Most social networking and social media web sites are following a model of centralization, rather than decentralization. Following Internet principles, a decentralized architecture should be possible.
Current social networks are broken, relying on a “walled garden” approach that stifles innovation and traps our personal data – so says Chris Messina of the DiSo project. But there is another way, of distributed networks based around portable identities. An early pioneer of the social web, a founder of the Barcamp and Open ID movements, he is well placed to examine the current state of social networking, and suggest improvements.
In this talk, Chris outlines his criticisms of existing networks such as Facebook and Myspace. He explains why we need to go from a centralized, system-centric model, to a distributed, person-centric model. He sees many potential benefits for users and the networks themselves, arising from lower barriers to entry and easier ways of updating information.
But despite the promise of DiSo, there is still a great deal of work to be done. In the final part of the talk, he describes some of the challenges facing distributed social networking and suggests some possible solutions to them. He also gives a brief overview of the key components of DiSo – activity streams, portable contacts, messaging, grouping – and some of the technologies, like Open ID, that are helping to bring them into reality.