talking about your non-techy friends, your relatives, the random guy/gal you meet at the pub, that is, the people that ultimately are necessary for your service to reach a critical mass.
For no particular reason I can determine, we've temporarily merged the cultural / social automation technology for personal friendships with fanboy relationships with social status signalling. Future systems are unlikely to be identical clones of past systems.
This seems usable for personal relationships. Quite possibly automation for fanboy relationships might be a totally different service and technology. Maybe in the future people won't do geolocated at all. Or maybe status signalling will go out of style in the larger culture.
Sometimes coincidences don't matter.
The rest of your argument is the eternal wheel of IT which never stops rotating between centralization and distribution. Much as we had mainframes in the past and have centralized social media today, the wheel will rotate thru yet another decentralized phase soon enough. It never stops rolling.
It could be twitter for XYZ institute or university, or for a MMC internal network ? Or I am missing the point?
Same thing, really.
I could go and make a webmail account called email@example.com and people shouldn't assume it was you.
I believe that rather than saying your issue is not solved, the issue has been replaced with a new one: how would does GNU social's network of trust work? When a spammer starts or occupies a GNU social, what is required to prevent my host GNU social from suffering? How would a new user from a centralized social network know which GNU social is the right one to start with?
I have not read enough about how GNU social works and hope to find out how/if this issue can be resolved.
You don't get to be st3v3r everywhere, you get to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have that domain.
I am not pro Twitter, I am just saying that from the computer science point of view you can't find a distributed solution to one of the problems Twitter is trying to solve.
For what i will call "broadcast" events - such as your very valid tsunami, earthquake examples - sure it would be essential for those alerts to get out...But whether you're using a centralized or a decentralized approach shouldn't matter - assuming of course that one of the nodes of the decentralized method gets the needed input about the alert - in order to pass it on to the other peers of the decent. network. Much like email and websites, and to some degree mobile phone carriers, having a decentralized network does not necessarily prevent fast distribution of important/up-to-the-minute/broadcast information such as alerts. In fact, one might argue that having a decentralized approach might help with overall resilience. That being said, as much as i am a proponent of decentralized (and open) social networks, they have many non-trivial obstacles to contend with...but i do hope for one day to not have to exclusively depend on closed and centralized platforms like twitter et al.
Call it Eternal September, the unwashed masses, the quality of online communities dropping as they grow, call it whatever, I'm ready for a reboot, desperate even.
You are probably right — there'll be a chicken and egg problem even with hardcore nerdy gnu fans, but if new networks are created that attract nerdy passionate people, they will already be an interesting place, and if they ever happen to go mainstream then we will have at least taken our online "town squares" and public spaces back from private ownership.
An exciting new world where people aren't forced to use their real name (and prove it with government ID), where people can post their photos even if they contain nipples, where you might even have control over who can access your data.
I'm ready to jump ship, just looking for the boat to jump to.
I plan on posting a lot to GNU Social and see what the experience is ike after a month or two.
Sure it doesn't replace existing communities or networks. But it's creating new ones right now.
You just have to believe in it!
(my mother has a reddit account, gods help me)
Places like Facebook are full of random people, generally who you know but for a brand-new social network would be just a bunch of unknown randoms. I'm sorry, I have no interest in trying to strike up a conversation with some random person who could be anywhere on the planet. There needs to be some kind of commonality, some reason to interact. On Reddit I can go to a subreddit centered on a certain esoteric topic and chat with people about that. On OKCupid I can try to chat up women who live near me and have interesting profiles and go out on dates with them. On GNU Social, what am I going to do there? I have no idea.
That is the commonality right now on ostatus, and new communities can join it any time and form new centers of commonality.
The reality is, alternatives can arise. Facebook won't last forever, and Twitter even less so (although one of my favorite attempted "Myspace killers" was a social network for karaoke singers)
When has an open, decentralized product or service ever supplanted a centralized, closed, proprietary one? Never, that I can think of. Linux never replaced Windows, not for the vast majority of users. It did become very popular for servers, but really it took over from proprietary UNIX there, and really created its own market because back in the early 90s there was no such thing as a webserver; the whole use-case is different with Linux on servers. So UNIX was never really entrenched in exactly the things that Linux servers are used for now. Then there's smartphones and embedded devices like that, but there again Linux really created its own market; before Linux, small devices generally didn't have enough power to run a heavyweight OS like Linux. Android (semi-open, uses Linux) came about pretty much simultaneously with the iPhone. So here again, there wasn't some single proprietary thing that was dominant and entrenched in a mature market. There's the Apache webserver, but here again, there was no big dominant proprietary player. LibreOffice hasn't had much success in supplanting MS Office. MySQL is very popular, but here again there was no dominant proprietary web database; MySQL created that market (though PostgreSQL has become a serious competitor to it, but it's also open).
So in summary, the only time I've seen open, non-proprietary solutions win out is when the environment changed, frequently because of their presence and availability, making them the natural pick. I've never seen them beat out an entrenched dominant player in a mature market. So I definitely don't expect to see it happen with Facebook. What I could see happening is something coming up which uses a non-proprietary or decentralized system which creates a whole new market, rendering one of those things obsolete. I have no idea what that could be though, but then again 20 years ago I wouldn't have imagined that people would want to spend massive amounts of time on a "social network" sharing inane pictures and videos and making idiotic comments to each other about them.
Some of your examples are flat out wrong: Oracle was the big dominant proprietary player when Yahoo decided to risk going with MySQL (which was great, and I can't wait for MySQL to get replaced by Postgres).
Now think how many websites are running on WordPress. It pains me to say it (because the code quality is so bad), but that's an example of successful open source project. Git is up there too. Don't like Github? Switch to Sourceforge. Don't like Sourceforge? Run your own server.
So if you define the category narrowly enough, anyone can say, "no open source project with these exact characteristics has ever had success," and be right. But because it's been limited so heavily, the example from the past will have no predictive power for the future. You need to find a different way of analyzing the problem.
Wrong, I explain why in each case, they've completely changed the market, they didn't just come in and take over from a successful and dominant proprietary player.
>Oracle was the big dominant proprietary player when Yahoo decided to risk going with MySQL
No, they weren't. Oracle was never big in web databases. Ever heard of the LAMP stack? There was never a "LAOP" stack. Oracle was never used as part of a stack with Linux and Apache and Perl or PHP. Oracle was used in a bunch of big-iron systems back then (and still are), but they were never a serious player in small webservers. MySQL helped create that market.
This is something like claiming that Harley-Davidson took over part of the market owned by the Ford Model T truck.
>Now think how many websites are running on WordPress. It pains me to say it (because the code quality is so bad), but that's an example of successful open source project.
Which proprietary product did it out-compete? That's right, none. WordPress created a whole new market. It's just like all my other successful FOSS examples. It never successfully out-competed a dominant proprietary product.
>Git is up there too.
git is probably about the only FOSS product, now that you mention it, that's made any real inroads against proprietary products, and even here, not that much. It's used all over the place for FOSS development of course, but there was never a dominant proprietary product used for source control for FOSS development. BitKeeper was the closest to it, and that was only used for a single project AFAIK (the kernel), and using a special gratis license. FOSS development has always been done with FOSS VCSes: CVS, SVN, Mercurial, etc. Now, git has made some inroads against ClearCase and Perforce in corporate software development (as have all the other ones: SVN, CVS, Hg, etc.), but usually only for new projects. ClearCase has been very hard to dislodge in the companies where it's been standardized on (even though it's an absolutely abysmal version-control system that only succeeds in hindering progress).
>So if you define the category narrowly enough
I've already stated my requirement. Show me a good example of a FOSS product completely taking over for a highly successful and dominant proprietary one, instead of just creating a new market or expanding the market (while not displacing the proprietary product at all). I don't think you'll be able to come up with a single one.
The free software community must be truly happy to have such amazing supporters on their side.
You can copy a product without violating copyright, although there have been several court cases on this topic.
They've gone far beyond that here though, copying not just the product but significant parts of the design. The Quitter thing looks almost exactly like Twitter. If they'd copied the website of a bank like this, it would be considered phishing.
This is well beyond copying an idea or a few design concepts.
EDIT: OK, I take that back... After looking at some of these sites, some have really copied the design waaaay to much.
There are more servers than just these, and most of them have unique UIs.