Jun 3 2010
Facebook’s new privacy policies are confusing people just as much as the old one did and many users are closing their accounts. Two days agao on June 1, 35 978 Facebook users fufilled their commitment on QuitFaceBookDay to close their account. The reasons for them leaving are not just concerns over privacy, but also a belief that Facebook doesn’t bring anything positive to the Internet.
The QuitFaceBookDay group isn’t alone in leaving Facebook. Many high profile Internet leaders have also left (More Web Industry Leaders Quit Facebook, Call For Open Alternative). Facebook is fighting an uphill battle in keeping their users satisfied. Many people will stay on because there simply isn’t an alternative and equal site to use instead.
The Return of BBS’s
Hardly any of the new computer users today knows what a BBS is. In the 1980’s and mid 1990’s, they were doing what the Internet does today, but mainly on a local scale. People set up computers at home (or in a business) and attached a modem, phone line, and ran BBS software which allowed other people to phone their computer and run applications, which included e-mail, playing games, and downloading applications.
BBS’s connected to each other which allowed them to send e-mail between them and run newsgroups. Many BBS’s were on networks which allowed them to send mail to other systems, but this was costly because you had to pay long distance phone charges to connect to a computer in another city.
The Internet changed all of this and did everything that a BBS could do at a lower cost. There were BBS’s that charged annual fees for usage and I never subscribed to them because I thought that they were too expensive and not worth it. Today, I spend more than what they charged on Internet access, but with all of the activity that I do it would have cost me more paying for services on a BBS than what I would get from the Internet.
There are very few BBS’s running on phone lines today. Most of them can be accessed only through Telnet. The Internet has replaced the old BBS technology, but BBS’s will be returning soon in a different way.
Diaspora: Social Networking for the Masses
Wikipedia defines a diaspora as “any movement of a population sharing common national and/or ethnic identity”. Diaspora is the latest threat to modern social networks and likely the one to make the most impact on the Internet. Its developers define it as "the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network”.
Diaspora is an application that turns your computer into a node on part of a larger, connected social network. Your computer stores all of your private or public information and you have control over it, as opposed to giving control to it by another organization like Facebook. Your data is secure and you decide whether you want to share with other nodes on the Diaspora network. In other words, your computer becomes a BBS, or more accurately, a web server.
Project Diaspora’s goal was to raise $10 000 by June 1, 2010 to continue their software development. They raised $200 642 from 6479 supporters. Clearly, there is a great demand for an alternate, secure social networking application. The software hasn’t been released yet and their target date is the end of summer, or some time in September.
This is an interesting project and I’m curious what kind of web server they will use for running on Windows, Macs, and Linux computers. I would guess that its Apache since this software is open source and free, but hopefully it will also run on IIS in Windows.
Diaspora may start BBS-like activity which the Internet eliminated. It all depends on how easy the setup will be for it. Most computer users have very limited knowledge in computing so it will be a real challenge getting them to create and administer a web server.