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Facebook's statement: "Trust us. We'll show you ads."

App.net's statement: "Trust us. We'll charge you so you don't have to see ads."

Ello's statement: "Trust us, we won't show you ads."

The statement we deserve is akin to email's promise: you don't have to trust us; competing providers keep the ecosystem honest. (And the service is federated so you can connect with friends on other services)

Ello strikes me as another silo'd service. What happened to the dream of building "big" services that outlast a single company or team? The 30 year lifespan of SMTP+email, the 20 year life of HTTP, the 10 year life of XMPP.

Today we have users voting with their feet: eg I use Twitter/I stopped using Twitter after they pissed off the developer community.

Wouldn't it be great if we built services where the decision isn't use/don't use, more, my identity follows me to the best service provider (heh, like email!)?

The real statement should be: "you don't have to trust us, this is a protocol: - developers can write services against it, users can choose the developers service they like the best. And when that service goes pop, or the developer moves onto a new project, you are not stranded - just switch providers.

(disclaimer: this stuff makes me angry and we're trying to solve it at Buddycloud Towers)




Today we have users voting with their feet: eg I use Twitter/I stopped using Twitter after they pissed off the developer community.

The fraction of users who actually do this is so tiny that they don't make a dent in Twitter's userbase. The vast majority of users don't care about "trust", or "privacy", or ads, or federation, or API limits, or the ability to leave the provider if it turns evil. They care about where their friends are. That's literally the only feature that draws users in the numbers that make a social network last. I wouldn't expect Ello to be able to convince enough people to join and stay without massive, enthusiastic, engaged adoption -- and what engagement it has is coming from the bandwagon effect, not its promise of no ads.

By the way, remember Diaspora[0]? It's an open-source, federated social network that anyone can host, that requires no trust in any individual provider, and with no ads. It still exists, after attracting quite a lot of attention and Kickstarter funding a few years ago. And it dropped almost entirely off the radar, because its selling points have nothing to do with people's friends actually being there.

[0] https://joindiaspora.com/


I feel like they should rename the Millennials the "Give Up Generation". You guys just take defeatism to 11 every time any tries to say something hopeful for people to start doing what's better for the world. Good grief. Let the poor guy dream for a minute.


Millenials are actually much more optimistic and prone to idealism (as represented by volunteerism rates) than other generations: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/10/millennials-con...


Could you explain how idealism and volunteering are mutually inclusive?

I would definitely agree that Millenials are optimistic. About themselves personally. Defeatist about everyone else. That was what I was talking about in the above comment and maybe I should have clarified that more carefully.


We can probably go back and forth for hours on whether I'm being "defeatist" or "realistic". :)

I would love to see positive change in this area, but we need to be aware of what's really important to our intended audience if we're going to try. I could storm off of Facebook and leave a post behind to follow me to my self-hosted Diaspora pod, but I know no one's going to do it, so why bother? My friendships are worth more than my irritation at Facebook-the-company, and I can promise you that the vast majority of users will come to that exact same conclusion. Let's be honest with ourselves about that, before we try to fix this problem. Otherwise we'll only get as far as Diaspora did.


"So why bother?"

I'll give you an example. 15 years ago most people thought being Vegan was borderline insane outside a couple cities and college towns. There were little if any Vegan options at restaurants and if you asked they often gave a puzzled look. It looked hopeless. I can't tell you how many times I've been yelled at and made fun of. But we didn't do it because we knew it would be successful. We didn't do it to be cool. We did it because we felt it was the right thing to do. We had feelings, and we followed those feelings. We believed in something bigger than ourselves. Fast forward to today. Things look a lot different. Just think about the amount of carbon emissions that did not happen in the last 15 years for that crazy ideal? No one makes the world a better place because they know it will be successful. Or even if any of it is going to work. They do it because the care.

Pragmatism can be a dangerous thing when used as an excuse not to try.


Without remarking on the relative rightness of the moral stands in question, the difference between being vegan and switching to a new social network is that the latter affects people beyond the person making the moral stand. It's perfectly possible to switch by oneself to a free-as-in-freedom social network, but what's the point if no one else does?

And in any case, I'm not saying we shouldn't try. I'm saying we should be respectful of what our audience actually wants as we do. The uphill battle is the social aspect of convincing users that the change is worthwhile, not the technical aspect of building it (which is easy).


You are hitting so many stereotypes on the "kids these days" wagon you might as well be shaking your cane. You're whining, plain and simple.

I might as well complete the circle; "Shut up, gramps, you don't understand me!" Now the conversation is truly tiresome.


That's pretty unfair. Should we label you the WW1 Trench Warfare Generation? Because rushing towards the machine guns might work this time. Heroic, and exceedingly hopeful, but ultimately an utter fail.


Plenty of people do this. It's called blogging. WordPress, Ghost, and so on run on many providers. But social networks are winning the popularity contest.

Perhaps something running on Sandstorm will make it easy enough for people to run their own nodes.


You have a good point - the different blogging platforms do a good job. And create virtuous ecosystems around their code in the form of theme creators, hosting providers and consultants.

I think Kenton is onto a winner with Sandstorm - it stands half a chance to actually unify different blogging platforms. So while you may use a different blogging tool and comment - you have a unified email-like identity that follows you between tools, nodes and networks.


The downside is that if they have a comment section, each blogger has to do their own moderation.

Social networks have the funds to hire these people: http://www.wired.com/2014/10/content-moderation/

I'm doubtful about how long Sandstorm would be able to stay strictly hands-off. Sooner or later everyone who allows random strangers to interact has to get into policing the content and that's nobody's idea of fun.


Ya! Remember seeing this on here, not sure how well it's been going but I found it interesting. https://tent.io/


Isn't that what App.net is? A protocol?


My girlfriend described protocols to me as "it's like everyone agrees to speak the same language and then you can communicate". Which is a great way to describe it.

When you have to agree to API terms / "rules of the road" in Twitter's legalease / or revocable oauth tokens, things stop being a free language.


Yes, but without these rules, there would be people spamming everyone uncontrollably and wasting resources. Anything with this level of users needs these kinds of rules in place or he service eventually becomes useless.

The oath tokens are there because too many developers don't seem to understand good security practices when storing usernames and passwords


In the same way spam made email useless?


> the 10 year life of XMPP.

I really wish XMPP was more prominent than it is. It's an incredibly powerful protocol.


> What happened to the dream of building "big" services that outlast a single company or team?

Capitalism.


I don't think that creating systems != capitalism. Indeed companies that helped grow ecosystems (like Netscape) have been hugely successful.

I'm guessing this comes down to deciding to create money today to create a legacy later or to creating projects today that go onto become your legacy later. We each strive for what resonates with us and (hopefully) accept others that make different choices in life.


I'd say capitalism is partly responsible, but not completely - IT is not that competitive yet.

I agree with your conclusion; I think it's about deciding not capturing all the value you create, i.e. not being too greedy. Some companies do make this choice, and whole world benefits.


I'm not talking solely about IT. I'm talking about the global ecosystem of capitalism.

There also effects like people who don't dream big because what's more important is ensuring that they can pay the bills; capitalism is also responsible for this, and it has nothing to do with IT.

> I think it's about deciding not capturing all the value you create, i.e. not being too greedy. Some companies do make this choice, and whole world benefits.

The whole world benefits at a cost to the company itself, though. It's not surefire either way, but the company is more likely to survive if it is selfish than if it plays charitably.

Is your company's failure worth the potential benefit to the world? It's easy to say yes from an armchair. It's a lot harder to say yes when the market report is explaining how your competitors are taking advantage of the value you've created to shut you out of the market. Should you still say yes? Probably. Become a Netscape. Fight a losing war against Microsoft and get bought by AOL to become a brand name to fleece the ignorant.


I agree with you strongly. I grew to hate the ecosystem of capitalism for the very reasons you stated.

> The whole world benefits at a cost to the company itself, though. It's not surefire either way, but the company is more likely to survive if it is selfish than if it plays charitably.

Sometimes it's a matter of choosing a business model. There are companies (Basho comes to mind) that do serious open-source work and take money for consulting/support. But I'd hazard a guess such models are only possible because IT is not competitive enough. As competition in any field gets more intense everything tends to degenerate, as those unwilling to sacrifice some value in exchange for profit get outcompeted by those who do. Governments are there to offset some of those problems with regulations, but this has a whole other set of issues.




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