The Face of Social Media

Yes, this topic has been done to death in the past couple weeks, but I’m one of the numerous people signed up to quit Facebook at the end of the month, as proposed at http://www.quitfacebookday.com/. I have all the same reasons as other people; privacy and control. My main one is that I don’t like the centralized model that Facebook engenders. No one company is supposed to be in control of the Internet. It should also not be an oligarchy. Data should be distributed.

This is why I’m excited about the Diaspora project at http://joindiaspora.com/. What interests me most is not what this project intends to do, but their business model. Find a need, a niche on the web. Generate venture capital by asking people with that need to donate funds. Fill the niche. This is like applying the open source model to business. I’d like to see much more of it in the future. I hope the project is implemented intelligently; if it is, I’m looking forward to migrating to it when they make their first alpha release.

In the meantime, I’m looking for alternatives to Facebook. I primarily use Facebook for two purposes: publishing and consuming content. I don’t play the games, and I don’t use their (extremely bad) messaging framework.

The Facebook News Feed is extremely useful, getting an aggregate of all my friends’ activities in one place, be it status updates, blog posts, new links, or photos. But I can find ways to get this information myself. The thing that I lose out on is the ability to PUSH my data to my friends.

I signed up for Twitter. I really don’t like it, although I can’t put my finger on why. It is also a centralized service, and it has been down a lot. I think it could be used for my purposes; I can post links and status updates directly, and link to photos on Flickr or a similar service. But I don’t like it. Further, most of the people I interact with aren’t on the service, and I don’t want to encourage them to use it.

I’ve also considered RSS. I have a blog with an RSS feed already; I could develop a simple feed for a status update service as well. Then people could subscribe to the feeds and get whichever notifications they want. This is really the way the Web SHOULD have been done, but it seems that normal people don’t use RSS. It’s also very public; I can’t choose who to share what status updates with. Like most of the world, the majority of my updates are mindless drivel that only make sense to my friends and family. I don’t want them on an indexable feed.

I’m also considering Google Wave as a platform for this kind of communication. In theory, I could create a wave with a short status message and add whichever people I want to see that message to the wave. Or I could make the wave public. Either way I could embed it in my own website. The Wave protocol is actually well-suited for this kind of interaction, but the default interface Google provides is not.

The problem with all these and other options is that they require people interested in my thoughts to go through a certain initiation phase, registration for twitter, wave, or Google Reader, for example. Rather than do this, most people will say, “why not use Facebook?”

2 Comments

  1. Daenyth says:

    I’ve really been getting into buzz lately. It’s more open than facebook data-wise, but on the flip side they are very up front about what is shared, and the controls are simple and sensible.

  2. dtw says:

    Aggregate without Aggregating: flavors.me

    Totally un-technical way of using a bunch of different services to do specific things yet allowing people to access all of them in one place.