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Could Open Source Render Facebook the Next AOL? 293

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the can't-happen-fast-enough dept.
joabj writes "Now that Facebook has amassed more than 500 million users, a growing number of open source social networking developers are wondering if Facebook's photo sharing, status updates and other features wouldn't work better as Internet-wide standardized services. At the OSCON conference last week, the head of Identi.ca, an open source Twitter-like microblogging service, likened today's social networking services to the enormously proprietary online services of the early 1990s, like AOL or Prodigy. He suggested that just like SMTP and Sendmail standardized what were previously propriety e-mail services, so too could open source social networking stacks, like OStatus, render walled garden services like Facebook obsolete."
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Could Open Source Render Facebook the Next AOL?

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  • Too late (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:18AM (#33067894) Journal

    They're too late to join the game. The problem is that Facebook already has everyone you know, so everyone joins it because everyone else already is there. Some random mumblings about walled gardens and open source won't make normal people switch over.

    Difference with AOL (never even heard about Prodigy) versus email is that a lot of people used the standard email. I think AOL was mostly just US-centric too, I don't know anyone who would had actually used it. This was also time when internet was mostly used by geeks who understood it and valued open standards.

    Someone in these kind of stories always suggests that you set up your own Facebook-like service or just a website. That's just thinking too much of yourself - why would people visit your site just to see your stuff? Facebook is great because it lets me easily see them from all the people, even if I don't keep in touch with them so much.

    Also, how do you handle things like Facebook games and cooperation with people in them? Oh, you say Facebook games are stupid and people shouldn't play them. Arrogant attitudes like that don't really help either, because people obviously like the games. We aren't the ones to tell other people what they should or shouldn't like.

    In Facebook's case one big service works a lot better than thousand small ones. How would you even search for people, places, events and so on with them? It would go back to the @something.com convention which defeats the whole purpose.

    When I was recently visiting a different country I could easily search for the one guy I knew. From his connections I found everyone else I had met and also saw a lot of interesting events and businesses I wouldn't had otherwise known about. You can't really use a search engine for something you don't know about. This was the first time I actually understood how great service Facebook is - you just have to use it correctly.

    • Re:Too late (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Spad (470073) <slashdot@nOspaM.spad.co.uk> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:24AM (#33067962) Homepage

      I will not sign up for a Facebook account unless something serious changes with regards to privacy and security. However, I *would* sign up for a service that allowed communication with Facebook users, so that I can more easily keep in touch with people, without exposing myself to all the Facebook crap that I want to avoid.

      Such a service would provide a gateway through which people could move away from Facebook if they don't like it without having to deal with the problem of losing access to all their friends and profiles.

      • Re:Too late (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DarkSarin (651985) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:32AM (#33068068) Homepage Journal

        Problem is that most services (currently) that can communicate with FB users requires that you have a FB account--so that it knows WHICH FB users to communicate with.

      • Re:Too late (Score:4, Informative)

        by PerfectionLost (1004287) <`moc.noitulosertcefrep' `ta' `neb'> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:42AM (#33068202)

        Try trillian. They have a facebook plugin.

      • Re:Too late (Score:5, Interesting)

        by zr-rifle (677585) <zedr@zedrMOSCOW.com minus city> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:02AM (#33068446) Homepage
        You can communicate with your friends without exposing your personal information to Facebook:
        1. Register an account with a false name and leave it devoid of any personal content.
        2. Add your friends telling them it's you, without revealing your complete name
        3. Download the Pidgin IM (gratis & libre) client and use it to message your friends
        4. Delete all your browser cookies relative to Facebook
        5. ???
        6. PROFIT!!!

        Just don't be too revealing about yourself in your instant messages :)

        • Re:Too late (Score:4, Insightful)

          by snowraver1 (1052510) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:49AM (#33069112)
          Also, if you would like to communicate with your friends, you can also:

          1. Call them (yes on the telephone).
          2. Visit them.
          3. Use one of dozens of Instant Messanger applications including: SMS, MS Messenger, and Blackberry Messenger.
          • Re:Too late (Score:4, Insightful)

            by painandgreed (692585) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @01:15PM (#33071748)

            Also, if you would like to communicate with your friends, you can also:

            1. Call them (yes on the telephone).

            Let's see, time to call all my 254 friends to tell them the URL where the photos of my latest vacation are: Somewhere around 21 hours if I don't stop to talk about anything, eat, or go to the bathroom. Even if I limit to the friends that are local because I'm inviting them to BBQ this weekend, it's still around 10 hours.

            2. Visit them.

            Multiply the above times by 6 for local friends or turn hours into days for non-local friends.

            3. Use one of dozens of Instant Messanger applications including: SMS, MS Messenger, and Blackberry Messenger.

            Less people use those than use Facebook and you'd have to use multiple methods and keep track of which methods were used to contact which people.

            Face it, your solutions are trivial and irrational. We already used those methods and still have them to use. If it was easier, quicker, or of better quality to use those methods, Facebook and other social networking services, or even the internet never would have become widely used. It's like telling people to go back to reading magazines and dead tree newspapers rather than use the internet. Next you'll be telling people that if they want to visit friends or family, they can use a horse and buggy instead of a car. The simple matter of fact is that Facebook has features that work better than other methods and has reached critical mass where it can be considered a standard. For making announcements, posting photos, or scheduling events, there's not much else that does it as well with as many people using it. It is also one of those "dozens of Instant Messanger applications" that you were talking about.

            • Re:Too late (Score:4, Insightful)

              by snowraver1 (1052510) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @01:51PM (#33072524)
              I said communicate with friends, not "friends". I doubt that more than 10% of those 254 "friends" give a shit about your last vacation, and maybe 25% of that 10% give a shit about your BBQ.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by skiman1979 (725635)

              Let's see, time to call my 254 friends...

              I guess the term 'friend' is being used somewhat lightly.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by BrokenHalo (565198)
          You can communicate with your friends without exposing your personal information to Facebook:

          Yep. I don't have a Facebook account, primarily because I don't care for the way it seems to swallow up the lives of its users. However, I and most of my friends use Skype, which works elegantly as a combination of IM and VOIP. Skype makes it clear when one is or is not available to be contacted, so no-one has to get huffy about whether or not you've seen such-and-such a Facebook message or email.

          I'm not about
      • The problem with Facebook, is the very thing that makes it work. People like you want walled garden for your life, when in reality, there is no such thing.

        You want privacy, but on the other hand, you want people to know how to find you, which means breaching privacy.

        I haven't gained any friends since joining FB, and I'm not losing any friends if I leave FB. I don't count new people "friends" and online people are not friends until we've become involved IRL.

        Lastly, I don't put anything on FB that I don't wan

      • Such a service would provide a gateway through which people could move away from Facebook if they don't like it without having to deal with the problem of losing access to all their friends and profiles.

        And people would instantly start making their own communities and linking back to Facebook, which would ironically turn into a meta-community, providing directory and API services to connect a bunch of Facebook clones. Somehow I don't see this happening. Making Facebook better would destroy it.

    • Re:Too late (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:24AM (#33067966) Journal

      They're too late to join the game. The problem is that Facebook already has everyone you know, so everyone joins it because everyone else already is there. Some random mumblings about walled gardens and open source won't make normal people switch over.

      Well let's travel backward in time to when Facebook was starting. Now let's rephrase your statement:

      They're too late to join the game. The problem is that MySpace already has everyone you know, so everyone joins it because everyone else already is there. Some random mumblings about really bad user design and spam won't make normal people switch over and all the bands will stay on MySpace since Facebook doesn't host music.

      Now if we go a little further back to when MySpace was starting:

      They're too late to join the game. The problem is that Friendster already has everyone you know, so everyone joins it because everyone else already is there. Some random mumblings about ... about ... what was wrong with Friendster again?

      Obviously the barrier you speak of has been broken down and it can be broken down again. You just have to understand your users better than Facebook does. And given the user feedback [slashdot.org] wouldn't you say that's possible to do?

      I would counter that the real big dealbreaker would be ability to import all pictures and posts from Facebook into the new system. So you would have the user run an app from their local machine that needs their username and password and then scrapes everything off of Facebook while a loading bar processes it and then loads it into the new system. Option at the end to delete the Facebook account and maybe send an e-mail to Facebook telling them that if they don't permanently remove your user data from all their servers, you will get litigious. Of course, that's just a fantasy of mine ...

      • I like that fantasy, tell me more about it! lol

      • Re:Too late (Score:4, Informative)

        by PerfectionLost (1004287) <`moc.noitulosertcefrep' `ta' `neb'> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:45AM (#33068236)

        Unfortunately part of the Terms of Service of the Facebook API prevents storage of data received through the API on a remote source.

        • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:54AM (#33068368) Journal

          Unfortunately part of the Terms of Service of the Facebook API prevents storage of data received through the API on a remote source.

          I never said to use the Facebook API.

          For a mental exercise let's imagine (and really maybe Perl is the better choice here) that I made a Ruby gem called SocialWalker or something of the sort and basically I used mechanize [rubyforge.org] to log into Facebook after getting the user's credentials. Then the application connects to my webservice that sends the latest selector strings (harvested from the latest Facebook interface by hand with SelectorGadget [selectorgadget.com]) and also Nokogiri [nokogiri.org] to quickly scrape off all the information and date/time stamps [railscasts.com]. I think the pictures would be a different kind of effort but completely feasible.

          At that point, the user could save it in some documented open social file format that any application can read ... it would probably be a tree directory with a bunch of XML files and images. Maybe they want to put that into Diaspora and I would have a way that the system would autopopulate their diaspora with this archived data? Maybe they want to do their own thing with it? Maybe I could spend time doing this for Facebook and MySpace and Friendster and whatever you send me a link to?

          Yeah, I might not be able to spider your posts on your friends walls and maybe I won't be able to get some information and maybe the new system won't let you back timestamp things so that data has to be put in the comments on your new photo albums.

          Maybe Google could be petitioned to create this system instead of some developer who prefers to get drunk on the weekends instead of liberating social network users? Google is the god of scraping and caching after all.

          But it would look like nothing more than one user looking at all their history one last time ;) No API ToS violations needed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DJRumpy (1345787)

        I also had to laugh a few of the choice comments in there.

        (never even heard about Prodigy)

        Someone in these kind of stories always suggests that you set up your own Facebook-like service or just a website. That's just thinking too much of yourself - why would people visit your site just to see your stuff?

        You'd be surprised at how many people just surfed to find other people's 'home pages' on the net. I remember when I downloaded my first browser, I sat there for hours just trying random URL's to see what was

      • Re:Too late (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jridley (9305) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:58AM (#33068406)

        Totally doesn't hold up. Back when MySpace was big, I don't think I knew more than 2 or 3 people with MySpace pages. It was pretty much exclusively a teen/college hangout.

        These days the only people that I know who do NOT have Facebook pages are people without internet connections at all (lots of my family) and people who are security curmudgeons (like me). Even people who barely get on the internet use Facebook. Lots of people only even have an internet connection so that they CAN use Facebook.

      • Obviously, your comparing apples and oranges. 500 million plus is a strong barrier. Google could have owned this and maybe still can.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        The problem really isn't that nobody can replace facebook.
        The problem is that if and or when it happens it will be another walled garden.
        Distributed open standards? You mean like for IM?
        Jabber has been around for how long? And so far only Google seems to really use it.
        It is a shame because it is a very powerful and useful system.
        Had it been around from the start every ISP could have run a jabber server like they do email.
        Jabber servers can talk to each other and wham you have an open standards based IM....
        S

      • by spiralx (97066)

        Except that other than the ability to add friends the only 'social' features of Myspace were uploading photos (no tagging/albums though) and posting a comment on someone's page. Facebook offers an order of magnitude more ways of interacting with people, and they all support conversations with as many participants as want to be involved.

        And that's ignoring quite how crap Myspace's interface was when Facebook went public; even now it's years behind.

    • Re:Too late (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mdwh2 (535323) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:32AM (#33068060) Journal

      In Facebook's case one big service works a lot better than thousand small ones. How would you even search for people, places, events and so on with them? It would go back to the @something.com convention which defeats the whole purpose.

      I'm not sure what the problem with that is. I much prefer the current situation with email, where we have thousands of email services (they don't have to be "small", btw - e..g, GMail), but I can email someone on another service.

      Compare with Facebook, where you can only message or read someone's status etc, if you join. And if they're on some other blog/networking site, you can't easily communicate.

      As for searching, well, I think we've managed to do reasonably well at being able to search information on the Internet on multiple sites...

      A similar issue applies to instant messaging - there is Jabber at least.

      There have been some attempts to interoperate and promote open common standards - things like OpenID, RSS, FOAF. Unfortunately part of the problem is that it's a much harder problem to crack (e.g., how do you deal with things like privacy settings, so that a status/blog entry is only visible to certain people?)

      Facebook is great because it lets me easily see them from all the people, even if I don't keep in touch with them so much.

      Yes indeed - but how well does it work when you're updating on Facebook, someone else is on Twitter, and another person is on LiveJournal? RSS helps in this regard.

      • by corbettw (214229)

        (e.g., how do you deal with things like privacy settings, so that a status/blog entry is only visible to certain people?)

        Require whatever microblogging software you're using to use public/private key authentication. To add someone as a friend, you add their public key which they have provided. To read a status update, you provide your private key. If it doesn't match one of the public keys in the authorized keys file, you don't get access. All of this could be handled behind the scenes and be invisible to users.

      • I think what is really making FB work is it's marketing potential. You can advertise there and get a lot of bang for your buck. They are going to make money doing that for sure. We are in a cycle now where people want closed systems. This will change of course when everyone has that but it goes in cycles. FB has 5 more years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by poetmatt (793785)

      uh, facebook had intertia. note the word. should a new site start grabbing people's interest and show that they aren't abusive of people's rights like facebook, facebook will be dropped as quickly as myspace was/is.

    • Re:Too late (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tomhudson (43916) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:53AM (#33068352) Journal
      Wo says they'd have to visit your site? All your site has to do is serve out the data to any app or plugin that they want to run. You're thinking too 1990 here.

      And btw, open source won't turn facebook into another aol - facebook is doing that all by itself.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        facebook is already pissing off the more techie users. I want RSS feeds that I can filter. Facebook wont give me that. I found my OWN rss feed that I have to pull down with my own server and parse like a madman, but I cant get all the data streams I want.

        I want to do my own data mining to aggregate the ton of crud that facebook has in it. I also want to have friend tiers.. Friend tier 1, 2,3,4 and 5... Make each post have the ability to apply a tier X and above can see this.

        same for privacy info...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      AOl and Prodigy are the mee-too latecomers to the party as well. Compuserve was the king of them all and could not be de-throned...

      Until Prodigy came along with their clever GUI and lower rates...

      Then AOL ate prodigy's lunch with an even better dumbed down GUI and clicky interface as well as even lower rates..

      Then the internet happened, delivering more content. People could get even lower rates and avoid the busy phone line..

      Then broadband happened, this event ate AOL's lunch hard.

      Then friendster, Myspac

      • by Comboman (895500)

        Then AOL ate prodigy's lunch with an even better dumbed down GUI and clicky interface as well as even lower rates..

        Not to mention an endless supply of free 'blank' discs delivered directly to your home.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Definitely not too late.

      My Parents are now on facebook. As are all of their friends, which is great for them and reconnecting (VS something like classmates.com). However when they let anyone register it turned it into Facebook's own Eternal September. "Likes" and "Groups" are thankfully replacing the stupid forwards that people send out.

      I'd say 1/4 of LameBook [lamebook.com] and FailBook [failbook.com] posts are because you friended a parent and they commented on stuff. The groups are nice, but a pain to setup as are controls of who can

  • Great, open source (Score:2, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) *

    An OSS Facebook will have hundreds of competing distros, several dozen kernel forks, Countless different versions of the standards that developers will argue over for years, horrid UI's, and no documentation. New users wishing to convert over from commercial Facebook will be told "Well, first you have to decide if you want to go with a RTH, KJG, RTY, or TTTY desktop interface; then you need to pick a client from this list which you can download from this obscure irc channel; then you need to config it to yo

    • by Spad (470073) <slashdot@nOspaM.spad.co.uk> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:22AM (#33067932) Homepage

      Except that all that will need to be done by the people hosting the services, not the users using them.

      • One advantage of Facebook is that it's a central resource where (almost) everybody hangs out. Like Usenet used to be.

        If everybody starts putting-up their own OSS variants of Facebook, then the community will fragment - just like what happened to Newsgroups. I used to be able to log in one spot and be done. Now I have to log in 20 different web boards to catch up with the latest news/gossip
        .

        • by S.O.B. (136083)

          I agree that an OSS centralized social networking service like Facebook would likely be a mess. A distributed network like Diaspora [joindiaspora.com] would eliminate the problems you pointed out. That is, assuming the interfaces between the nodes are well defined and stable.

          I never joined Facebook because I generally don't trust free services. They eventually have to make money and that generally comes from selling their users' information but an open, distributed network allows for free services for those who don't mind

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by timeOday (582209)
        Did that save Usenet from being marginalized by proprietary web boards? Look at the iPhone, with a centralized "app store" and a separate app for everything, displacing the idea of interoperable web services accessible from any Internet device. Do we see a network of bazaars where we can put items for sale on web pages using a markup so they are searchable, or one big monolithinc website, ebay? Even email is being marginalized by texting and twitter (which are essentially services, not standards) and gma
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RabbitWho (1805112)
      I think you're confusing OS - Operating system with OS - open source. They won't be making an operating system, they'll be making a website.
      To front-end users it doesn't have to be any more complicated than facebook or bebo or orkut, the same types of processes will go into making it but the processes will not be secret. That's what open source means.
    • by kaiser423 (828989) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:28AM (#33068004)
      Huh. Are you on some irc channel of basement dwellers that got caught in a net-split back in the 90's and got stuck in that time period?

      You'd make a great find for some anthropologists.
    • by mdwh2 (535323) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:40AM (#33068180) Journal

      Throwing insults at open source gets you +5 on Slashdot - I'd never thought I'd see the day.

      If you want an example of an open source social networking site, take a look at Livejournal [livejournal.com]. Are you seriously telling me that the closed source Facebook is a better website than Livejournal? The UI is far better than Facebook, it's easy to use and doesn't have bugs, plenty of documentation, and was doing all this long before Facebook.

      Aside from your comments being false (I use Windows personally, but I tried Ubuntu recently and found it worked and looked just fine; I didn't even need documenation), you're missing the point. This is more about open standards than open source as such. If you bother to RTFA:

      Just like open standards for e-mail and the Web broke users free from proprietary closed networks of the early 1990s, so too could a new set of standards allow people to share their thoughts, photos and comments across the Internet, regardless of what social networking services they use

      It's clear that it's more about open standards, than necessarily open source alternatives. If there were open standards, yes there'd be a load more "Facebooks", but closed source sites would still be free to make use of them - just as we have closed source email clients. So even if you believed that giving away source somehow made an application terrible, you'd still be okay.

      I take it you must absolutely hate email then, because that's based on open standards like SMTP? Obviously all email clients must have terrible UIs, no documentation, and be a pain to install, by your logic...

      • Are you seriously telling me that the closed source Facebook is a better website than Livejournal?

        Comparisons aside...

        I thought I read not too long ago that Facebook is, in fact, built on open source (LAMP, among other things).

        True, all the stupid games are Flash-based, but that's not really Facebook.

        What is closed source at Facebook? I'm honestly interested.

      • LiveJournal is going downhill fast (annoying popup ads for example), and most of my friends have stopped posting there since moving to facebook.

        As for the guy's other comments I agree that Linux is a confusing mish-mash:
        - Should I use GNU, Ubuntu, Puppy, or some other variant?
        I picked Ubuntu:
        - Now do I use Gubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, or some other confusing mishmash of first letters?
        - And what is this Lucid Lynx and Intrepid Ibex and other weird names everyone keeps talking about?

        Since I'm a geek I plowed th

    • by Magorak (85788) *

      I agree with you completely.

      There's a misconception amongst hardcore OSS folks that everyone in the world likes to "tinker". No, they don't. No they want things to just WORK and when it doesn't, to be able to get answers easily without being chastised and made fun of because of their "inferior" knowledge.

      I consider myself a full on geek as I have been surrounded by computers since I was 7 years old (30 years ago). I've programmed in DOS to C to PHP. I've built servers, I've taught classes, I've blah blah bl

      • by vbraga (228124)

        Most installs I have done have gone off without a hitch, but when something doesn't work, it's hell trying to find an answer. Scouring through message boards and countless other sites trying to get an answer on the simplest questions is not fun. Plus, in many instances, the Linux community comes back with the harshest of answers saying that if I don't know how to recompile my kernel, or don't know how to fix a driver issue, I shouldn't be using Linux in the first place.

        Funny. Just like you, I tried to migrate from a mostly Windows desktop to Linux. My install borked completely - reasons unknow. But if there was something that surprised me a lot was the willingness of the community to help me. People - on the openSUSE forum and IRC channel - were amazing. Every obscure way to try to get things working was tried - and it finally worked. This myth that the community is harsh or unfriendly is unjustified. If you want to give Linux a try again I suggest you - if you can't find

      • by IANAAC (692242)

        Telling me to "google it" is not an answer.

        Why not?

        Imagine that I had never used Windows. Where would I go to look for documentation? Microsoft doesn't provide documentation any longer, aside from the context help system. And that's just as bad as any other context help system, be it on a Linux box or on a Mac. Really.

        I think you're confusing widespread knowledge from friends or co-workers (or maybe even your own) as documentation.

        Sometimes an internet search is exactly what's needed.

      • We already have 100 crappy copies - we've got Facebook, Myspace, Bebo etc etc. There is some overlap in functionality but the basis is the same - a profile, a friends list, private and public messages, a "wall" of some form, maybe apps, etc. That's part of the problem.

        Instead of this would it not be better to have an invisible (to the user) infrastructure that can connect these together?

        Obviously users want things that just work, but people still like a choice and why can't they have a choice of things that

    • by corbettw (214229)

      You do realize you're on a forum powered by Open Source software, right? And yet you no trouble posting. So what's your objection again?

    • And before you mod me troll, know that this is exactly what Linux (and plenty of other OSS) looks like to a non-geek user.

      If I had mod points, I would mod you as a troll. Why? Most of your post is wildly inaccurate and quite irrelevant to the given topic. Since I don't have mod points, I'm going to break this post in to smaller, more digestible chunks for the fun of it.

      An OSS Facebook will have hundreds of competing distros

      Why would you have a "distribution" of a website? I have yet to see a website that included a bunch of bundled applications to... OK, I forgot about Google but you get the point.

      several dozen kernel forks

      Kernel forks, really? A website would have several dozen kernel forks? Do you

  • Seriously (Score:2, Interesting)

    Yes, and just like Sendmail prevented Microsoft from a $1 Billion a year messaging platform (Exchange) and Linux prevented Microsoft from a $15 Billion a year Server platform. *yawn* Nothing to see here, please move along.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bsDaemon (87307)

      Exchange uses SMTP to send and receive mail. Linux and unencumbered BSDs pretty much killed off the commercial UNIX market. Solaris is limping along, and AIX is off in its little world, but that's not really saying much. OS X technically counts, but their target market isn't really the same. What happened to the gazillion other Unicies? All dead.

      I'm not sure I get the fixation everyone has with Microsoft. Exchange provides additional services which many people apparently find useful. Zimbra is a comp

  • Farmville! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AntEater (16627) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:25AM (#33067976) Homepage

    Unless they can get Farmville ported to an open platform most facebook users will never leave no matter hope open or technically superior an alternative is.

    • by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:30AM (#33068046)

      Unless they can get Farmville ported to an open platform most facebook users will never leave no matter hope open or technically superior an alternative is.

      But Farmville [google.com] *is* an open platform. Anyone can go there and try their hand at farming!

    • Unless they can get Farmville ported to an open platform most facebook users will never leave no matter hope open or technically superior an alternative is.

      I don't know, I "deactivated" my facebook. And felt disconnected, as all my contacts are integrated on my Android system and everybody is communicating in that fashion. (when I did, people from all over the world started texting asking me wherever I died.)

      The "Farmville" and other apps like that are on ignore on my facebook.

      The same with holiday picture

    • Sad but probably true, every time I check Facebook I have tons of invites for whatever the new 'ville is that I haven't blocked yet.
    • If anything, I'd be glad to be on a social network that wasn't occupied by obsessive browser game addicts. Ideally, they would stay on Facebook forever.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:28AM (#33068010) Homepage

    Facebook provides a few things, in no small part because of its sheer size:

    1) Ability to find most of the people you know easily.
    2) Ability to share a lot of information in a really, really easy with people.
    3) Ability to do web-based social gaming in that same context.
    4) Bring together basic blog and community organizing features.

    The open source hurdles are really:

    1) Discovering users.
    2) Sharing assets between sites.
    3) Coordinating communications between sites (if one wants to create something analogous to Facebook's wall).

    Those are big hurdles, especially the ability (or perception of being able) to accurately discover other users one knows. Most of us here know that there is no guarantee that someone who claims to be a particular identity on Facebook isn't Chester the Molester, an enemy masquerading as a friend who didn't have an account before, etc. However, Facebook is perceived as safe by a lot of people, and an open environment would be perceived of in quite different terms.

    • I think you've hit on the right features Facebook provides, but the key word here in all of them is "EASY". That is the biggest hurdle for open source... providing an easy end user experience. That, and attracting developers.
    • by corbettw (214229)

      #1 is the biggest hurdle any social networking site has to beat to beat FB at their own game. I recently got back in touch with some old shipmates from the Navy, guys I hadn't spoken to in 20 years who are now on my friends list. Without a central repository of user accounts, there's no way we would've ever gotten back in touch.

      Running your own microblogging service is great for businesses and organizations who want to keep their customers/partners/employees in the know about events, and it might even be go

    • by numbski (515011)

      A large step in the right direction would be to search by email address, just like Facebook did/does.

  • 2011 will be the year of Lin...no wait. I mean 2011 will be the year of open source social networks on the desk...er, in your browser.
  • by coder111 (912060) <{coder} {at} {rrmail.com}> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:30AM (#33068044)
    This is the only way to ensure you control it. Distributed hosting, where friends host their friends' status if they are offline. Everything crypted/signed with public/private keys to ensure no spoofing. Ability to create pseudonyms and enter as much personal data as I want, and possibility of anonimity.

    Something like that I'd actually sign up for.

    --Coder
    • by Meneth (872868)
      Diaspora was supposed to do this, but they've been very quiet the last month.
  • Like AOL? Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nateand (1487549)
    Did AOL ever have even close to 500 million users, much less worldwide? If facebook ever dies, it'll be a slow and drawn out process.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jeffmeden (135043)

      It's not impossible. Remember, no one is paying to be on Facebook (well except the advertisers) so no one has a buy-in mentality other than the time spent on their profiles. If there were a site that offered better privacy (by default), the ability to "suck" all the profile information from Facebook (simple API trick) and better features (like NO FUCKING FARMVILLE ALLOWED) then I think a lot of people would switch. Heck, you could have a service that simply pushed/pulled Facebook info to sync it up with

  • by Fortunato_NC (736786) <verlinh75NO@SPAMmsn.com> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:33AM (#33068084) Homepage Journal

    It might be open source, or it might not be, but eventually, someone will come along with a "better Facebook than Facebook", and it will slowly die.

    That's just creative destruction at work. It ALWAYS happens.

    Facebook was a better MySpace than MySpace.
    MySpace was a better Friendster than Friendster.
    Friendster was a better Classmates.com than Classmates.com. ...and so on...

    Google was a better Altavista than Altavista.
    AOL Instant Messenger was a better ICQ than ICQ.
    USENET was a better BBS than old-school dialup bulletin board.
    Books were better scrolls than scrolls.

    Something newer and better is going to come along. People talk about Facebook and the network effect "locking in" people, but creative destruction is even more powerful than the network effect.

    • However Open Source is not a service... It is a licensing model. Now they may make an Open Specification for sharing this information across multiple sites. And that may work for a bit until you get too much crap. Or a new method deals with handling that much crap better.

      I am not a big supporter for Open Source. I am though a big supporter of Open Specification. Why? Open Source is focused on the software... In the most part no one really cares about the source code. Often the time it takes for you an

  • The future might well be open social networks, but it will take a lot of time. There are huge challenges ahead, given the amount of data that has to be aggregated and displayed. Facebook does some very clever stuff to aggregate all those status updates, comments, images, etc. into your news feed. Doing this across the Internet instead of in a data centre will require a lot more bandwidth and less latency than we currently have.

    I'm sure a lot of people here on Slashdot are happy to bash Facebook, but it can

  • you have the same issue that competitors to e-bay have; Name,
  • Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MonsterTrimble (1205334) <monstertrimble&hotmail,com> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:36AM (#33068126)
    I honestly think I could work pretty well. Basically a distributed client side setup with the big things that facebook does and (for the most part) does well: Share stuff with people you know - statuses, comments, messages, photos. Build something like a Pidgin/Yahoo messenger client which can pull status & wall feeds from friends who are online and from common friends who have updated information on friends who are not online. For photo sharing, have an interface with one of the big photo sites (or all of them) for photos.
    • by bsDaemon (87307)

      "back in the day," aka the mid-to-late 90s, I managed just fine to keep track of contacts on ICQ and later moving to AIM, plus the people I knew in various IRC channels on a couple of different servers, though I mostly hung out on EFNet. Most of the IRC people and about half the ICQ people, I had never met in person and never did. All the AIM people where from school. Different "friend circles" didn't know, or need to know, about each other in 90% of cases. Email was completely separate. If I wanted to

  • FB Disks? (Score:2, Funny)

    by spyingwind (961097)
    So I can get a Facebook Official diskette/CD?
  • by Pete Venkman (1659965) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:37AM (#33068156) Journal

    I don't want a "new facebook" even if it's open source. Social media started off great, but from what I've seen a lot of it turns into posts about what someone ate for breakfast or how they hate rainy afternoons. I don't CARE about 99% of the stuff that my "friends" post about. If the cost of dumping facebook is no longer being plugged in to the social scene, then I say someone else can have it.

    I think a problem with social media is that there is a presumption that someone cares about YOU. Why do you make a facebook page? Because you want to let your friends know what YOU are up to. Who fucking cares? Do something worthwhile and then people who care can find out about you that way.

    • Yes, how dare people presume other people care about them? The presumptuousness is preposterous!

      You know, you're perfectly welcome not to use any social media sites. Lots of people like sharing trivialities with their friends, clearly. I'd go so far as to say that's mostly what having friends is about, as opposed to colleagues.

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:39AM (#33068170) Homepage Journal
    No, Facebook will render Facebook obsolete. A lot of people are spending less time on their now than they did before. The novelty is wearing off, and eventually people won't care about it at all. It will eventually be replaced not by one single thing but by a variety of better things, including actual human-to-human interaction.
    • by fermion (181285)
      A generation was introduced to the online world through AOL. As young people were introduced to the web, the relevance of AOL went away, and it failed. Now young people are introduced to the web through services like Facebook. If this continues, through groups of young people, it won't matter that they migrate away as they become more sophisticated. There will always be a new group of young people who want to feel popular.

      The primary danger to Facebook is that something simler comes along. The attrac

    • by oodaloop (1229816) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:20AM (#33068682)

      It will eventually be replaced not by one single thing but by a variety of better things, including actual human-to-human interaction.

      How, by teleporting me to see my friends all over the world? If you could teleport me across the internet, I wouldn't be using the technology to idly chat with relatives and old class-mates, if you catch my drift. I'd use it go get a Monster drink everytime I need one. Like right now. Oh sweet blue Monster, how I miss you.

    • I put my hopes in diaspora [joindiaspora.com].
    • Since the internet hit the mainstream, the trend has been to have less human-to-human interaction. It started with things like IRC, USENet, and email, and has expanded to Web-based forums, blogs, comments on the bottom of news websites, and Facebook. Human to Human interaction is messy. Humans are dumb, annoying, selfish, greedy, and lazy. But on Facebook, humans are reduced to some cute pictures and a periodic status. One can communicate light heartedly with your "friends" simply by replying to commen

  • No, assuming you mean "could open source shut down Facebook". But a really good open source application could. So could a really good closed source application.

    See, outside a relatively small community of OSS fans, no one really cares whether their software is open source or not. What they want to know is, "Does this software do what I want, is it easy to use, and is it cheaper than the alternatives?" Note the order -- it's important. If if doesn't do what they want, ease of use doesn't matter. If it

  • You Betcha! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by assertation (1255714) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @09:53AM (#33068360)

    I see articles everyday that satisfaction is low among Facebook users. They are hanging around, in part, because there aren't any worthy alternatives from their perspective.

    Once Diaspora is out, I'm getting a few good friends to sign up with me, then I'm deleting my Facebook account.

    If Facebook pulls another "We did this, we didn't tell you, we don't care and you'll like it" stunt after that point, many other Facebook users will dump them too.

  • Pretty please?
  • Yes, it could. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HeckRuler (1369601) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @10:20AM (#33068674)
    Yeah, I've had this idea as well. Because Facebook is simple. It's a webpage with text and pictures uploaded by users that has interfaces with others' web page. Rather then facebook or myspace, an open source alternative that people would run on their own. Websites with "user" uploaded content are, you know, old hat, so this boils down to protocols to deal with interaction between sites. And remember, this IS the social portion of social networks.

    so what are all these interactions that need protocols:
    -Establishing networks of trust, friendship, and hate. That whole "friends request" thing.

    And that's essentially the only one that's required to make an open source distributed social network like facebook. Everything else is, not trivial, but it's been done. If it can be made cheap and simple enough (that itself a monumental task), then the masses could use it. But they won't, as inertial will keep them in facebook.
    The rest is just features:

    -Poke. It's one freaking message.
    -Post on another wall/picture/whatnot. It's been done.
    -Search through others pictures for tags of you.
    -Set up events, invite people.
    -Establish groups of people. The owner would host of course, but transferring ownership could be interesting.
    • And google (and/or other search engines) could implement the functionality of compiling a nice overview of what your friends are up to (in semi real time).

  • It would be great to have an open-source, open-standards, distributed social-networking system to replace Facebook. Except that when you mention SMTP, I shudder to think of all the spam that such a system would make possible. I get zero spam at facebook right now, so I can see why some people seem to prefer to communicate through facebook than through email now.

    I hope that this new concept would be engineered from the ground up to never allow spam, but that seems like a tough thing to do without an absolute

  • Facebook could be made completely open and still be the only really valuable social networking site out there. Because FB isn't about the technology at all, it's about the database. Only FB has the most users, therefore the highest chance you'll be able to find your friends on it. And there is no way FB will share that data, even when using open protocols.

    Even when open standards are realised for poking, wall-writing, liking etc. who will store the userdata to make these functions of any value?

  • A lot of people don't use anything else but Facebook. A vast majority of the people I know and want to connect with are on Facebook because it's easier for them and everybody they know is on it, as well. It's an endless cycle.

    Why would I give up living in a walled garden just to venture out into a vast desert?

  • by jmyers (208878) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:09AM (#33069410)

    Relating Facebook to its features and applications and how they could be replaced is missing the point. Facebook is all about the contact list. People will not move away from it and lose their contacts and seamless communication. i.e. importing the contacts somewhere else just adds complexity.

    Like all things FB will eventually die but it will take some killer app that no one has seen yet, not just duplication of features.

    Another way it may die is through a really bad event like major identity theft or a really nasty virus that causes people to flock away from it. Or possibly a bad DDOS attack that brings it down for an extended period.

  • by prefec2 (875483) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:56AM (#33070154)

    First, I have to disagree. Facebook and AOL are two different situations. Facebook has a massive user base and it has a lot of gravity sucking in a lot of other people. Even though users have multiple accounts in different other social network platforms. Why is that so? Because these other platforms provide special services in certain domains. For example linked is not there to share you latest dog or pussy or "I am so drunk, look i fell in a pool and hit my head" photos.

    AOL on the other side was a mee too e-mail and content-service. However, many people lived outside of AOL. And the user base outside of AOL was growing faster than AOL itself.

    Second, I have to agree. Facebook alienated many people with its behavior. And as a commercial company they cannot stop, as their business model is based on selling your private information and information based on massive data mining on personal information. And while people have learned (at least partially) that it is better to control your personal information, they will be eager to switch to another service. For instance a distributed one. but only if it is as usable as FB.

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