As a quick f0llow-up to my previous post about Diaspora, I wanted to mention some other networks and services that share the same open-web/open-source spirit. Additionally, I want to point people to open D* pods. No invites required, these pods are free and fully alpha just like the joindiaspora.com pod I’m on and have been inviting people to. Finally, I have a personal social network announcement.
Commenters on my last post have been incredibly informative in sharing some other networks and services with me. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them. In the spirit of the open web, I cannot support one service above others. The idea is for the best ideas to coalesce at the surface and create the best possible social experience. I have not tried any of these services myself, but I have looked into them briefly. I only have a couple here now, but if you know any leave me a comment and I’ll add it to the list.
Friendika attempts to unite all of the disparate services we use into one connected stream. They even have two-way communication going in a limited capacity. That means users can pull in their various feeds and can comment on some of them and have those comments pushed back out to the appropriate social network. This is all built on a protocol that decentralizes the whole effort. Unfortunately it doesn’t change the fact that you still have to belong to all of those other networks and give them your information in order to interact with other users. This is a stepping stone to a truly open and fully connected social web.
Elgg. is an open-source social-network engine. You can use it to build your own social network, similar to how the Diaspora software can be used to build your own pod. The difference is that Elgg does not intend for the separate networks built on their engine to communicate with each other. I’m sure it could be implemented, but it is not natively supported by the software. This is a really powerful tool, though, and someone could definitely build their own network and allow it to interact with Diaspora.
Nymworld is just teasing for now. It will be built upon the Diaspora framework but it aims to create a federation with other open services. Nymworld will launch with a user bill of rights with a constitution to follow, I’m assuming based on user input. This is an important project and I am following it closely.
Commenter Luke shared FreedomBox with me. This is fascinating, really. The small-picture, Diaspora-related aspect of the FreedomBox is that it can provide anyone with a low-cost, low-resource means to host their own pod. But this project is really about so much more than that. It is about people always being free to communicate and about ensuring that no one ever owns the internet. I don’t know about the rest of you, but these FreedomBoxes just scream “future!” to me. Here is an informative flyer [pdf].
That’s all I have right now. Like I said, let me know if you’ve found a service or network that is also making the web a more social and user-oriented place.
Moving right along, now. The invites I have been sending out allow people to join the Diaspora pod hosted at joindiaspora.com. This is the pod hosted and used by the creators of Diaspora. This is not the only D* pod available, though. There are a number of pods that are open to new users, no invites required. A great resource to find a pod is http://podupti.me/. This site provides a list of pods and some vital statistics. You can also just Google “Diaspora pod” and find different pods.
By design, you should still be able to connect to a user on any other pod. Sometimes you have to search specifically for them. And right now there is no way to easily migrate your profile from one profile to another. This is a good place for a reminder: Diaspora*, across all pods, is still in alpha testing. Things will be broken, or break, and service will go on and offline occasionally. The beauty is that it gets better all the time. There are frequently small little improvements that make you happy to see the service grow.
There are definite benefits to joining a different pod. Pods are hosted all over the world, so it is possible for users to find pods hosted in their home country, maybe even their city. Furthermore since the pods are hosted by different groups, their priorities are different. One pod may be focused more on up-time, whereas another may be focused on keeping the code as up-to-date as possible. This allows users to align their priorities with the pod they join. So already one of the advantages of a decentralized social web is in play for Diaspora.
Now for some personal social networking news. I’m giving up on Google+. I’m not going to close my account by any means, but I am no longer going to actively check and update on the service. I’m throwing my support (my time and attention) to D*. I’ve been actively maintaining four profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Diaspora. It’s been a pain, especially since both G+ and D* are so new and don’t really have any of my main connections on them.
It is obvious to me that Google+ is an advertising platform. The social network hides a much bigger agenda, and while I don’t believe it is sinister I also cannot support it. Google made a mistake in its management of this product. G+ provides some cool services and I really like that it is from Google. But they haven’t tied any of their other products into it very tightly (no G-Wave 2.0). I will continue to use those other products, like Gmail and Docs, but I am walking away from G+ starting today.
What about you? What social networks do you use? Let me know in the poll below. Keep in mind that I’m including any service you use to interact with people in any way. So this includes everything from YouTube through Facebook onto Foursquare, Reddit, and blogs.
Have you given up a social service recently? Have you added one into your online social life? Let me know in the comments below.
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