What with FriendFeed selling
out to Facebook, the less those of us who have been harping on about user autonomy, self-hosted or user-owned apps and technology look like online equivalent of survivalists.
The prospect of a distributed, interoperable, self-hosted network of publishing, reading and discussion tools is nothing new – but the idea is gaining a lot more support as more people react to recent news like FriendFeed’s sale to Facebook, Tr.im’s up and down and Twitter’s denial of service attacks. The tide may not be turning, but there’s sure to be some new waves of innovation that come out of this period of frustration.
Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read Write Web does a good job of explaining why blogging and a WordPress type platform won’t be enough to replace services like Twitter. Yes, it publishing & distribution vs communication and relationships.
If we all had a little piece of our microblogging network on our own servers and they spoke to each other, that couldn’t happen.
We’d also own our own data, our archives, our interface design and more. It would be like publishing little messages… like grown ups.
Indeed. Identi.ca has been designed to do precisely that – though you don’t get your stuff automatically, unless you federate and use your own server to install Laconica but it’s already a giant leap for microblogging.
There are two more interesting items mentioned in the post – The Push Button Web and the DiSo project. We have looked at both and in short, the first depends too much on an intermediary, namely PubSubHubBub (obviously a lot depends on who can be such a hub and then the reality of who would be) and the other depends too much on a new XML based data standard.
Anyway, what’s worth noting is this conclusion:
Are all of these circumstances and conversations going to push the social web over the edge, toward a more distributed and less centralized model? Probably not in a big way, immediately, but we’re pretty sure that some interesting innovation is going to come out of this. Dissatisfied engineers, working on a problem that a lot of people are interested in, can produce some fun and important work.
Dissatisfied engineers and hopefully growing number of users, might provide momentum for an alternative, distributed approach to online communication and data logistics. This is where Mine! comes in. And although Mine! hasn’t been conceived for communication, it will also serve as a platform that belongs to the user.
Alec often describes Mine! as “asocial” software, not because it cannot be networked and connected to others but because it offers the user the option to withdraw from the network and join on his/her own terms.