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Breaking Open Facebook With FOSS 147

Posted by kdawson
from the get-out-of-the-silo-free dept.
NewsCloud writes "Since last December, Facebook has grown from 12 to 47 million users and third-party developers have launched more than 6,000 applications with its API. While privacy advocates have been concerned about Google for the past several years, most of us are just beginning to comprehend Facebook's growing impact on who, when, what and how we connect with friends. Microsoft's recent $240 million investment in the company gives it all the capital it needs for further growth. Last August, Wired published two unusual stories describing how consumers might link together a variety of third-party services to emulate Facebook, and ultimately calling on the open-source software community to build alternatives to the service. Inspired in part by Wired, I've posted some ideas describing what would be needed for an open source architecture for social networking."
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Breaking Open Facebook With FOSS

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  • Screw Facebook (Score:1, Interesting)

    by moogied (1175879)
    Man.. they got this thing that has vampries/werewolves/zombies right? And you can "bite" all your friends and such.

    It sounds great! But EVERYTIME they fight eachother you get a notice of it. So I log in every morning(at work of course) to find out theres about 35 fights to go through.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @06:38PM (#21177589)
    and every single one drives me nuts. No, I don't want to post on your fucking SUPERWALL, be in your TOP FRIENDS list, or answer pointless quizzes.

    There should be a way to turn off app requests...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @07:32PM (#21178117)
      Personally, I look forward to a FOSS facebook clone. It will have the fun and human warmth of LKML, the ease of use of vi, and the male-female ratio of an 18th century ship of the line. **bliss**
    • There is: tell your friends you don't want any requests, and unfriend anyone who sends you one anyway.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by JensenDied (1009293)
      Its alright this is the only application worth having
      Dramatic Whitespace [facebook.com]

      Profile too cluttered? Try this application: the aptly-titled "Dramatic Whitespace" will fill your profile page with copious amounts of dramatic whitespace (or a swath of any color) for the viewing pleasure of yourself and others.
    • by AnyoneEB (574727)
      There is an option to completely disable applications in the privacy settings. I assume that would also disable requests from applications.
    • by enoz (1181117)
      Hear hear.

      You can disable email notification [account >> notifications] but there does not appear to be any preference for disabling those bloody app requests.

      As others have said, fakebook app requests are the new Spam.
    • by m0nkyman (7101)
      I'll agree that 99% are crap, but you'll have to take scrabulous [facebook.com]from my cold, dead hands ...

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @06:41PM (#21177617)

    While privacy advocates have been concerned about Google for the past several years, most of us are just beginning to comprehend Facebook's growing impact on who, when, what and how we connect with friends.


    I don't know what "us" you are talking about, but I've realized for years that Facebook has no effect on who, when, what, and how I connect with friends, and that's unlikely to change anytime in the near future.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @07:04PM (#21177841)
      Note: Posts like the parent? The reason it'll never work.

      Getting open source developers to even *care* about social networking would be a small miracle. Getting them to actually start developing code for one a step above that, and getting them to all agree on the same protocol/interface simply impossible.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DragonWriter (970822)

        Note: Posts like the parent? The reason it'll never work.

        As the author of the post, I'll disagree with that.

        Getting open source developers to even *care* about social networking would be a small miracle.

        Hey, I think you are misreading my comment (which was just about the sweep of the description in TFS) if you think I don't care about social networking; I've been kind of idly interested in open (both in terms of "free/open source" and in terms of "freely interconnecting) frameworks for it for a while. Ther

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by blhack (921171) *

        Getting open source developers to even *care* about social networking would be a small miracle. Getting them to actually start developing code for one a step above that, and getting them to all agree on the same protocol/interface simply impossible.

        Don't speak for all of us. Personally i think that social networking sites are kindof neat. I use facebook all time. Its a great little time waster for when I'm dizzy from staring at consoles full of perl code all day :). On top of that, it lets me keep in light contact with my friends that are still in school.
        I really think this is a generation thing. While previous generations had telephones and "little black books" we have myspace and buddy-lists. Things like facebook, or myspace aren't really tha

      • And... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by msimm (580077)
        That's a bad thing? Frankly I expect to see a lot of these communities come and go. The only thing I find a little alarming is the hype that surrounds them. If the open source community wants to jump in, great and if not, great. Frankly I don't see the difference. Maybe after the hype has died down some of these sites will have hit on something substantial that can be wrapped into the kind of utility generally provided by the developer community, but until then all I see is a series of social and commercial
      • by lexluther (529642)
        Getting them to actually start developing code for one a step above that, and getting them to all agree on the same protocol/interface simply impossible.

        This is wrong as evidenced by the fact that as soon as there was a usable API there were 6000 silly applications possibly none of which earned anyone who developed them any money. They probably developed them for the same reasons OSS developers write code.

        What has been consistently true is that if you give people a platform and invite them to develop
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Ah. The fact that they don't care is why no one ever wrote GAIM, Jabber, IRC, the old BBS's, Usenet, or mailing lists.

        Getting them to agree on format is admittedly impossible, but it's obvious that they do, in fact, care.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bazman (4849)
      I love the little tagline on facebook: "join a network to see people who live, study, or work around you". There's me thinking you could just walk outside your front door, or take a stroll around your offices or college to do that...

      • by garbletext (669861) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @08:45PM (#21178589)
        then you wouldn't know whether they liked Britney spears or not, or be able to see 100 drunken photos of them before you even said hello.
        • by c_forq (924234)
          Well you could... but it would take a lot more work and you would be a lot creepier.

          Crap, I think this comment just put me on a watchlist somewhere.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mini me (132455)
        It's amazing how often I've looked at some random stranger's profile on Facebook and then ran into the very same person in real life shortly thereafter. What I wonder is if I've seen these people before and only took notice because of their Facebook profile, or if the encounter was purely a coincidence every single time.
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @07:43PM (#21178203)
      I agree. I was a facebook user for a while, but after being kicked off (in a blatant act of censorship, as far as I can tell), I've noticed something: life without facebook is no different than life with facebook. Facebook serves a need for communicating with friends, but so does e-mail, instant messaging, and the phone. 80's-style BBS's served the same purpose, and I would say they qualify as "social networking."
    • by rickb928 (945187) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @08:07PM (#21178405) Homepage Journal
      How will I ever get along without Facebook?

      Just fine. I am, in fact. Facebook is supremely unimportant to me, and to most everyone I know. In fact, even the people I know who think they are 'active' on Facebook will admit that it's annoying, intrusive, and they use it less and less.

      Facebook is growing, I bet, mostly due to new converts coming on faster than the jaded leave.

      This will change. Buy your stock in facebook as damned soon as you can, cause it will go down in a flash. Or get bought by M$, and then it's too late.

      Ugh.

      • by FleaPlus (6935) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @09:01PM (#21178707) Journal
        Just fine. I am, in fact. Facebook is supremely unimportant to me, and to most everyone I know. In fact, even the people I know who think they are 'active' on Facebook will admit that it's annoying, intrusive, and they use it less and less.

        I'm guess you're not a college student, eh?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rickb928 (945187)
          Good guess.

          I'm wondering how the favorite app of college students is so darned important that it wil affect 'all of us'.

          Especially when those college students will bail on Facebook when it costs them a job.

          • Especially when those college students will bail on Facebook when it costs them a job.

            Costs them a job? We've had a couple of senior partners at the firm I'm at advocating Facebook, particularly with a view to the networking opportunities. Follow that to its potential conclusion, and you'll need a Facebook account to keep your job.

            • by rickb928 (945187)
              Alongside the stories of graduates blaming their Facebook pages for not being hired. Oh, not really. They blame the company for being too narrow-minded and basing the hiring decision on their Facebook pages, when they don't think such decisions should be based in any way on such 'recreational' pursuits or 'personal' information.

              My current employee required a background check and credit check. They interviewed my employers over the last 15 years. They did not ask if I had a Facebook page. But I was told that
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by CelticWhisper (601755)

          Maybe not, but I am, and I damn near run screaming every time I hear anyone talking about signing up for it. I have Thunderbird set to aggressively trash anything with "facebook" or "Myspace" in the subject or sender fields, and a few unlucky souls (mostly people who knew me in high school) have already found out the hard way just how averse I am to "social networking."

          I have a Blogger blog, I have E-mail, and I have my realtime chat protocols (Jabber and IRC by choice, AIM because I can't get anybody el

    • by AnyoneEB (574727)
      Really? I find Facebook is useful as an address book. I no longer have to ask every person I meet for IM/cell/e-mail. Other than that, it seems pretty well ignoreable.
  • Decentralisation (Score:5, Informative)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @06:41PM (#21177623)
    I think the secret to efficient social networking is decentralization, both of content and of standards. This is achieved by the semantic web... Take a look at FOAF, it's a simple exemple of how it could work. Host a RDF/XML file anywhere describing your connections and you're done. Extend the kind of vocabulary describing your information and your relation to people at anytime using OWL.

    RDF and OWL provide ways to develop a huge social networks with different features, different takes on it , with decentralized development and decentralized content while still maintaining interoperability. Support the semantic web it rocks.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_Description_Framework [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_Ontology_Language [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOAF_(software) [wikipedia.org]
    • by foobsr (693224)
      I think the secret to efficient social networking is decentralization, both of content and of standards.

      Same thoughts here. But you still will not beat power laws [shirky.com]. Perhaps adding user controlled/hosted 'semi-intelligent-agents' (beyond similarity metrics) as an aid to relation building would help.

      CC.
      • Re:Decentralisation (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Arthur B. (806360) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @07:13PM (#21177929)
        The point is not to actually have decentralization but rather the possibility to have it. To take an analogy think of open source projects, the point is not to fork them - on the contrary - but the ability to do so creates incentive that affect the result even though it's only one trunk.

        Once a standard is accepted, there are less network effects. Think of email for example, since SMTP has such a long history it means almost anyone can have an email server. Sure gmail, yahoo mail hotmail or whatever will represent most of the traffic but it doesn't matter. Contrast this with IM... lack of interoperability creates huge network effect, the switching cost is very high because you need to coordinate with all of your contacts to switch.

        If social network rely on semantic web languages, the competition between websites providing hosting / editing of information will be much more efficient than in the current system... outdated network won't die, they will just merge with the additional vocabulary from newer trendier sites. Innovative networks won't starve because they'll be able to piggy back on existing networks.

        Eventually, websites will have value not by being "the biggest" or "the one where most of your friends are" but by providing the best description of your relationships with people or the most useful tools to extract the most relevant information out of your data.
    • by NoTheory (580275)
      Actually decentralization makes open social networking impossible. Social networks are inherently closed, and members opt in. Even if you can go trapezing through social networks collecting data, it is most certainly a violation of someone's privacy to copy their data without their permission to a new location, and your new tool is DOA if you have to get every member's approval to free their data. If you can't copy their data out, your new network is also screwed, because you'll have dead pointers all ov
      • Sorry, i should be clearer. Decentralization without 100% open access to outside networks makes any effort to "free" data from proprietary networks impossible. What i describe could be considered decentralized in a sense (in that parts of a universal network would be owned by different entities), but there would have to be agreement on what sort of interface would be used for reciprocal transactions (friending across disparate pars of the network), so it would still need a centralized standards body to de
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by davidsyes (765062)
      Looks like a lot of nice theory and such, but WHERE is there a working prototype, something we can sink our teeth into, sniff, or hug?

      What the thing might have or should have -- and this will hurt feelings -- is a measurement to show relationship (whatever kind it is) based on communication instances, volume, and more. Obviously, this means reading email between senders. I would not say go as far as posting the content.

      But, say these "actors":

      John
      Vinh
      Mary
      Ving
      Oster
      Oscar
      Susan
      Kumiko
      Davinder

      KNOW each other and
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      Ok, so let's say I buy into your glorious semantic web future, complete with acronyms that seem like that belong in a glowing star at the end of Batman's fist (FOAF!)...

      What prevents your system from becoming clogged with spammers/camwhores/all the other shit MySpace has in 5 days flat?
      • by Arthur B. (806360)
        Reification.

        The fact that every RDF statement can be used as an entity in other statement. It is not about saying
        X is friend with Y but

        http://slashdot.org/~Arthur+B./ [slashdot.org] claims (X is friend with Y)

        from here you can build networks of trust. I trust statements made by this person, he trusts statement made by this person and so on. You obtain information with a certain degree of trust.

        That prevents a good deal of spamming since pushing information requires past credibility. As for cam whores and the like, you don
    • I read this article by Brad Fitz a few months back.
      http://bradfitz.com/social-graph-problem/ [bradfitz.com]

      ... If I had to declare the problem statement succinctly, it'd be: People are getting sick of registering and re-declaring their friends on every site., but also: Developing "Social Applications" is too much work.

      Facebook's answer seems to be that the world should just all be Facebook apps. While Facebook is an amazing platform and has some amazing technology, there's a lot of hesitation in the developer / "Web

    • by radarsat1 (786772)

      Yes! I so called this [slashdot.org].
  • by sethstorm (512897) * on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @06:42PM (#21177633) Homepage
    It's about time that there was some way to focus on the social network you're already with versus wading through "invitation-only hype" to get there.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ThirdPrize (938147)
      How about a meta-social-network. You create an account and it registers with all the popular social networking sites. it then meta moderates your friends, invites, spam, etc into one central thingy. Then you can just focus on your friends whoever they are registered with.
  • Privacy? Facebook? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @06:44PM (#21177655)

    API. While privacy advocates have been concerned about Google for the past several years, most of us are just beginning to comprehend Facebook's growing impact on who, when, what and how we connect with friends

    Especially since we just learned that Facebook considers it a "perk" to allow their employees to surf people's profiles, read their email (which they're pushing HARD to get people to use as a sort of bastardized webmail) and see their "private" photos and such.

    Oh yeah, and get your password, log in to your account, and upload explicit photos. [valleywag.com]

    • by Zironic (1112127)
      I thought serious companies we're supposed to not give employees access to customer passwords.
      • I thought serious websites were supposed to store passwords as a hash, not as plaintext. So you can't just "look up" someone's password even if you have access to the database. This story is poorly concocted fiction.
        • If you have access to the db you could just change the damn picture without going through the web site layer..the whole story is bull
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RobBebop (947356)
      Centralized data source? The operators of the data source are always a security concern. They need to be both honest (and not invade your privacy) and noble (and not sell your data to third parties for a profit). It seems like pointing this out is the focus of the article, but it is not new information. Decentralized data source? You operate what data goes where, but it is a much harder system to support. The reason MySpace and Facebook are popular is because they are easy-to-use and non-technical pe
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ScrewMaster (602015)
        With Microsoft, maybe it is time to delete anything personal from the site.

        If you already put anything on Facebook that really shouldn't be there, it is far too late to take it down now. People don't seem to grasp the Ollie North effect: just because you "deleted" something doesn't mean it was removed from existence. Google won't even guarantee that it can permanently delete anything, and any major site is going to retain archived records for an indefinite period, which means it can still be distributed
        • by RobBebop (947356)

          People don't seem to grasp the Ollie North effect: just because you "deleted" something doesn't mean it was removed from existence.

          No, it is understood that deleting is not the same as destruction... but it will almost always mean that an extra effort would be needed to get access to the supposedly purged information. Even if getting access to the data is only a matter of adding an "IS_DELETED='Y'" term to a SQL Query, the extra effort will be a big enough barrier against most attempts to access my data.

          • Obviously you understand that but I will bet dollars to doughnuts that the vast majority of Facebook users believe they have the power to remove that information permanently with a few mouse clicks. They don't. And if the Feds come looking for information such barriers don't matter much ... if the data is available the company will be required to produce it, and with a National Security Letter nobody will ever know.

            Oh I know, it's all a matter of risk vs. reward: personally I don't think that social netw
    • by FleaPlus (6935)
      Especially since we just learned that Facebook considers it a "perk" to allow their employees to surf people's profiles, read their email (which they're pushing HARD to get people to use as a sort of bastardized webmail) and see their "private" photos and such.

      Oh yeah, and get your password, log in to your account, and upload explicit photos.


      Do you have anything to back up any of those claims, presumably articles which don't have the subtitle "rumormonger"?
    • by langelgjm (860756)

      Hm. You post a link to a site named "Rumormonger," where the article's writer clearly states "Truth be told, I'm a little skeptical of our tipster's tale on one count." Way to be sensational there. Also, no, "Facebook" does not consider it a "perk" to allow their employees to do the things you mention - the employees themselves consider it a perk. You make it sound like it's company policy and listed in the brochures.

      What is about 8000 times more likely is that some idiot left their Facebook account logged

  • congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <<circletimessquare> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @06:46PM (#21177669) Homepage Journal
    if you want convenience, you don't get privacy

    if you want privacy, you don't get convenience

    and some people are shocked, shocked i tell you, to find out that a lot of people don't treat their private life with the security protocols of a swiss bank. because they simply don't care

    next nonissue please
    • by RobBebop (947356)

      if you want convenience, you don't get privacy

      if you want privacy, you don't get convenience

      This argument is faulty. It sounds like a pretty nifty contradiction, but it simply is not true. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. You *can* have both convenience and privacy, but much like a software project that meets the requirements *and* is on time... it is going to cost more.

      and some people are shocked, shocked i tell you, to find out that a lot of people don't treat their private life with the security protocols of a swiss bank. because they simply don't care

      "Privacy data" means different things to different people in different situations. Some people are very comfortable sharing intimate details with strangers. Some people have trouble discussing their feelings wi

      • sometimes, privacy is of secondary importance

        a good example being: you just provided one above, thanks

        a lot of people, slashdot being hotbed of such privacy fundamentalists, are of this weird hyperactive hysterical panic over every privacy transgression: showing your receipt when you leave a store, cameras in the innercity, etc.

        in their mind, they can't balance some prudent, common sense situations where, frankly, your privacy doesn't matter. at all

        privacy is AN issue to consider on complex topics. it is not THE issue. sometimes, privacy is the most important concern. and other times, privacy ranks lower in importance than other concerns. like before you get on an airplane. there are people in this world who want to blow up airplanes. therefore, people have to submit to privacy intrusions before getting on airplanes. beginning and end of story

        but you listen to some people, and it's like the second coming of hitler, the shocktroops of a new fascism. well yeah, if you got your social education from a comic book and you are a paranoid schizophrenic, i guess
        • ... until somebody abuses it in ways you did not think about.

          I always throw this little cautionary tale in these situations: the way Augusto Pinochet found the most prominent communists in Chile after he took power was by going to the CP's headquarters and confiscating the party's membership lists (addresses, workplaces, even photographs, all was there).

          The party's faithful clearly believed that providing all their private data was a non issue, what they failed to see is that information can be used in way
          • let me illustrate for you how hysteria and panic and fear get turned into slippery slope arguments:

            if you let homosexual men amrry, next you will have to make pedophilia, rape, incest, bestiality and necrophilia legal

            do you believe that? i will take a guess and say no

            such a thought, is, of crouse, completel bullshit: people can tell the difference between a gay man and a corpse fucker

            but in the mind of some social conservatives, THEY REALLY BELIEVE THIS

            why? ebcause their slippery slope argument really is no
    • Oh, just wait for the next generation of malware. You think identity theft is a problem now? Wait until the spambots are good enough to interpret the whole carbon trail of data we leave behind us. We'll all wish that we'd been less.... descriptive in our social networking profiles and our blog comments.
  • Great Idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by graviplana (1160181)
    Building an Open Source version of Facebook is probably one of the smartest thing people can do right now in this Web 2.0 (*shudder*) world. More to the point, privacy advocates should be actively boycotting Facebook if they know what is good for them. I refuse to use it. The people who maintain it have too much power and it has reached a level of social and interpersonal networking utility that trumps novelty and freedom for conformity.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @07:54PM (#21178299)
      Branding & peer pressure.

      If you think millions of kids are signing up to Facebook for its function, you're probably wrong. Most likely they're doing this to be in with the groovy (or whatever they're called now) kids. That relies on branding and brand awareness.

      An OSS facebook has no branding and coolness (perhaps geekiness, but that is not cool). Just like Coke would not care about an opensource cola, Facebook does not care about an open source service.

      And do you really think that youngsters are worried about privacy?

      • I agree that branding is important. Take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joomla [wikipedia.org] to see a great example of OSS done right with a branding approach. I also agree that most young people aren't worried about privacy, like a frog in a slow boiling pot of water isn't worried about boiling to death. :D
  • Why does facebook need to be replaced by something open source? Is it offensive for them to make money?
    • It must be open source so we can figure out it's weaknesses and hack it to pieces.
    • by XoXus (12014)
      You idiot. Where in the summary, or the article, does anyone take issue with Facebook generating a profit?
    • Why does facebook need to be replaced by something open source? Is it offensive for them to make money?

      Uh, yeah. Exactly. Which is why we need an open-source replacement for MySQL, too, since it must also be offensive that MySQL AB makes money.

      Where does the idea that open source is inextricably tied to opposition to people making money come from? Certainly, that's not the reason behind IBM or Sun's open-source efforts, or lots of other companies'.

    • by davidsyes (765062)
      Because we'll NEED one. Especially since over 800 FaceBook users do NOT want microsoft's paws all over facebook:

      http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=3261815073 [facebook.com]
      ----
      Don't let microsoft buy facebook
      Business - General

      Size:
      890 members
      New:
      56 More Members

      Profile updated on Friday

      -----

      And that's not the ONLY group in Facebook now wanting ms owning or having control in some way over user information, f/b direction, etc.
    • For the same reason that having any one player, especially a commercial organisation, attain a completely dominant position is a Very Bad Thing. The canonical example is of course Microsoft. When there's lots of competition, the only way to compete is to offer your (potential) customers something better than the competition does. Once you have a massive advantage in terms of market share, you're pretty much free to do whatever boosts your own profit -- and that very rarely aligns with what your customers wo

  • XFN perhaps? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by improfane (855034) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @07:21PM (#21178009) Journal
    XFN, the XHTML Friends aims to identify relationships with links.

    Imagine if everybody had a blog that used OpenID. This could be decentralized. Friends could then login with OpenId and be identified what relationship they are with the OpenID URL from XFN.

    http://gmpg.org/xfn/ [gmpg.org]
  • Not the best idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ukpyr (53793) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @07:30PM (#21178095)
    Cloning Facebook would be pointless. Unless your providing something above and beyond what Facebook offers, why bother? Average users won't be engaged by the privacy angle and so, won't switch.

    Cool idea though. The real take away is that creating services like facebook are fairly trivial from a development standpoint. All these features are being reabsorbed by the various web app framework makers right now. Building a facebook2 should take a lot less than a quarter billion : )
    • by ZsDie (1182025)
      Agreed, using a bunch of APIs that other sites are providing make me think of the 2007 version of a website full of animated gifs. Much less how you would make this an open source project and have any sense of privacy on a scale such as facebook. Just don't see that one happening.
  • How hard would it be to get the electoral roll data and plug it into a facebook like thing. Then you could have "Friends", "Relatives" and "Colleagues". You would have everyone in there and half the really important relationships ready made for you.

    Where could you get the colleague data from? How do you know who works where?
    • Im confused as to how the electoral roll know who my friends and colleagues are? Family perhaps (based on some assumptions about histories of common last name and common address perhaps but even then the data would have to go pretty far back)
  • OpenQabal (Score:4, Informative)

    by psykocrime (61037) <mindcrimeNO@SPAMcpphacker.co.uk> on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @07:38PM (#21178179) Homepage Journal
    There are probably other FOSS projects to create a truly decentralized, federated social-networking and collaboration package, but the one I'm intimately familiar with is
    OpenQabal [java.net]. OQ is all about developing social-networking and collaboration software that puts users in control of their own information (including the much mentioned "social graph"), supports identity federation, and facilitates distributed conversations. Development is just getting started, but we're working off of a couple of existing code-bases to get a headstart.

    Disclaimer: I'm the originator, chief architect and, so far, sole developer on the project, so everything I say may be considered biased, slanted, unreliable, or whatever else your skeptical little heart pleases.
  • by Tarlus (1000874) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @07:50PM (#21178259)
    And sadly, those of us who are involved programmers in the FOSS community aren't social enough to have a Facebook profile.
  • I think I missed a boat somewhere. :)

    I don't understand the appeal of sites like "Facebook" or "Myspace". What they look like to me is web-based personal-website-creation tools. What is so interesting about a site that lets people make web sites about themselves? What am I missing? I already have a web site hosted on my own domain. Why would I want a Facebook or Myspace web site?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by psykocrime (61037)
      I don't understand the appeal of sites like "Facebook" or "Myspace". What they look like to me is web-based personal-website-creation tools. What is so interesting about a site that lets people make web sites about themselves? What am I missing? I already have a web site hosted on my own domain. Why would I want a Facebook or Myspace web site?

      Speaking only for myself, it's the "social" aspect that I find value in. I like meeting new people and find social-networks like facebook pretty good for that. Being
    • I think the best part is... it's a blog that people actually read. When I post stuff on my
      Facebook profile nearly all of my (Facebook) Friends! They sometimes comment - that is great.
      When I had a blog before it seemed that nobody read it. Of course, the downside is that I
      have to read their posts too :)

      Its this mutual blogging that's the best for me.

      I am sure it could be done with RSS and FOAF. I would love to get out of Facebook's garden.
    • by rueger (210566) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @09:02PM (#21178711) Homepage
      In anyone's life there are hundreds or thousands of people that know you, but with whom your relationship doesn't rank quite high enough to merit weekly or even monthly e-mails or phone calls. That doesn't mean you wouldn't like to keep track of them, where they are, or what they're doing.

      A small business may have a similar group of people who they would like to keep track of as potential customers, or who would want to know what the business is up to. Again, not your prime customers, but that second tier of interested people that a sole proprietor doesn't have time to keep in touch with.

      With Facebook you can add two or three hundred "friends" and with no further effort see on a daily basis what at least some of them are doing in their lives. They choose to Opt-in, so you can e-mail them your news without worries about backlash, and since they choose what information to display to you, you get a pretty nice picture of what matters in their lives.

      Probably two thirds of the friends that I have in Facebook [facebook.com] are people (including relatives) that I would never otherwise be in touch with.

      Plus, you can turn all of these people into Vampires.
      br
    • by Enviro (852343)
      "I don't get "Social Websites" Sounds like this idea is just right for you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by skrolle2 (844387)

      I don't understand the appeal of sites like "Facebook" or "Myspace". What they look like to me is web-based personal-website-creation tools. What is so interesting about a site that lets people make web sites about themselves? What am I missing?

      Well, apparently, you don't have, or have ever had any friends. I'm so sorry for you. :-)

      It might be easy for you to make a website about yourself, and then other people who know you could perhaps google for your name and find it and know what you are up to. However, most people really really can't or would never do a website of themselves, or buy a domain name, or start a blog. And if you had a lot of friends who did, you wouldn't really check their blogs regularly, and you wouldn't bookmark fifty differe

      • I guess the biggest problem is I /don't/ have many friends I want to keep track of.

        I went and made myself an account. Right off the bat, like you said, they want you to use your real name. I'm looking to /decrease/ my privacy exposure on the internet, not increase it, so I used a fake name.

        But once I had an account set up, I didn't see much to do with it. All of the people in my life that I want to keep track of I talk to on a regular basis. The rest if I haven't talked to them in months or years I figu
  • is my social networking, mmo, blogging, news aggregator site built on foss.
  • by Derek Loev (1050412) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @08:13PM (#21178425)
    /etc/init.d/net.social stop
  • These basic ideas are already being worked on with such systems as myVocs [myvocs.org] (pdf) [stonesoup.org], IAMSuite [mams.org.au], and CoManage [internet2.edu]. It is an idea whose time has come due. It's basically about the web maturing and adopting system boundaries (however loose or tightly you want to define them). It's a similar transition from DOS->Win->NT (or any batch to multitask migration you want to draw a parallel to). The web is about like DOS right now.
  • There are many forms of social networking site, from the business-oriented LinkedIn to the meet-and-greet sites like Facebook to the blogging-oriented LiveJournal and MySpace. (And even those two attract very different users.)

    The "obvious" approach for an Open Source solution is to have a core component that is fairly generic, fairly light, permits data exchange between sites no matter how they specialize, and permits plug-ins to enable that specialization. (There's no shortage of object exchange and data exchange protocols, so I really can't think of anything in the core component that couldn't be slapped together from pre-existing Open Source code.)

    You want something that's generic, because you want a reason for people to use the Open Source solution besides politics. If a person can totally customize their space to suit the specific sort - or sorts - of social networking they want to do, then you have a reason. Instead of maintaining one account for each and every type of social networking you want to do, you have one account, one repository and an infinite ways to tailor and filter it for each social circle you're interested in.

    I really can't see anybody really leaping onto Facebook II or MySpace II - if they wanted to do social networking, they'd already have accounts on the originals. The only reason anyone might want a new system is if it can do something the existing systems can't. One thing the existing systems can't do is share data. Another thing they can't do is be polymorphic. Ergo, those are the two things a FOSS social networking site would need to do to offer anything new and exciting.

    Would that be enough, though? Probably not. Hence the plugins, to allow users to include webapps and other features. Each user would then be able to do more than just include photographs and text.

    Again, would this be enough? No idea. It would have novelty and personalizability, but it may be so flexible that it's unusable, people may be getting burned out on such networks, and existing systems have the edge just by being there first.

  • Isn't Mugshot [mugshot.org] an Open Source social networking endeavour?
    I haven't used it but it looks like [mugshot.org] it makes sharing the sort of the stuff that gets shared on facebook fairly easy (perhaps with a little less crack).

    I'm not sure if it tell you when it's someone you know's birthday. That's just about the only useful feature I've seen on Facebook.
  • by crf00 (1048098) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @09:40PM (#21178943) Homepage
    You missed one important point: I don't care about wheter my fancy profile can be imported or exported easily from somewhere else, but I need my social network to be available in any other website that I visit. Here is my explanation by example:

    Alright, I have a facebook account, and I have tons of friends, and now I come to Slashdot or some other site. I want to find out which of my friends are user of Slashdot too and I want to be able to add them into my social network in Slashdot, I want Slashdot's People modifier to work as it should without doing lots of work. I want to able to manage my network not only from Facebook but also from Slashdot, I want to find new friends through friends of friends or connection graph inside Slashdot, I want to add those friends in Slashdot and update the connection automatically to Facebook too.

    I have a blog on Blogger, but I don't want to import my social network into my Google account. I want to let only my friends to post comment to my blog, but my friends don't have Google account or don't want to create or import his/her social network to Google. I want Blogger to be able to verify some anonymous to be actually my friends before allowing to post comment.

    I have a Friendster account and I like Friendster more. I have some friends who only use Friendster and some friends who only use Facebook. I want my network to be synchronized within these 2 social network manager, and when I visit other site like Slashdot, I want to be able to import the 2 or more networks automatically.

    I have a group of high school friends in Facebook and our group decides to create a new website. The group is well managed and controlled by ensuring everyone in the group know each other and are from the same school. Our new website want to be able to allow registration only from this group of people, so we want a verification system from Facebook between our website and our group.

    I don't want to let everybody know who is my friend and how I connected to other people. I don't want to put what FOAF file on my website and let any people mine my private network information. I want to keep my social graph private and only available to my friends and sites I use, and I want authentication based on the social network. When I visit other sites like Slashdot, I don't want to tell Slashdot who are all the friends I have, I only want Facebook to find out from Slashdot that which are my friends are also using Slashdot and return the subset of list of friends. Social network should be private and it is very important to not expose it completely to public.

    This is what the things that is needed, not what fancy profile or what superpoke application. With the power of a distributed social graph, alot of powerful things can be done. Other than that, privacy is IMPORTANT and should be always kept in mind. For this to work I have an architecture in mind and I think I should write on my blog now to share with you. Nevertheless, your direction is correct and I like this idea, lets do it together and make it a better social web!

  • Who didn't think that the article title referred to circumventing the security model of facebook, via Open Source?
  • Now, I am well aware that information posted to a social networking site is not especially private, but what is probably the main draw of Facebook over MySpace is networks. By default, only people in one's network can see one's profile and Facebook allows one to set whether each part of one's profile is viewable by everyone, people on the same network, friends even with limited rights, or friends with non-limited rights. (Having a limited rights level for friends seems silly to me, but it is in there.) The
  • by westlake (615356) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @12:07AM (#21179813)
    Wired published two unusual stories describing how consumers might link together a variety of third-party services to emulate Facebook, and ultimately calling on the open-source software community to build alternatives to the service. Inspired in part by Wired, I've posted some ideas describing what would be needed for an open source architecture for social networking.

    Once communities begin to evolve around services like AIM they become very deeply entrenched. There are 47 million reasons to chose Facebook over its FOSS alternative.

    Centralization may distress the Geek, but it makes it relatively easy to monitor abuse, set parental controls, license media content and so on.

  • via Om Malik's blog tonight http://gigaom.com/2007/10/30/opensocial/ [gigaom.com] Google's (GOOG) much awaited answer to Facebook ecosystem is finally coming to light. The existence of this Google platform was first reported by TechCrunch and is going to become official tomorrow. Google will announce its new social networking initiative, Open Social on Thursday. Joining Google and its Orkut social network are other partners such as XING, Friendster, hi5, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Newsgator and Ning. OpenSocial is a set of
  • What really scares me about facebook is simply that they know what everyones face looks like. The amount of biometric information that they have direct access to is surely more than that of any three letter agency.
  • #include {getoffmylawn.h}
    One of the things that MOST attracted me to Facebook originally was the LACK of shit and fluff on peoples pages. There were well defined sections for interests of all sorts, a place for education and work history, a separate space for pictures, simple messaging and a plain wall for public posts.
    *sigh* It was all clean and functional, unlike the all-singing, all-dancing, animated, music playing, embedded video eye-rape that is a typical Myspace page. It was also nice that only univer
  • I have a question for the lawyers here:

    After reading through Facebook's terms of use, I came across this little gem:

    By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User

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