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Recently I realized that the most popular social platforms on the net are in the hand of just a few companies, Google, Twitter, Facebook, to name just a few. Taking into account the world changing power of these frameworks I am looking for a non-profit, democratic alternatives to these sites. (Mozilla is a non-profit project, however it could not thrive without the backing of Google.)

In my imagination, the ideal approach (see explanation below) would be a distributed approach as used in file sharing programs or tools like seti@home. Every user willing to take part in the project would have to install software on his or her computer to act as a node in the network that would make up a social space similar to Google+, Facebook or Twitter but with a non-commercial approach. This approach could also be used for a "democratic" cloud to store data.

Is anyone aware of projects that go in this direction?


I call it "ideal approach" for a couple of reasons. No need for big server farms or hardware maintaining costs. Invulnerability against most hack attack because it's distributed and there is no central node. Just some I could think of right now.

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why do you think this approach would be "ideal"? –  gnat Jan 9 '13 at 11:13
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Do you mean cloud computing or social networking? You seem to be conflating the two... –  Baqueta Jan 9 '13 at 11:27
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Conversely, there are non-profit organizations that also have "world changing" capabilities. Apache and Mozilla come to mind (it was Mozilla, after all, that finally started toppling the IE6 monopoly). –  Shauna Jan 9 '13 at 19:01
    
@Shauna I didn't say that there are no non-profit project with those capabilities. Mozilla however is a project that could not thrive without the backing of Google. –  tinytiger Jan 10 '13 at 11:35
    
@gnat "Ideal" for a couple of reasons. No need for big server farms or hardware maintaining costs. Invulnerability against most hack attack because its distributed and there is no central node. Just some I could think of right now. –  tinytiger Jan 10 '13 at 11:40
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2 Answers 2

There are several such projects. The most publicized system (but certainly not the first) is Diaspora, which is a social network made of many individually-operated servers, called "pods". Pods can be freely set up using the AGPL-licensed source code. An individual user can set up a personal pod, or can join a public pod. Regardless of what pod your account is set up on, you can interact with users from other pods (it's a bit like email: if you use Gmail and I use Yahoo mail and another person runs their own mail server, there's no reason why we can't all communicate).

I don't know what "non-commercial" has to do with anything, though -- plenty of pods display ads to their users and some could even charge for access (e.g., in exchange for promises of very good uptime). Of course, users are free to move to a pod that doesn't display ads or charge money, if they wish.

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Thank you, that sounds interesting. About "non-profit". Facebook, Twitter, Google, they all shape the user experience in a way that makes them the most revenue. I do not say that this is a bad thing but a free net is all about free communication and profit should not be the driving factor. –  tinytiger Jan 10 '13 at 11:53
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I think there are a lot of problems building a truely distributed social network. Problems will be Privacy, Spam and Manipulation. Diaspora is cool, but i think a better one is friendica.

Another cool open source Cloud computing Sofware is ownCLoud which replaces dropbox and other services.

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