The killer application for distributed social networking?

How do we make things move along quicker in the area of distributed/federated technology? Things are moving very slowly although it seems most of the components are in place.

When I wrote the blog about Rebel mouse, I found some interesting links to some distributed solutions which could see the end of the likes of twitter and facebook.

OStatus is an open standard for distributed status updates. The goal is to have a specification that allows different messaging hubs to route status updates between users in near-real-time. This spec took over from the OpenMicroBlogging spec of old.

I remember writing about wordpress’s distributed solution a while ago.

The weird thing is I logged into Diaspora again today and not only is it a ghost town (not like G+, but really like a ghost town) but it got me thinking whats different about Diaspora and G+? Now the hype died down, its time to see some very cool uses of Diaspora. What have they got to loose? Dare I say it, wheres the killer application? Wheres the thing which will make people sit up and take note once again? Heck whys no one doing cool stuff with the API?

So what is the killer application which will tip people over? I have some thoughts but what ever it is, please let it happen soon before we’re all forced to beg twitter, facebook, etc for our data back.

Google plus and unlinking feeds


I’m now on Google Plus which seems pretty good but I got issues with it.

First up I like the circles methodology but what bugs me is the fact that those circles only exist within the Google plus ecosystem and thats even with the Google plus application on my Android phone. Weirdly enough I already tagged most of my contacts in Gmail and that does sync with my phone.

Ideally Google plus would understand the tags I’ve assigned to people in Gmail and allow me to automatically translate those into circles.

Google Plus also feels like a early Facebook right now, everything is deep inside its walls. It looks like Google might be catching up with Facebook by not making the same mistakes. But I do wonder about the integration with other Google products? I noticed the profile is synced with your Google profile so thats good, it looks like Buzz makes up the Stream part and I think I saw Google Talk somewhere on the stream bit.

One of my biggest complaints is the ability to send twitter microblogs into Buzz/Stream. I wrote on the stream space something like that. Just on a off point, it is great to see the privacy options in Google Plus, hence why I can actually link directly to the thread of discussion. In the end Adewale send a link to Unlink your feeds.

You need to unlink your feeds.

I understand why you did it. I’ve made the same mistake myself. But it’s hurting your friends, it’s hurting you, and it’s hurting the Internet. You need to stop.

You need to stop automatically dumping your feeds from one account into another.

Look, I know it’s tempting. New service, not sure how you’ll keep up with the ever demanding maw and there’s the “import your content” button, right there in the sign-up process. A quick trip through a login screen or an OAuth link and there you are: All your stuff automatically aggregated into a new one-stop-shop of the genius things that pop out of your head.

No muss, no fuss, right?

This is an illusory solution. It’s a false idol. It’s contributing to noise pollution on the Internet and the only people it helps are company execs who want to make spurious claims about “user engagement”. It’s diminishing the quality of your output and of others’ experiences.

You need to unlink your feeds and put a tiny bit more effort into using each service for what it is.

So I disagree and I’ll give you my reasons why… Of course this may only apply to me… And I understand this may not be true for everyone.

Its hurting your friends.

My friends are very divided and so those on facebook don’t use twitter, so there’s little duplication. I get the spamming idea but frankly if I didn’t dump my twitter into facebook, I would say little to nothing on facebook. This might also sum up how I feel about facebook generally…

Its hurting you.

Oh agreed but we covered the lack of respect I have for facebook. I would also add why the heck would I spend so much time on crafting messages which work in favor of the company hosting the social network? If there was an argument for a distributed social network, this would be it.

Its hurting the internet.

"Stop thinking like a spammer and starting thinking like a person." Well I would say this is nonsense. I’m one person and what I say is generally what I would say in a public space. Facebook isn’t a public space (or at least it mixes the public and walled garden too much) ideally I would be able to link (maybe even xinclude) my comment.

I know some of my friends on Facebook do wonder whats with the # and @ but they’ve mainly got over it now. Hopefully one day it will be easier to almost xinclude your thoughts from one to another and slightly alter it. Right now a linked feed is the best way to do this…

There’s a better way.

At last something we do agree on…

I have a vision of a new social networking paradigm. Handcrafted social networks.

I imagine a world where people take each network for what it is and participate (or not) on those terms. Instead of a firehose slurry of everything buckets, I imagine separate streams of purified whatever-it-is-each-service-does. I envision users that post when they’re inspired and don’t mind skipping a few days if nothing particularly interesting comes up.

I’m like Thumper’s mother. “If you can’t think of anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”

I imagine people taking the extra 10 seconds to reformat a post for each service if the message is so relevant and important that it needs to show up more than once. I imagine being able to choose who I follow and what subset of their postings I get with a high degree of granularity.

There may come a day when this vision gets implemented on the server side. When all the social networks give me fine grain control for hiding subsets of the updates sent out by my contacts. But until that day comes, it’s gotta be solved on the client side.

I thought Google plus would be along this line but its not. It does a lot of things right including Dataportability, thanks to the Data Liberation front’s Data takeout service.

So my general thoughts is Google plus has got the basics kind of right but there overlooking some of the advantages they could bring to plus like Gmail contact sync and the Android application. The Facebook application on Android is pretty poor to say the least (i don’t even know why I got it on my phone), and frankly Google+ is even worst. Where’s the contract syncing once again? And heck why is no one doing event syncing?

I noticed Google plus does actually have my connections to Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, etc but isn’t make use of them at all. I know there’s conflict between Google and Facebook but hey if I choose to pull stuff from these other services to Google plus, thats my decision.

Google plus does feel a lot more open (and funny enough a lot like Diaspora) that the closed wall system of Facebook but they really do need to improve on certain aspects before I use it fully.

Facebook dataportability at long last

I have to give Facebook some credit, this week they launched the ability to dump your data out of facebook.

First, we’ve built an easy way to quickly download to your computer everything you’ve ever posted on Facebook and all your correspondences with friends: your messages, Wall posts, photos, status updates and profile information.

If you want a copy of the information you’ve put on Facebook for any reason, you can click a link and easily get a copy of all of it in a single download. To protect your information, this feature is only available after confirming your password and answering appropriate security questions. We’ll begin rolling out this feature to people later today, and you’ll find it under your account settings.

Second, we’re launching a new dashboard to give you visibility into how applications use your data to personalize your experience. As you start having more social and personalized experiences across the web, it’s important that you can verify exactly how other sites are using your information to make your experience better.

As this rolls out, in your Facebook privacy settings, you will have a single view of all the applications you’ve authorized and what data they use. You can also see in detail when they last accessed your data. You can change the settings for an application to make less information available to it, or you can even remove it completely.

Its a total dump and although slightly impressive on the surface, other services such as 37signals Basecamp have had the ability to export your data for a long time. Interestingly there doesn’t seem to be a way to import your data, but then again I can’t see that coming anytime soon. It will be interesting to see what happens in this area when Diaspora comes along and gains traction. I’ll actually really like to add the ability to export to twitter right now, so I can see all the tweets mentioning me which were sent to me while I was in hospital.