Four NYU students with over $100K in funding think the answer is “Yes.” Their project is called Diaspora, yet they aren’t going to start coding til their done with school this summer.
Another possible alternative is OneSocialWeb, though its name is horrible name and it has a poor intro video. OSW’s mission is “creating a free, open, and decentralized social networking platform.” Watch their screencast demo to get why it’s just crazy enough to work….but if you want my quickie sum-up, here it is:
OSW uses a distributed server architecture with a consistent web protocol to allow social networks running on different servers to communicate with one another and to appear to the user to be seamlessly joined.
Thomas Baekdal recently made some bold statements about Facebook (Facebook is Dying – Social is Not) but what it boils down to is, if you are going to share your life digitally, it is going to be accessible–one way or another–to people you don’t want to access it.
Whether you use Facebook, have your own blog (Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr), or belong to several highly targeted social networks that allow you to fragment your identity online (Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube), you are putting yourself in a position for people with a different code of ethics to exploit your data however they see fit.
I don’t see how Facebook can lose. They have droves of lay-people hooked. The only concerted opposition to Facebook (or a Facebook-like thing from another large company) comes from tech journalists and privacy activists: not a terribly PR-savvy or well-organized bunch.
Read more about Diaspora:
Open Facebook Alternatives Gain Momentum, $115K | Epicenter | Wired.com
Read more criticism of Facebook:
Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative | Epicenter | Wired.com