Who’s Working on Distributed Social?


Some college kids out of NYU who rallied a movement for a more privacy-aware, federated social web to the tune of more than $200,000 in Kickstarter funding. Code drop is expected on September 15.


One Social Web

Was doing Open Social until the project was scuttled by Vodafone in July.

Appleseed Social Network

I’ve just heard of this one but from what I gather it is a Mozillia drumbeat project started by contributor Michael Chisari. Sounds promising, but I don’t know how much work is being done on it now.

Does anyone else out there know of any other projects moving us toward the social web we need?

The Social Web We Need

Here is a diagram of the social web we need. Starting with a blog (or something similar) as the center of our universe.

There is a coming battle in social (I know some of you are tired of the war analogies) a it is centered around federation. Leo Laporte blog rant was right on many fronts. Social media in the micro-blogging space can be ephemeral if not often times specious. The web and the connections you have establish with it is the next web. “me” should be the center of this.  “me” as an entity in a mesh ER model map that is the science of modern social graphs. Your interactions should be a stream of record to be parsed for you by those very interactions in the graph. The social web we need is a n-dimensional space of your data, your dataspace. This should not be trapped in the silos of Facebook, Buzz, etc. These networks that are the defacto home of your interactions with the web should flow to you, not to them. This concept of dataspaces is something I have studied for nearly 2 years when I first read a paper on the concept. We have loosely couple pieces of ourselves everywhere around the web. Most of us have been doing social, web apps and services for years. Where is that stuff?  Sites/destinations go away and often times with it your data. I am using a very broad definition of “data” .  Any comment you’ve created or metadata expressing your approval for something can be defined as data.  We must claim this and I believe blogs are one the keys.

The technologies depicted in the very rough illustration are part of a growing movement for a more federated social web. This new federated web will rely on Open Social for interconnections as well as Activity Streams to capture and distribute activities like photo sharing, comments, blog post, location information, video, audio and sharing approval with our social graph based on social network aggregation information.  Protocols such as PubSubHubbub or XMPP would speed syndication to those in your open social graph. Salmon protocol is needed to capture/collect comments on activities on your blog or profile page that are scattered by the syndication mechanisms of  XMPP, ATOM and PubSubHubbub. It should not matter what platform you use, Tumblr, WordPress, Posterous and Blogger it all flows to you from everywhere your content syndicates to.  And it doesn’t have to be confined to the social forms of communications and could include emails, chat sessions and SMS. These places or dataspaces could be more lively with the power of the  wave protocol that powered the now defunct Google Wave.

Now these are not new concepts. Diaspora received $200,000 big ones to attempt this and with a code drop slated for 15 Sept. I am curious and hopefully to see what the community does with this. What would be new is a seamless aggregation of these Web 2.0 building blocks to make this possible. I propose a more Blog centric approach to this that would call on the major blogging platforms that host or allow self-hosting to encourage and contribute to this endeavor.  But this doesn’t need to be confined to the Blogging platforms that exist. There are many broadcast avenues that could start implementation, Twitter comes to mind as the most minimalist player that could start experimenting  Activity Streams with XMPP syndication and Salomon protocol for track-back capability on comments (tweets).  However, these are ultimately just the tools of the trade (so to speak) that will complement that dataspace concept not silo it.  Looking at the current state of Social the problem is clear (at least to me), there is too much fragmentation of “you” across services and no universal dashboard to control your identity, your ‘data’ and most importantly your privacy. Our identity needs a place that can be the space of record for us and we, through virtue of authentication, allow other players into our space to advertise and sell to us.  In payment for this privilege we are offered services while our contributions (our data)  is offered as another form of currency for the service. Our data becomes on par to our money. Data is or will soon be currency. Heady stuff but I basis for how we should look at social networks going forward.

Well that was my one part proposal, one part brainstorm. What do ya think.

Burned By Social Media…Long Live the Blog

Earlier this month a wrote a post mortem on Google Wave as its demised gave me food for thought on all things social. As I most eloquently (I think) opined:

With Wave now riding off into the sunset I have begun to re-evaluate what I’ve been contributing to these products. I sometimes put so much time and effort into these technologies I forget what they are used for. How much original thought and content have you given Twitter, Buzz, Facebook, Wave, etc?”

Just as I thought those words disappeared into the echo chamber that is the “Social” web along comes a late night blog post from one of my favorite tech luminaries @Leo Laporte.  He noticed that none of his Google Buzz posts over a 2 week period were being posted as public nor were they showing up in his Buzz stream. He just thought of it as a glitch, but also noticed that no one else seem to either. This was much to his dismay. This episode caused some reflection on his part, much as Google canning Wave made me think about where my true attention should be focused, our personal blogs.  I think DeWitt Clinton’s post puts this new epiphany in prespective stating that:

“Ultimately we need to lower the cost, and raise the utility, of user-centric creation and presentation of content, rather than the network-centric creation and presentation of content we have today.³ In an ideal world, you’d be able to use whatever tools you want, to produce whatever content you want, to publish in any place you want, to whatever audience you want.”

This is what I have professed with numerous blog posts of my own  about the future of blogging platforms (part 1 & 2) and the Social Profile Wall of the Future. We need social media federation for blogs that is as seamless and less of a barrier to entry as Twitter and Facebook are today. Thank god for Posterous and Tumblr, they get it.  We should continue to encourage and support the DeWitt Clinton’s and Diaspora’s of the world to make blogging (macro or micro) in general as easy as a Facebook.  Hence liberating our data from the silos it exists in today.  This might be a space where Google Me could exploit the current disillusionment with a growing social network fatigue.  I mean seriously, where is this stuff going? Am I contributing in vain? Who listens to me?  These are my questions, but I believe Leo has touched on something that has the blogosphere a buzz again.

Random Thought of the Day: Net Neutered

I’ve had a couple of days to digest the Google-Verizon “proposal” and now that I have calmed down a bit, I’m  started to put this whole thing in the its proper perspective and context. First, it’s just a proposal and carry no weight of law or legislation. Sure, a future congress or FCC could use it as a starting point for future legislation, but this issue (if ever taken up by the congress) will become much more diluted, convoluted and contentious before this ever becomes policy.  Those of you who think that Google just sold-out the entire internet your only half right. After many years of lobbying, battles, protests and court cases the ISP’s have essentially relented on control of their wireline assets. That argument has been won. In the end the data caps will rise and eventually disappear along with its iron grip on the internet backbone.  All-in-all the backbone of the internet will remain relatively traffic agnostic going forward – at least in principle. Wireless on the other hand is different. The Telcos had little standing in controlling the content flowing over networks seeing as that very network was partially government funded.  But to my limited knowledge the wireless networks were build mainly with private funding by dozens of carrier (most of which now comprise of the big 4) . They raised the capital to purchase (no lease) spectrum from the government and build out advanced wireless networks using that spectrum.  They have the right to do with those networks as they see fit. Sucks I know, but think about it on a more pico-scale. You build a $500 dollar Wi-Fi network for your house to extend your backbone. You manage traffic on it so that your XBox gets priority to stream Netflix over your iPad surfing the web. You enable encryption and MAC address filtering for only the devices in your house. You have that right. Why? You invested in the network infrastructure from the ingress point where the ISP delivers the bits, to the Wi-Fi access points, wireless extenders and antennas you installed.  Even if you you don’t lock down your network and allow anyone to access it in your neighborhood, if you were to find that your generosity was being abused you have the right (and duty) to regulate or eliminate that traffic. I know I am comparing apples and oranges, but the extrapolated premise still stands.  So you probably won’t like hearing this, but part of being an adult is living in the real world. AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, MetroPCS, etc have every right to do with their respective networks what they DAMN WELL PLEASE.  Is this consumer friendly? HELL NO!! It’s just the reality of the landscape today. It won’t always be like this, but for now it is.  Give the carriers time to build out their networks and make their money. I predict that this may be a non-issue soon anyway. Soon most of the customers on wireless network won’t be people with smart devices, but simple devices such as gas or electric meters and other type sensors(an Internet of Things). These networks are expensive to deploy and even more expensive to maintain. Let’s marvel at the now and not the post-apocalyptic, non-net neutral future that every tech pundits is prognosticating. For Christ sakes, we’re driving down the freeways at 85 MPH listening to streaming internet radio while getting email and real-time traffic updates. How cool is that?  Let’s keep the anti-BIG business rhetoric to minimum.  We’ve come a long way since the days of WAP and ATT.Net. We’re winning the argument for a more neutral internet ever so slowly.

Image copyright Grassmere Animal Hospital

5 Stories..5 Random Thoughts

Hurd Vs. HP

Forget all the innuendo about falsifying expense reports or upsetting the apple cart of an entrenched HP culture. How do I become a CEO of a billion dollar company who gets to bone a soft-core porn stars? I’m just saying….

Skype IPO

Are the 90’s fast times of over abundance and Pets.com back for tech IPO’s? Unlikely. This is an exciting opportunity to own a piece of a phone company of the future. WTF EBay!!

Marc Andreeseen, entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist, Ballar!

This dude started Netscape, went public. Then he sold to AOL, started LoudClould then sold that to EDS.  He now owns pieces of Facebook, Ning, Twitter and Skype through his Venture Capital firm. When Facebook, Twitter and Skype go public Mr. Andreeseen could stand to makes BILLIONS.

Google, Verizon and Net Neutrality

Better these guys than the FCC. Besides the technical reasons why absolute net neutrality is an a front to private property rights and freedom. Lets see how this plays out first before out right condemnation.  This is just a proposal. All the hardliner socialist types out there that are clammering for Government interference to keep the net ‘neutral’ remember this, last time the federal government gave us universal and liberal access they bestow monopoly on one company to do so.  That was AT&T. Enough said.

In More Google ME Speculation…

Google aqu-hired another piece to there games strategy by purchasing Jambool.  Who the F are Jambool?  They build something called Social Gold that allows other social-gaming sites to build there own virtual currency infrastructure. Sounds like the Federal Reserve to me. While I, and many others, are still licking our wounds after Google Wave, Google continues to mass an army of engineers and hires to go after Facebook, or at least create an alternative. This looks of desperation and is reminiscent of a Yahoo-like flailing (where last decade when they bought Flickr and Delicious and did nothing with them). Why all the buying? Can they even begin to cobble all this together into a cohesive social product?  I hate to say it, but Pete Cashmore is starting to look like a genius. BTW, does any one have any Google Me invites?

Nuff Said.