Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 6th Feb 2014 22:20 UTC
Internet & Networking

Speaking with Wired editor David Rowan at an event launching the magazine's March issue, Tim Berners-Lee said that although part of this is about keeping an eye on for-profit internet monopolies such as search engines and social networks, the greatest danger is the emergence of a balkanised web.

"I want a web that's open, works internationally, works as well as possible and is not nation-based," Berners-Lee told the audience, which included Martha Lane Fox, Jake Davis (AKA Topiary) and Lily Cole. He suggested one example to the contrary: "What I don't want is a web where the Brazilian government has every social network's data stored on servers on Brazilian soil. That would make it so difficult to set one up."

A government never gives up a power it already has. The control it currently has over the web will not be relinquished.

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A lot of good points.

I don't think we need a P2P social network. I don't think that will work. What we do need, is a decentralized social network. This needs to be similar to the way email works. Every one can setup his own email server (or you can ask for an account on someone else's email server) and every email server can talk to every other email server. So that means we would need an open standard protocol for "social network" servers to talk to each other.

You would also need to provide a solid reference implementation that would be usable on production servers.

Ideally you would be able to find thousands of people or companies willing to host "social network" server. Next to that, ideally, you would also be able to hype up the product and warm up millions of people about it that are eager to create accounts and use this new social network when it launches.

Social networks only work when everyone you know is using it. The power of Facebook (I don't like it) is that nearly everyone in your circle of friends is using it. It would be extremely hard to dethrone facebook.

I always say that if the internet wasn't created/grown in the context of universities, something like email would not exist. Companies would much more prefer a messaging system that is only usable with an account on their own servers. Companies much more favor closed, locked-in services.

And still... "decentralized" is the core of the internet. The internet would simply not work without the decentralized services that it's based on.

Btw, ever noticed that practically *all* services that one can register for on the internet ask for an email-address during registration? You know why? Because it allows anyone with an email-address to communicate with anyone else who has an email address, no matter on which server the email is hosted, no matter to which person or company that server belongs. As a user, I can choose with which company I host my email, or I can even chose to host it on my own server.. it does not matter: anyone else with an email address will be able to communicate with me.

Btw, I know there have been some efforts for decentralized social networks, and the open protocols that go with it. None of them actually seem to be used by any non-negligible number of users however. Diaspora probably made the most public noise about it, but from what I read had a disappointing implementation.

Either way, I can only hope "decentralized" protocols will make a come-back. I do doubt it however. The only ones that have enough power to push that kind of thing, are big companies... and it's not in their interest to do so. Imagine that Microsoft, Google, Facebook would use a decentralized chat protocol? The sad thing is that for as far as I know that both Google and Facebook chat protocols are actually built on top of jabber, but they disabled the decentralized behaviour (federation) on purpose. (Jabber is a decentralized protocol...)

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