Adriana is a pioneer in all she does and she achieved a status as forward thinker on the matters of the web. She has been one of the first bloggers ever, even before decent instruments were created for blogging. Then she has been consulting on innovation in companies way before innovation became the buzzword it is nowadays. More recently she has been involved in Vendor Relationship Management, a project with the objective to give customers full control on their personal data, taking it away from companies. In VRM view customers then give companies only selective personal data access in exchange for value. Today Adriana is involved in the Quantified Self movement, whose aim could look akin to VRM but is deeply different as she strongly supports. QS objective is to give people the tools to collect and analyse all the data that contemporary digital tools produce about ourselves, empowering people to understand themselves better.
Adriana and I had a long chat about these and other subjects, which made me think of what is the web today in relation to the need of people to self express and in particular the relation between personal blogging and Facebook.
Personal blogging has been the first instance in which individuals were empowered to express their own views and share them with a large audience, much broader than was previously possible through personal face-to-face interactions or via email. Blogging became possible thanks to internet startups like Blogger (later acquired by Google), which created online platforms for people to have their own personal blogs. They were just platforms on which users would create their material and would share it over the web, that is on a public infrastructure. Quickly it became possible also to own the infrastructure for your own blog, like with Wordpress, and just keep it hosted on a web server, thus gaining full control over the content. But it was still relatively complex for a would-be blogger to set up all the infrastructure and start blogging. Which is something that really did not change much in time, in spite of being technically possible.
On the other side another need emerged and found ways to be fulfilled on more recent platforms, namely the need to microblog or simply post pictures, feelings, short text, which is much easier and does not require much preparation and intent as writing a blog post. These platforms are Twitter, Facebook, later on Tumbler and many others, with Facebook coming out as the preferred platform with over 1 billion users. People can express their need for microblogging same as the bloggers were doing with blogs, but with a key difference: blogs are hosted either on private or blogger-owned infrastructures, but live on a public infrastructure, the web. Whereas Facebook does all the same, but on a strictly private and controlled platform.
Now my question is: can a facebook without Facebook exist? I'm talking about the challenge of creating an open system to allow people start and own their own blogging or microblogging site that connect to other people's similar sites in a way that is akin to what facebook does between different users. * Is such a system possible? (My educated guess is yes) * How would people use it? * Would it be any interesting for people who do not like someone else (FB) have control over their data?
Sure that someone thought of it already, who did it and what is the state of the art? Some names I found and I am going to explore further: Diaspora, Crabgrass, NoseRub, StatusNet, identi.ca, Thimbl.