Re: Alternative to Facebook
Can I just counterpoint?
Chiming in here. I’m waiting for @apeatling to also talk more about this issue. Somebody mentioned DiSo. As I understood it, DiSo was more than just trying to systemically build distributed social networking out of WordPress or BuddyPress, but trying to do so through the establishment of more widely accepted protocols, i.e., the “social stack,” which included things like OpenID, OAuth, PortableContacts, and so forth. (“Social stack” is less of a buzz word today, but that was part of the beginning.)
I partly agree with the sentiment about WordPress needing implicit ground-up structural changes for the implementation of better social protocols, however, part of the problem @ the time actually had more to do with a lack of experience as well the protocols were still being nailed down. For example, we’re entering a second phase in all of this, as OAuth 2.0 is in the process of being released as a spec, and a 2nd iteration of OpenID will be issued as OpenID Connect — part of the problem also in the first place was these two protocols weren’t designed at the same time, so they didn’t work together conjunctively as well, but phase two here has the benefit of a foundation, so they can now build off each other. (See http://openidconnect.com/ and http://www.webmonkey.com/2010/05/new-openid-connect-proposal-could-solve-many-of-the-social-webs-woes/ )
There were also several other issues in flux, a major one being discovery. XAuth is providing a temporary solution for this going forward. Other less-known, but increasingly important protocols matured or are maturing rather rapidly: Salmon, PubSubHubbub, Activity Streams, to name a few.
That said, I think @Jeff_Sayre has been a little bit of a voice in the wilderness on all these matters. I just read this blog post of his http://jeffsayre.com/2010/05/15/repackaging-the-promise-of-the-social-semantic-web/ and it hit the nail ON THE HEAD for what’s staring everyone in the face. Sometimes things are so obvious that it’s hard to perceive them, you know?
That being said, can I just make one plea? Sometimes I hear a lot of the main BuddyPress developers intimate that they don’t really like the protocols being developed toward this end…the technology is wrong, etc., etc., and then there’s sometimes talk of how to do it right or how to do it better than the social stack.
I don’t involve myself *too much* in development here @ BuddyPress central, but I’ve been following development from the beginning, perhaps most especially with an eye toward distributing the social network beyond just one BuddyPress silo, and I do have a fairly solid view of the history of both the social stack and BuddyPress.
Can I just offer that we try and go with the flow of the protocols already being worked on in other arenas? The Internet Identity Workshop is taking place tomorrow (Mon. – Wed), it’s 10th session in just five years, and so much has happened and will continue to happen — just look at what’s on the agenda: http://iiw.idcommons.net/Proposed_Topics_IIW10 (Main site is here: http://www.internetidentityworkshop.com/ ) It’s true that these tend to be a lot of big players, i.e., Google, Facebook, MySpace, and so forth. But a lot of the people @ this particular workshop started out working small (like on DiSo), and have the interest of the open source community in mind. I sort of feel like I’m preaching to the choir, but I do think it’s really important that we all not forget the work that has already been done towards establishing solid protocols. In other words, instead of bitching about how to do things right, I think we ought to come to the IIW table, so to speak. These new internet standards have come a long way since then, and we still have a long way to go, so lets help make that happen.