Monday, November 12, 2012

Decentralized social network

I find many content from the web.  Some I get from well known hi-tech news sites like TechCrunch, All Things D, Business Insider, etc.  Others I discover directly from the source, that is, individual bloggers.

Reading blogger's writing is like peeking into their personal journals.  They all come in different styles, unique perspectives and a lot of passion about the subject.  That's what makes reading blog entry so much more intimate and engaging.  You can almost hear the writer's breathing as you read through the text.

As I read more and more of these, I started running into a problem.  The trouble is that there is no easy way to keep track of these interesting bloggers.  There are a few interesting blogs that I keep coming back to, which I tend to remember by the Google auto-complete feature.  But there are equally many blogs that I visit that I wish I had a time and energy to thread in a meaningful way.  Random inspiration tends to happen when you are least expecting.  It would be nice to keep them in an organized manner.

Then I started to think about parallels with social network.  These bloggers are writers.  They create content to be subscribed by people.  Once reader finds the writer's content interesting, the reader can follow the writer to subscribe additional content.  In fact that's exactly what Facebook and Twitter have popularized by making micro blogging easy and mapping subscription process down to friendship and following.

There are already plumbings for publishing and subscription for the wider internet.  RSS and Atom standard come to mind, but there are other publish and push subscription standards available.  In fact there have been  multiple efforts in progress to harness existing technologies (one by Dave Winer comes to mind) and build a new decentralized network (Tent is the latest attempt at doing this) to build a new open social network.

What we lack is the open service that allows readers to discover new writers who create interesting content. It should run like a Zite but using an open protocol so that any one can extend.  It should allow readers to subscribe writers and thread interesting articles into related topics so that they can be easily shared as a topic thread and referenced.

I believe we are already well on our way to this decentralization.  I see more blogging sites and more thought-provoking articles written by individual publishers.  Future of social web will be in the hands of content creators.

Stop worrying about your friends and jump right into creating content.
Content creators will help web get decentralized from Facebook and Twitter.

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