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Re: <nettime> Has Facebook superseded Nettime?
Nick White on Sat, 3 Oct 2009 12:55:42 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Has Facebook superseded Nettime?

On Thu, 01 Oct 2009 16:55 -0700, "Morlock Elloi"
<morlockelloi {AT} yahoo.com> wrote:
> Is there a motivation besides being the alternative-big-thing? All
> proposals I've seen so far do center around the same paradigm already
> deployed ad nauseam by Friendster, MySpace, Facebook ... they just
> want to be "non-corporate", "free", "flossy" and "open" and somehow
> less evil. This is like proposing open-source jail where all jailers
> and guards will be certified as FSF, EFF and FFF-compliant, and
> everyone can make their own jail for free. *uck that.
> (snip)
> The social networking development today attracts third-rate
> technologists, testosterone-laden entrepreneurs and a lot of idle
> unemployed. This is why it's all more of the same.

I largely agree, with centralised, large-server-based systems (which to
be sure the majority of the proposals are). I think you made a mistake
referring to these as web-based - most web-based systems are this way,
it's perfectly possible for web client to e.g. draw in eg feeds from
servers under the control of those whose content is being served. Web
applications do tend towards ownership and control by others, but can be
used differently, e.g. an install on a system I control, or using an
AGPL'd system which I've audited (assuming they're respecting the
license and give change information).

I agree that most of the 'social networking' services that are popular
today won't exist for much longer. Apart from the serious social
reasons primarily lack of control, and communication mediation by
a third party - I don't know of any good business models for them.
And a centralised, appliancised system needs serious capital to
operate. Venture capital won't last forever. Ad-based businesses on
the internet have almost all failed or are failing now, and will
decline further as more people realise it. The more severe approach of
selling alot more very personal information, as facebook are trying,
is just prelonging the inevitable.

> Let me give you an example: during 90s there was a strong motivation
> to develop good encryption tools and propagate them. This motivation
> did attract very talented people, and they created things which were
> not look-alikes of corporate counterparts. There were no lookalikes.
> SSL. PGP. DH. Very few really knew what these things were. The
> authors were not motivated by the me-too-facebook drive that will
> provide recognition by the masses. There was ideology behind it, and
> it was not slashdot fame or VC money. They didn't expect masses to
> understand anything. Yet their stuff had profound influence on the
> wire as we know it. They let the ghost out of the bottle.

A nice distributed, individually owned and controlled social
networking system can be seen with FOAF+SSL technology. See
http://esw.w3.org/topic/foaf+ssl. This is tech built with ideology
behind it, and a very effective one. Essentially each person has
a foaf file describing themselves, their web resources (blogs,
galleries, etc), people they know (their foaf uris), etc, which
can change depending on who's looking at it (using SSL). Simple,
decentralised, secure, sustainable, extensible.

> You will know that you are on the right track in social networking
> development if (a) it's declared illegal, (b) you are scorned by the
> social networking luminaries and (c) there is no way to make money
> out of it, yet it's sustainable.

FOAF+SSL matches (c) somewhat, though hosting individual services
such as blogs still could. Though it's very very easy for people to
self-host or switch services without losing access to their 'social

> > You cannot politically defy the institutions when all you really
> > wanted was to be clasped to their bosoms and hope in time to be
> > cherished under the very framework of oppressive values you are
> > thinking of overcoming. That would be co-optation, revolution
> > only in the sense of a circulation of elites rather than the
> > extirpation of the very impulses of elitism.

To switch to addressing the initial question of this topic, I do
think that nettime works well as an email mailing list. The format
encourages longer, more thought-out responses, more involvement. I see
little reason to consider alternatives. It wouldn't be worth having a
larger audience if the posts were less thoughtful.

Nick White

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