This right here kills it for me, and hopefully others too.
"Why is Openbook not a non-profit?
Making Openbook a for-profit was a hard choice to make.
We love Wikipedia, the Ghost Foundation, Founders Pledge, Mozilla and many more. However we see the same struggle repeated over and over again. These companies struggle to grow beyond their profitability. These companies struggle to grow to the size and resources needed to compete with for-profit businesses.
When we need to grow exponentially, we need to be able to raise the large amounts of money needed to do so. Therefore we are officially a for-profit company.
But do note that when we do this, we will make sure the people investing in the company will be people with real interest on the platform, its core values of privacy, security, freedom, openness and its humanitarian nature."
NO NO NO NO NO!!! Why do you have to exponentially grow to be useful. Be the right service, and growth comes by that virtue. People love Wikipedia for what it is, not because it "grows exponentially". You're just another guy with good motives until you succumb to investor pressure.
I've been hoping for a Mozilla/Wikimedia like foundation to come up with a modern centralized alternative to Facebook, that just has it in their bylaws that prevents any creepy tracking from being implemented in the first place.
As they say, "False pretence of security is worse than no security because it makes you let your guard down". Don't dilute the community driven foundations by profit driven projects like this, please.
I happen to think that Google, FB & such were founded with a solid ethic. I think Google meant "don't be evil" when they said it. But, the questions come later. Will you increase consumer privacy at the expense of CPCs (and value to advertisers). Will you de-fund some of your blue sky R&D to balance reduced yield on advertising.
Wikipedia is the right model. After all this time, they really are still focused on wikipedia's original goal. I am personally very happy that Wikipedia exists.
The way Wikipedia is supposed to scale, is not by making an amazon-scale wikipedia. It's by doing their job well, and being a prototype/inspiration for others to do other jobs. If Wikipedia was a social network, maybe it would not have "scaled" to also be the world's no. 1 news source. Maybe it would not have become a major IM app. That's not a bad thing. We didn't need Facebook to take over news. We could have gotten our news elsewhere. We didn't need facebook to do IM, same reason.
Wikipedia is not a failure because it didn't scale this way, it is a success for that reason. Being not for profit has let them pass on opportunities for land grabs, in a way that for profits would not have resisted.
Then you are likely unaware of FB history. Read the first hundred or so results of https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=dumb%20fucks
That's because Wikipedia is not a social network. A social network is only worthwhile if it gains a critical mass of users such that there are enough friends on it (or sometimes, i.e. Twitter, enough interesting people on it) to make spending time there worthwhile. Massive growth is more important to the survival of a social network than to any other business model.
You can have a place that's worth spending time in without needing "massive" growth.
When the Internet first started to become a cultural force it was still sort of a niche thing. Normal people were on it, but the scattered mess of blogs and online bulletin boards were all over the place. You didn't need to have EVERYONE on every board, you just needed the board for your website to have enough cool people on it to build a community. They rarely got much bigger than a few hundred active members.
You can't make decaf coffee by making regular coffee and taking the caffeine out. You have to prepare the coffee beans in a different way. If you want a social network that doesn't repeat the sins of the current social networks.
For Facebook I don't think their revenue model was their original sin, the revenue model became as invasive and problematic as it was because the company was built by a creepy dude who didn't actually value individual privacy or community very much. If you want a social network that's not dehumanizing and doesn't contribute to atomizing individuals you're going to need to focus on more intimate, community focused interactions.
Don't you think it'd be a better idea to use all that engineering prowess to build a fantastic product that people want to use, run it using a non-profit foundation, and make money for the non-profit foundation by doing exactly what they claim to be their plan now - offering enterprise customised solutions?
Saying that you need investor money to grow exponentially because that's the only way our crowd funded social network will work seems unreasonable/ethically unsustainable to me.
Growth is. Massive growth is only relevant if you want to compete on the largest, global scale.
This. Always chose “open” by design, never by charity.
Funny thing, the marketing seems very close to what we're used to coming from Facebook. Happy-go-lucky language, bright colors, the "be good" attitude and the founder in the center of the spectacle. This whole thing is just a bad joke.
This is probably a non-trivial thing to do correctly, but after reading The Dictators Handbook I think that the power structure contributes significantly to behavior and think a social network structured more similarly to the Green Bay Packers operate would create a better system than Facebook.
I don't know how well it works.
That said, Facebook at one time also had this problem and I think they solved it extremely well by making access feel like a privilege for you rather than patronage to them, by limiting it to exclusive universities. And then all universities. And then finally, to anybody. Google did the exact same thing with 'gmail beta' when invite codes were a sort of mechanism of making users feel like it was a privilege to get to use their software.
On the other hand, neither Facebook or Google was facing a competitor with billions of monthly active users approaching global market saturation.
The question is how much of a network effect do you really need? You can't start wanting to take over the world. It works a lot better to start small, with one niche group or community and work from there. This has been how rival social networks have taken off in the age of Facebook.
Discord targeted gamers, Snapchat targeted hipster teens, Signal targeted political activists, FireChat targeted the music festival scene, etc.
If it works well, the feature sets are generalizable, and your social groups are resistant to cooption into or bullying by neo-nazis and the alt-Right you can grow from there.
Let the early users generate badges that they can list on current social networks so that they can brings their friends in.
Incentivise quality content by directly adding up to one's storage/other limits. Example, if 1000 users like your post, then you get extra MB for your photos or some other benefit.
Let the influential/early users(who bring many of their contacts into the network) have first dibs at new features that makes them feel cool.
or any other marketing strategy that people write books about :-)
There is plenty of work being done on this area in online spaces - the platform cooperative movement. I wonder if it a major failure of this movement in terms of visibility that this wasn't their go to model.
So far I've only read comments that have a strong tendency towards the destructive or even pejorative end of the spectrum. I think that's unfair considering all the effort they are putting into this.
Having said that, I'd like to know what distinguishes this from e.g. Facebook in the long term. It's easy to put out a manifesto and pledge that you are never going to do bad things. It's also easy to come up with a vague theoretical business model that doesn't really say how it will work.
Let's assume they succeed with this – there is nothing that enforces these early statements anymore and soon investor pressure will lead to an outcome similar to the established success stories.
That's why I think you have to be much more different if you really aim to make a difference at scale.
Here's their take on the business model:
>Our business model is not and will never be advertisements.
>We will have a transparent revenue model based on a generic way for people to securely transact physical and digital goods and services inside the network. This will be done through an atomic digital unit of value. Although this initially reflected as a marketplace, our ambitions go way beyond that.
>Apart from this, we’re also planning to help enterprise customers setting up their own internal, self-hosted and secure social networks with extra functionality such as projects, identity and access management.
No, they don't.
Federation-wise, there's not a single word on federation. They talk about decentralization, not federation. To quote my other comment:
> Instead of "Will I be able to run my own instance?", think: Will I be able to follow an Openbook account from my Mastodon account?
As for the business model, I really need more than "atomic digital units of value" and "our ambitions go way beyond that". The last sentence does tell me something, but that something directly contradicts their stand on decentralization.
As for why they aren't a non-profit, they generalize pretty much every non-profit and say that they "don't grow exponentially" (without defining what they mean), and they mention names that do indeed grow year after year.
At the end, none of those three questions are answered for me.
Besides, their reasons for not running a decentralized service do apply for a federated service as well, and as far as I can see, they're using the terms synonymously anyway.
Whether those are good enough arguments, that's another debate.
>At the end, none of those three questions are answered for me.
Well, it's still their answer, and that's what my post was about.
This seems to go to far. Give the users control over their data in your system AND give them control over how their data is sent to other systems.
Edit: In the linked issue, OpenBook CEO said that you can't delete mastodon accounts, but Mastodon got that feature a couple weeks after his post:
Depending on how you define "system", being unable to track and/or delete data federated out might put you in a hazardous position around GDPR. It's not just about users controlling their own data. It's also about system operators being able to enumerate who they shared data with, what safeguards and processes they follow, and so on.
The Enterprise play sounds like a Holy Grail project. A social network, project management, ActiveDirectory/LDAP all-in-one? As a side project to fund a social network?
To me it sounds like they want to do what most other social networks do, make businesses pay for their profiles and features.
The trading part I'm doubting as well. That's something quite difficult to set up and scale. So it doesn't bode well when they don't offer a proper explanation.
Especially if the admins lock themselves out of the kind of data you need for fraud prevention.
With regard to your point on the business model. I've criticized exactly this in my comment. I think they need to put more work into this.
If people are willing to donate without a better understanding of their plans then I'm disproven (for now) and it's their right to do so :)
Putting in effort into something does not insulate you from criticism.
Honestly, I have a completely different read on the content of the comments on this page. I think you are going out of your way to find "pejorative" and "destructive" comments. The majority appear to be pretty well thought out by my eyes. Most people seem to be questioning the efficacy of openbook's approach to the problem. It is obviously something people care a lot about and there are a lot of very legitimate issues with openbook's approach that have been discussed on this page.
I never said that.
I said that the comments I read up to the point in time when I wrote my comment looked not exactly constructive or helpful.
I agree that later some people made up their minds and contributed helpful criticism.
That does not invalidate my point though.
Maybe we wouldn't have to deal with things like FB anymore if qualified people would use their time to come up with a solution instead of pointing out what does NOT work all the time.
I really wish them to succeed since I'd like to see somebody breaking the facebook monopoly, yet I'm quite sure this won't end any different than disapora, mastadon, app.net and the several ones I can't even remember anymore.
There is this common mistake of seeing these platforms as a technical challenge but in reality, unless you have a novel approach that people crave for, it's a lot of non-technical hustle.
They say that they don't want to decentralize the service (as in, everyone can run their own instance), and I can understand their stand on that. However, they say nothing about federation with other similar attempts that are popping up.
Instead of "Will I be able to run my own instance?", think: Will I be able to follow an Openbook account from my Mastodon account?
It's something I've come to expect. If your hot new app doesn't federate, I don't care about it.
> "We will have a transparent revenue model based on a generic way for people to securely transact physical and digital goods and services inside the network. This will be done through an atomic digital unit of value. Although this initially reflected as a marketplace, our ambitions go way beyond that.
> Apart from this, we’re also planning to help enterprise customers setting up their own internal, self-hosted and secure social networks with extra functionality such as projects, identity and access management."
This should also be listed in the FAQ.
Photos/videos I can sort of understand, but 'chats' - they're done with other people, none of whom would have been granting permission for their content to be migrated to openbook. Am I being too literal here, or is this a privacy violation being promised on day one?
> OpenBook is OpenSource
Yeah awesome. Like many other projects. Having the OpenSource stamp is not really an advantage anymore. Building and maintaining a community around it, with strong support and integration is something way more difficult to do.
> On Openbook you will not only be able to personalise your profile, but the entire network itself! From changing the color of your homepage to adding plugins, you can make it as unique as yourself.
So basically I can customize everything. On my instance? Is it federated/decentralized (doesn't seems so)?
> We don’t track anything you do, neither monetize your information nor share it without your explicit and informed consent.
Hopefully the GDPR has already cover all those things :)
> All applications will be reviewed by us. We will make sure they: only request the needed information, have the exact location of your data available for you, at all times, delete all your information if you’d revoke the permission...
> Some examples of the technology we'll be researching and developing:
> Cryptographically enforced data sharing policies
> End to end encryption, even on the browser
> Public key cryptography on the browser
> Post-quantum cryptography algorithms and protocols
NIH syndrom, all those things are already covered by many other projects, why not reusing that? Also, "post-quantum" cryptography, looks like a nice buzzword thrown in there.
> Migrating to Openbook will be easy-peasy, with our simple drag-and-drop system. Just download your data from your old social network1 and transfer them to Openbook. Shazam!
Good luck with that. GDPR is indeed forcing social platforms to have a Data-Portability politic. Facebook is exporting the user content in HTML flat file with no proper identifiers or easy way to reconstruct the data structure.
> ...we’re also planning to help enterprise customers setting up their own internal, self-hosted and secure social networks with extra functionality such as projects, identity and access management.
So basically they are developing another centralized Social Network engine.
( https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8863 )
It's an interesting phenomenon that in the age of the internet there are easily accessible public records of how hard it is to tell what is going to be a big deal.
"If you give us money we'll invent great crypto" -> "We're secure"
Openbook is not only an evolutionary step for social networks, it's also a humanitarian project at world scale.
Makes me want to vomit. You're making a website, not feeding hungry children.
>In partnership with FoundersPledge, we'll be giving 30% of our revenue towards projects for education, sanitization, climate change prevention and more.
>Who's paying for everything so far?
> So far we have been completely self funded. However, this has proven to be very hard. With most of us working full-time jobs apart from Openbook, it could take us long time till we release the first version and even then, we would not be able to afford the IT infrastructure needed to compete with any of the established networks. As we wanted the project to be driven by people and not capital, we decided to go for crowd-funding. We'll be launching our Kickstarter campaign on the 17th of July.
They don't appear to have a revenue model. I'm not sure if they consider donations from kickstarter revenue, but so far its their only source. I don't think passing on 30% of donations to FoundersPledge is really changing the world
They are probably trying something similar to ghost blogging platform.
Whether they are successful or not is to be seen, but I am not enjoying how some people are unnecessarily shitting on their effort.
Their marketing is all the same wholesomeness and positive messaging. There's no "rebellious" streak to it at all.
But wholesomeness didn't help Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram grow. Facebook was the "adults only" social network that required a .edu address when it was challenging MySpace. Snapchat was pretty much a sexting app. Instagram is basically semi-nude models in its search feed.
I get what these people are trying to do, but you're not going to do that by being boring and corporate.
"If I delete the spam accounts, they come back. It’s an automated script."
Why not consider users who invited spammers as part of the problem and delete them too? The level of recursion would be the largest hurdle
The bio can be found by clicking peoples username.
From the bio you can also navigate to their comment history and also see what stories they have submitted.
They probably think that users like to have to hunt for the features of the site.
It's hard to take anyone seriously who uses that phrase... Especially in this sort of context.
That's been a joke for a long time now, everyone knows it's nonsense.
> Good for the planet
It all almost looks ironically done.
Also they have no idea how to finance and fund their growth:
We will have a transparent revenue model based on a generic way for people to securely transact physical and digital goods and services inside the network. This will be done through an atomic digital unit of value. Although this initially reflected as a marketplace, our ambitions go way beyond that.
Apart from this, we’re also planning to help enterprise customers setting up their own internal, self-hosted and secure social networks with extra functionality such as projects, identity and access management.
Not really. Facebook was hardly the first social network, but it was better (at certain things, like friends discovery) and worse at others (like publishing your own content).
Based on what premise?
> I wish companies would stop trying to be better copies of existing services.
Why? Almost all creativity and improvement goes by creating a better version of something that exists already.
How was Facebook radically different than other social media sites? In my opinion, it was almost exactly the same as the rest. They just leveraged some clever marketing.
In terms of features it was a static page with the only dynamic capability being the ability to poke someone.
The most important identity system in the world -- the one that even the biggest websites in the world want you to identify yourself with is definitely your email. The protocols underlying your email are my vision for social networking: A common format that accurately sends a message to feature-complete implementations. There's really not any reason we can't have your federated social media be your email replacement barring that the W3C standard doesn't call for any sort of secure mailbox (Mastodon doesn't have REAL "private messages") but it's still a damn good solution to the problem of trying to work in the social media space: you need users. What if the users are already there?
Perhaps as the APub standard and implementations grow we can see them become standardized to the sort of SSO that we are used to when we "connect with Facebook/Twitter" but another closed-loop timeline-based for-profit social media won't ever have my attention because there's not a market.
Unless it's Vine.
As a for-profit corporation’s legal operational boundaries end at the financial interests of its shareholders, any corporation-defined “core value” may not and does not benefit from legal guarantees.
While a benefit corporation  may allow to balance the interests of shareholders and stakeholders, any form equal to a UK company limited by guarantee with “limited” exemption  [Section 60, Section 62] binds, secures a corporation’s objects (or “core values”) to interest-free legal requirements.
For trust to ensue and persist, any “for-benefit” alternative to existing for-profit corporation- or nation state-controlled platforms must state its “core values” as the controlling corporation’s objects.
Most likely suspect is the typewriter animation, which ought to be done with https://github.com/tameemsafi/typewriterjs (but maybe it's just how they used it - or maybe something entirely different, I just had a quick look).
For once, I'd like to see a project use these words in a meaningful way. Build a manifesto that isn't just "we are building a platform." Focus on actual social interactions and social behaviors that the platform should have. Build something that actually encourages honesty, openness, and fun posts over lying, fake personalities, and cynicism.
Normal users don't see benefits in switching away from Facebook to an equivalent platform with more honest caretakers. That's the sad reality of it. But if a social network pledged to only allow posts that are positive about things, or actively banned people for spreading lies, that would be totally different. It's an execution thing -- people would need to see policy in action -- but if pulled off, it would result in a fundamentally different and easily comparable platform to Facebook.
The reasons I would like to see a project like this succeed would be to have a network that better protects privacy and has very transparent censorship. I'm not super well versed in open source and non-profit but my current thinking is that making an organization of similar style to wikipedia would be the best strategy. Open source the code, own the hardware and raise money through donations.
Do you think I'm missing something or would this be the best strategy? Also, is there already a project(s) like this?
Website looks like this for me:
I am using Google Chrome on Windows 10
It's an insanely hard market to chew into and thus I can say they've already lost.
Any argument, including being Open Source, is good to get early adopters. Communication can change later on.
Too many products try to appeal to the general public too soon. This is not how user acquisition works.
My 23 year old son and 18 year old daughter didn't know what open-source meant.
If you could build a social network around tech people we'd all be using Google Plus.
Also, the fact that a grandma doesn't know what Open Source means doesn't really concern me, but the fact that the children of someone who posts on HN and works at Google don't, does. Maybe that's part of the reason why proprietary, centralized services are winning.
Anyway, I do have concerns along the same line, not because "Open Source" is on the front page but because:
- The team is not diverse enough in terms of experience. The COO is an "information-security expert"; the CMO is a "security and international relations expert"; the Chief of Product is a "pragmatic software engineer" and "crypto-geek". This is a problem, even though not necessarily deadly.
- They plan to allocate 70 % of the budget to software engineering, and basically 0 % to marketing / user acquisition / community management. This is the biggest red flag for me.
Im not worried about the budget for marketing, they seem to have managed to get themselves into a few leading publications already and the early backers will provide initial beta users + word of mouth marketing.
What remains to be seen is if the team can execute, I guess only time will tell. Overall good initiative though.
Your average grandma does not know Kickstarter.
Btw they don’t seem to even own openbook.org ...
edit: found this
"We will have a transparent revenue model based on a generic way for people to securely transact physical and digital goods and services inside the network. This will be done through an atomic digital unit of value. Although this initially reflected as a marketplace, our ambitions go way beyond that.
Apart from this, we’re also planning to help enterprise customers setting up their own internal, self-hosted and secure social networks with extra functionality such as projects, identity and access management."
”Atomic digital unit of value?”
Who writes this stuff?
Hard to believe that Phil Zimmermann is on board. Assuming that's true...
I wonder what folks here think about ActivityPub. I been craving for a federated protocol since Google Wave. I'm yet to go through it in detail and see if it really stands.
I think I saw something about their revenue model on their website FAQ.
Is this the next Ello?
Who types in a url any more?
Security - Privacy - Customisability - Compatibility with status quo. We can all agree that we lost faith in the monstrosity that Facebook has become, it doesn't mean that we can't place faith in other technology to produce a different outcome.
I just donated to the campaign, I think they have a solid team, and their core values are spot on like u mentioned.