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Where's "Networking" in Today's Social Web?

Reading David Dahl's post on "antisocial networking", I finally found a way to express what's bothering me with today's "Social Web" (no, I don't call it "Web 2.0") services:

People, and even the services themselves, talk about them as "Social Networking" but all I see is monolithic, non-networked single-corporate-hosted blobs.

Where is the network of independently operated Facebook servers that are all can easily communicate with each other but are not in control of one giant operator that has an unclear objective?

Where are the same networks for twittering, sharing personal map data (think "Google My Maps"), videos, photos?

Where are the messaging services that connect social networking messages with instant messages and email?

If those services were on independently operated but interoperable services like blogs or the original web, there wouldn't be a few large operators in charge of all datamining, we wouldn't need to fear that one service goes down because its operator goes bankrupt or some parts of the service go down because it's sold or even one company going towards a data monopoly by acquiring one social web service after the other (see Google buying twitter, etc.).

I want control of my data (e.g. by hosting a good amount of things myself) but still have all the cool tagging stuff and other awesomeness out there being connected with it. But all I see is monolithic services instead of real social networks.

No, I don't have a Facebook, Twitter or Flickr account - yet. Even in 2009. The thoughts above are probably the most rational expression of some part of the uncertain feelings that drive me to still appear so much "backwards". I really care about the open Internet, but that includes open networking, and I still have some problems seeing that in those services.

What about you?

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on April 10th, 2009 21:24 | Tags: Mozilla, open networks, Social Web, Web 2.0 | 8 comments | TrackBack



Tony Mechelynck

from Brussels, Belgium

Networking: not social yet?
Let's see the bright side of things, and hope that the interoperativity of all those services is at a "not yet" point in time, i.e., to use your parallel, where the Net was when, at a time many of us know of only by hearsay, Compuserve, Arpanet, Fidonet, et al., were all distinct services, each with separate access, not (or only rarely) free of charge, and with no common transparent interconnection protocol. I mean, a time when people had separate uunet, Compuserve, etc., accounts, and you could only reach them through the one with which _you_ were interconnected, or by going through nonobvious interconnection "bridges".

Though if you ask me honestly, I don't know when (if ever) the "social" transition from corporate to plebe-owned will happen, or even whether it'll be in my lifetime — or in your probably longer one.
2009-04-11 01:20

Anonymous guest

2009-04-11 08:38


I am trying to even think of examples where this has happened..
Even instant messengers haven't had much of a history of inter operating.. AIM, MSN, YIM, ICQ are all pretty separate standards.. it wasn't until a year or two that YIM and MSN could merge their buddy lists.

I think from a service provider standpoint.. I would like to be able to control all of it so that if there was a hack or ID theft.. they could control it and know how it all happened and to prevent spoofing.

If somebody wanted to post pics and notes and music and stuff to an open networking thing.. and everybody stuff just sorta meshed together.. then if somebody on your friends got hacked.. they could spam your post.. go about inserting things that could propagate like a worm.

Also.. how would you render such a thing? "This Open Source Networking Format is only compatible with IE 8 or above with Flash" ? Cause the standards and codes for stuff to communicate would be pretty hard if the browser couldn't support the coding.

I think that if you wanted an open networking format.. You would need to skip the browser and use an app.. You could open AIM, MSN, or YIM, and it would find all the bulletins and pictures and discussions associated with everybody on your buddy list. and then the messenger could throw the updates on an extra window.

I should probably have patented that concept.. because now I think I have an awesome idea.
2009-04-11 09:18



@anonymous guest:
Where is the "My Maps" feature on OSM? You know, I have been contributing substantial parts in my home town to OSM and other small things wherever I go (just spent about 1.5h yesterday with creating/improving some OSM data), but things like "places I was on in this holiday" or "important spots when doing Berlin sightseeing on my MAOW stay" are not common data to be stored with the real street data on OSM, it deserves something like Google has done with "My Maps". How can I get those on OSM?

It's not like my browser can read IMAP, the Facebook database or Google map databases right now, you know. It's websites that know how to talk to those and represent them in the browser. And if the services were networked, it still would be websites that pull things together to interact with them. Of course, it can be non-website applications as well if the data is networked the way I think it should be.

Interestingly, I watched what Tim Berners-Lee said about "linked data" yesterday evening - after writing this blog entry ;-)
2009-04-11 12:48


from the US

Well, those sites aren't really worth joining, at least not for someone like me: I have no friends and people can't stand me for very long, so there's little point in clogging up the system with me (I usually keep my profiles hidden or private).

That said, there is some level of data sharing. You can put Twitter updates on Facebook. In fact, nearly everything integrates with Facebook (except its bitter rival, MySpace, which I think is probably going the way of the dinosaur). MySpace does use the MSN IM protocol for chat. LiveJournal uses Jabber. A lot of sites used to feature Flash chatrooms, but they're now going for well-defined protocols or just using AJAX.
2009-04-11 17:07


from Rome, Italy

Wow, finally someone that says it all! I 100% agree with you and I'm really shocked about respected Web professionals and developers jumping on these closed services. Yes, these are just like binary blobs. Nobody seem to think about developing standards that enable the "social networking" on different servers and websites, the way the Web was supposed to work.
2009-04-11 23:07


links between sites and a site YOU control
Welcome to the club. Three years ago I noticed "it's one social network, not 1000 sites":
   The Web itself is THE social network. You put something on it, I link to it. It's unnatural and unconvincing to restrict social networks within it to a particular site. It's entirely possible and straightforward for my link to indicate the type of relationship: she's my friend, this is a reply, this is a review, etc. and for us both to keep track of the link.
So someone should develop a system that logs in to Facebook/MySpace/LiveJournal/Twitter/Flickr/and private blogs as you, and produces its own feed of items. Also your web publishing system should a) identify the item to which you're responding and b) allow you to restrict every item you post to certain subsets of people (identified by their OpenIDs) instead of the social network's RIDICULOUS one-size-fits-all notion of your "friends".

Over time people will realize "My friends and associates are talking about me outside the walled garden of Facebook/MySpace/LiveJournal/Twitter/Flickr" and will adopt these systems that live outside the walled gardens.
2009-04-13 09:54

Anonymous guest


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