on commercial silo-ification of online discourse


I complain about twitter, facebook, and other corporate silos as much as the next person. If only there was some alternative… Something that didn't mine everything and everyone I know to sell that data to the highest bidder(s).

One response to this has been the development of new private commercial silos, with barriers to entry (subscription fees, or invitation requirements) that are intended to keep out the riff-raff while letting the cool and worthy folks into the conversation.

This is the wrong direction.

I am not even remotely interested in participating in the shiny new (and newly funded) app.net twitter clone/replacement, nor the online-discussion-blogosphere-replacement Branch.com. These solve the noise problem, but don't solve the mining-my-everything-for-monetizing-synergy-blech problem ((I'm not saying that app.net or branch.com are currently mining everything. but what's to stop them? if I let someone else control my interactions with others, I have to give them a pretty high level of trust. I have no reason to do that with either of those services…)).

Then, there's Diaspora. This project sounded extremely promising. An installable application to replace social silos like Facebook. Very interesting software, but it'll never take off as a high-volume application run by humans, because most humans won't be installing Ruby on Rails apps. ((yes, I get that it's not too hard, and it's something I could do, but then what? I'd get to connect with the other 36 geeks that installed it? yeah…)) Maybe, if it was offered as a one-click-installer on common web hosting providers? It's not.

In a perfect world, I'd post my stuff to a place ((simple, lightweight, easily installable by humans)) I own. Like, say, my blog ((I'd experimented with "asides" here awhile back - but without the notifications layer, it was pretty much useless…)). And people who choose to follow, would see the updates alongside the rest of the folks they follow. On something they own. And vice versa. This isn't new. RSS and PubSubHubbub, with a decent installable interface. Done.

We don't need more silos. We need to be able to extract ourselves from them, and still be able to connect with each other. There has to be a better solution to that problem, before we continue to fragment and isolate our online interactions.

I'll be staying with Twitter, as much as I hate it, because that's where the people I follow are. But, I'm only staying for as long as I have to. As soon as something comes along that lets me own my stuff and follow who I want to, without exposing everything to monitoring/monetizing by central third parties, I'm gone.


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