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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snowbender
Member since:
2006-05-04

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...)

Reply Parent Score: 3

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

What we do need, is a decentralized social network.


There are already several ones out there. I have not tried any of them nor do I remember any names, but there's always at least one new contender announced every year.

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.


It's not much of a social network if you can only find people there who you have manually added. You see, if it worked like that all the parties that wanted to see each other would always have to manually establish the connection first, and that kind of removes a lot of the "social" from it. Also, with large friend networks it would quickly become a major drag on the networks, what with hundreds or even thousands of connections.

Ideally you would be able to find thousands of people or companies willing to host "social network" server.


And now your data would again be at the mercy of others.

(Jabber is a decentralized protocol...)


The protocol is actually XMPP, not Jabber. Jabber is a misnomer.

Edited 2014-02-07 22:06 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

snowbender Member since:
2006-05-04

It's not much of a social network if you can only find people there who you have manually added. You see, if it worked like that all the parties that wanted to see each other would always have to manually establish the connection first, and that kind of removes a lot of the "social" from it. Also, with large friend networks it would quickly become a major drag on the networks, what with hundreds or even thousands of connections.


When I try to find back an old connection, I typically type his or her name in Google and see if I can find him or her. I don't log in on facebook and check there, then log in on Google+ and check there, and then once again login on LinkedIn and check there.

I assume that on a social network, one typically wants some "public" information available for everyone and other information only available for people that are trusted. The public information would be discovered by search engines.

Isn't it like that nowadays too...? If you want to discover information about people that are more privacy-minded, you'll have to first manually establish a connection with those people?


"Ideally you would be able to find thousands of people or companies willing to host "social network" server.

And now your data would again be at the mercy of others.
"

I think you get me wrong. I basically want federation to work. That means that every individual can host his own server with his own data, or can create an account on someone else's (individual or company) server. But every individual is free to choose a server that he or she trusts. The same way that everyone is free to chose an email account on a server that you trust. You dislike Google, then you are free to chose an email account with Microsoft for example, or run your own email server. None of those options is gonna limit in any way who you can email to. (or actually, nowadays it can limit you because of the rules that companies like Google and Microsoft use to limit spam....)

Aside from that: right from the moment you share any piece of data with anyone, you are at the mercy of others. You can take all the precautions you want, but as soon as you send data out, you're at the mercy of others.

When you send email, you are at the mercy of the people that maintain that server you send the email too. The same goes for XMPP. Those servers can also contain software to collect information on you, even though you don't have an account in there. For example if you email a lot to people that do have a google or hotmail address....


The protocol is actually XMPP, not Jabber. Jabber is a misnomer.

Well... I think Jabber is the original name of the protocol, but you are right.

Reply Parent Score: 4