web: Why is there Facebook at all?

Social networking sites are weird. All they do is host shared bits of data between groups of people they mislabel as “friends”. But why on earth do we store our  private thoughts, pictures, and information on a central site that hands all this over to marketers and government agencies? For decades we’ve sent e-mail privately amongst ourselves, yet dress communication up slightly differently as a status update and some comments, and we uncritically hand everything over to Mark Zuckerberg.

It doesn’t have to be that way. We should all be doing direct person-to-person social networking.  Your toaster cable modem, wireless router, or smartphone is powerful enough to send and receive encrypted pictures, status updates, and comments to/from lists of people you control, then your browser can assemble your own “Top News” page from the bits of data. The data is independent of the presentation, so you could have some browser pages (call them “web apps”, but you don’t need a network connection) that show messages and responses, others that show a visual timeline, others that show all the links… The great thing about this is that if your computer crashes, your toaster cheap networked gizmo can just contact all your associates and reassemble the pictures, comments, messages you’ve shared with them.

Together we can kill Facebook, we just need to zz[CONTENT DELETED BY mzuckerberg~~~privilegesTerminated]

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6 Responses to web: Why is there Facebook at all?

  1. Danny Dice says:

    Have thoroughly checked my toaster but can’t see where to insert the pictures for encrypting. x

  2. David says:

    Yep, this would be really nice. Let’s all use our toasters as social servers before Facebook creates the members-only internet within the internet.

  3. skierpage says:

    To be clearer, I changed “toaster” to “cable modem, wireless router, or smartphone”, i.e. you already own $40 networked devices capable of exchanging updates with your associates.

    It’s not a fantasy. The #freedentity project proposes Privacy Respecting Router software package that would run out your router, and the DIASPORA* project encourages you to run their software on your own “pod” in their decentralized social network.

    It’s a hard multi-level problem, starting with naming. Most devices on the Internet don’t have a stable address — anything can contact facebook.com, but how does my “toaster” bypass the central server to directly contact your “toaster”? SocialNetworkEngine.DannyDice.someregion.countrycode? I pay to have the domain skierpage.com, but it’s not associated with my home computers.

  4. skierpage says:

    There’s also the FreedomBox project.

  5. Cory says:

    S, I miss your sense of humor. Perhaps you can teach your toaster to do standup comedy, which can then be ported to the toasters of all of your “friends”.

  6. skierpage says:

    Turns out Opera has the same idea, though it controls the address http://desk.skierpage.operaunite.com/. Fascinating:

    “Opera Unite allows you to serve or share your data, such as photos, music, notes and other files, easily and directly from your own computer. You can even run chat rooms and host entire Web sites. Opera Unite puts the power of a Web server in your browser, giving you greater privacy and flexibility …”

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