Saturday, December 07, 2019

Recreating Facebook in a decentralized way?

There are quite a few people who are critical of Facebook, yet it's hard to beat the interactive momentum that Facebook has.

I got to thinking that the open web used to work kind of like Facebook, but at a much more subdued level. People just posted things on their blogs, web sites and so forth. Things came up in searches and comments were made.

I guess this could happen again, versus trying to create a new Facebook. It's hard to get the momentum of network effect going on a new site; especially when friends are mostly on Facebook. Possibly a new site could get off the ground if it had less; rather than more, concern about privacy. If one doesn't already have friends on the site, low privacy makes it easier to find people and content via search.

It was fairly easy to find connections on the open web back when there was less privacy, paywalls and so forth. The web was like a seamless thing. Not totally open and seamless, but the whole concept of "open source" comes to mind. Decentralized and non proprietary.

The reason why this comes to mind is that a friend of mine just mentioned that he used to find what was going on in various towns, that he traveled to, by doing searches on the web. Now he says it's harder to find things because the events and discussions just get posted on Facebook, but not on the open web. He thinks Facebook's search doesn't work very well and it would be easier if the things could be found in Google.

When he said that, a light went on in my mind.

I do still try and put things onto the open web; including this blog and my photo albums on Flickr.

Facebook does intensify the interaction significantly, but quite a few things aren't posted on the open web anymore. I still put things on the open web; especially if they play well; so to speak, on Facebook. Facebook is a testing ground for my thinking as it's where I get almost all of the interaction. If it plays well on Facebook, then I put it on the web. Places like Flickr are good for search and archive, but, these days, it's a lot quieter out there; feedback wise.

A strategy of Facebook is friends interacting with friends. It's friends that are most interested in our content; rather than the big time media. Big time media tends to ignore us. Of course if they print everything we offer, it's truly "information overload." That's why focusing on friend networks takes off. It stimulates the grassroots discussion.

I basically still like Facebook. I do think more use of the open web would help. Posting things on blogs, web sites and so forth.

Open search engines could be developed to prioritize the content from average people, rather than loosing it under a stack of celebrity (such as Trump Tweets) content. One's friends could become a "filter option" in Google Search.

Maybe something like the Facebook feed could be recreated at the user end; on the user's browser. A plug in to the browsers that would bring up things from bookmarks the users put into the browser. Create a feed from a list of bookmarks which would include one's personal friends?

Maybe that's what RSS feeds were? I'll have to refresh myself on that again. It's kind of a dusty memory.

Before the World Wide Web, grassroots discussion was a lot more limited. There just wasn't enough space, in the media, for everything. There were things like letters to the editor, but there was more space for interaction in person. Discussions around the water cooler, so they say. I still find that I have a lot of those discussions in person today.

In a way, Facebook is the water cooler on steroids.

Back in the early days of search engines, there was a search engine called Magellan. It had a rule, if I remember correctly, that it would only list content from official publications and more credible, institutional type sources. No personal, self publishing type web sites were allowed. Other search engines, at the time, did allow personal sites. Sites such as Altavista and Lycos did allow personal content. The later sites took off with more interesting content while, I think, Magellan didn't get that big. A while after that, Google started indexing everything from personal to institutional content. Google really took off.

To reduce fake news, it may help to try and just catalog institutional content, but one must remember; the Trump White House is an institution also.

My strategy for reducing fake news is to be in less of a hurry. I'm not in a hurry to re post things until there's time for fact checking and discussion to happen.