Media Musings Blog Archive Privacy v Social Networking
Crampon vissé nike mercurial facebook’s new Timeline features haven’t been implemented yet, but they already prompting fierce debate.
On the one hand, you have the mainstream press that has expressed alarm at the records of browsing habits Facebook will maintain.
Opposing this view have been tech sites like Mashable, whoargue that what Facebook is doing is really, really cool and will add a lot to the user experience.
But it doesn’t have to be either/or. Both these reactions discount the increasing role of open source social networking, of which Diaspora is the most complete example. With a Diaspora account, you get to choose where it’s hosted. There’s nothing stopping you from uploading the code to your own web server. You pay to buy some web space, and in return, you own and control your data.
Drawing on the open source movement, Diaspora code can be edited by anyone to include the features they want. In the long term, this opens up the possibility of cross network sharing. Like how a yahoo email account can send to gmail. There’s nothing stopping social networking moving in this direction in the future. Except commercial imperative, which succeeds when each network is a walled garden, monopolising user time that it can then sell on to advertisers. Diaspora and similar networks could radically change this market model.
So why hasn’t the press (apart from NPR) reported on the remarkable possibilities this poses? Two reasons.
One, Davids to slay the Goliath have been proclaimed before. All have failed. Facebook has been remarkably quick to implement the features of its rivals (But, this responsiveness is cosmetic. For all its changes, Facebook will always seek its commercial advantage.)
Secondly, it’s just really hard to cover. Writing for a non specialist audience means picking up on a theme that’s easy to understand and find advocates for, like concern for privacy. Which, in turn, annoys the specialist press, who feel compelled to defend companies like Facebook against the hysteria of the mainstream press.
But that no excuse. Good journalists should be able to pitch and condense complicated ideas. And comparing open networks to email wouldn’t be a bad way to go about it.
Note: I’ve phrased everything here in terms of Facebook, but it could be easily applied to Google+. The contest between the two has always been over features, not over the underlying business model.
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