Social Networks

  • One year ago I launched a proposal, with related fundraiser, for an alternative to Facebook, Gmail and similar services really usable by normal people, the percloud. That fundraiser did not succeed, which is no problem at all for me, because I do have many other things to do. I am writing this post only because I believe that something like the percloud is still sorely needed, and the sooner anybody does it, the better.
  • (please note that this was just the second part of this other post!) Don’t you see that the percloud could never be as secure, performant, flexible etc as [some other project]? Of course it couldn’t. It doesn’t even try to, it just aims to be actually used by many people. I propose it as an intermediate step towards such solutions, that it is absolutely necessary to provide as soon as possible.
  • In December 2013 I came across something I still consider yet another proof of two things: first, much trust in the actual competence of many “digital savvy” Internet users is misplaced; second, many of the proposed alternatives to current social networks are trying to solve the wrong problem. Since it’s still relevant, here is a quote from an email in the public archive of the mailing list (emphasis mine): It is clear to me that a growing number of everyday local residents are actually offended or at least perturbed if you ask them to use something other than Facebook to engage in their local community online.
  • Fargo is (I’m really simplifying here!) Open Source software by Dave Winer that lets you build a blog out of files stored on your Dropbox online storage account. Ron Chester explains very well here why he is using the Fargo Web publishing system. I find particularly important, and a must-read for many “sophisticated” users of the current popular social networks, his explanation of why it’s pretty dumb to publish anything more relevant than pictures of your last breakfast on Facebook:
  • The percloud is my proposal for an easy to use personal cloud, that is for a feasible alternative for the masses to Facebook, Gmail, and all similar centralized Web services and their privacy and data ownership issues. Last week I put online a 10 slides summary of how the percloud should work. This post answers a specific question that I’ve been asked many times by readers of those slides(*): hey, wait a minute: isn’t this percloud you’re talking about just another Linux distribution?
  • Using third party services like Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook, Flickr, etc… to communicate and work online is very convenient but also has huge drawbacks: even ignoring the privacy issues exposed by the Snowden affair, you become completely dependent on a private (foreign) company that may cancel your account in any moment, because they basically feel like it, or even disappear in a few years (Facebook or Google too big to fail? That’s the same thing people said of Geocities or MySpace just a few years ago).
  • There are many reasons to not be on Facebook, or to leave it. There is one though, from Digital Interface, that doesn’t make sense, as far as I am concerned. It goes more or less like this (please read the complete version too): The typical complaint about GooglePlus relative to Facebook is that “there’s no one here”…. Consider the following arguments that shares a similar form: I’m not going to put solar panels on my roof because no one else on my block is doing it, and I don’t want to be different
  • More than ten years ago I discovered John Naisbitt’s famous quote: “We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.” This month I’ve discovered a wonderful piece by Neal Gabler that goes further: The Elusive Big Idea. This is a really short excerpt of the best points, but please read the whole piece and think seriously about it! (for the record, the fourth point below is one of the many reasons why I still prefer writing and reading to podcasts and videoclips)
  • Yesterday, following some a link provided by a friend, I read an article recently published by the Star Online magazine. I wanted to add a comment to that article, but only found in that page the following statement (see [screenshot ): “If you’d like to post a comment on the issue, you can do so at The Star’s Facebook.” I don’t think this is good. The Star Online privacy policy (see [screenshot
  • This year I have been invited to present the first results of my research about Open public data at the 2010 Open World Forum. Due to the subject of my talk, I was also invited by Glyn Moody to a panel on Open Democracy (see Glyn’s comments on that panel at CWUK). I have to confess that I went to the Open World Forum expecting to find some pompous, self-referential, corporate driven marketing show.