Decentralization: The Future of Online Social Networking

Ching-man Au Yeung1, Ilaria Liccardi, Kanghao Lu, Oshani Seneviratne, Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Nov 23, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is kind of old (from 2008) but it's still relevant, it has a good graphic, and I want to keep it in my personal database for future reference. It's a depiction of a distributed social networking system. The authors write, "We believe such a decentralized setting gives back the users the control of their own data. In particular, in the following three respects:

  • Privacy: Users in decentralized social networks decide who to show the information to and what restriction there is on the data.
  • Ownership: As the information is stored on a trusted server or on the local computer, users have complete ownership of the data. They would not loose their data suddenly as the proprietary service hosting their data decides to shutdown without much notice.
  • Dissemination: Information is disseminated according to usersʼ preferences and friendship relations.

I don't think the third matters as much as the authors thought (it was the core idea of Google+, but Google+ was about as popular as snow in July, so...). But the first two are crucial, still crucial, and still the future.


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