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De-Centralised Social Networking

2010 saw a lot of work undertaken towards making federated social networking real. To describe in more detail, in order to overcome the need for users to hand over their data to a third-party social networking site, a number of concrete coding projects have started to build federated Social Web platforms, which allow users to run their own social web provider, allowing users to keep their data where they want – even on their own server – while still interacting with the rest of the Social Web. These projects met at the Federated Social Web Summit 2010 [FSW]. One of the results of the summit was the definition of the test-case named Social Web Acid Test 0 (SWAT0)[SWAT0]. SWAT0 details a use case where a user running a “node” of their own social network wishes to tag a photo of a friend running a node of another social networking codebase, and for the tagging update to propagate amongst both networks. Below is a non-exhaustive list of projects currently in development for a federated Social Web by participating in SWAT0. A more complete list is maintained by the GNU social Project [GNULIST].
10.1 StatusNet

StatusNet is a free software microblogging platform to help people in a community, company or group to exchange short (140 characters, by default) messages over the Web [STATUSNET]. Users can choose which people to “follow” and receive only their friends’ or colleagues’ status messages. StatusNet used to be based on the Open Micro-blogging specification but is now based on OStatus, and runs on PHP and MySQL [OSTATUS]. It is currently deployed by identi.ca (and an increasing number of independent sites) and supported by plug-ins for Drupal and WordPress.
10.2 GNU social

GNU social is a project championed by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) [GNUSOCIAL]. A decision by the GNU social steering committee has been made to built on top of the OStatus protocol and the StatusNet codebase. It’s main goal is to deployable with a minimal hosting configuration. As it is based on StatusNet, it is run from MySQL and PHP.
10.3 OneSocialWeb

Vodafone’s OneSocialWeb open source decentralized federated social web platform built on XMPP [OSW]. OneSocialWeb has extended XMPP using a number of draft specifications: ActivityStreams over XMPP [AXMPP], vCard4 over XMPP [VCARDXMPP], Social Relationships [SR], and Personal Eventing Protocol (to allow events to be stored offline in an “inbox”) [PEP] . OneSocialWeb has a Java-based plug-in for servers, web clients, and an Android application.
10.4 Higgin’s Project

Eclipse’s Higgin’s Project is one of the earliest open-source efforts to create a decentralized social network [HIGGINS]. It is based on the Personal Data Store model and its own RDF/OWL persona data model. It also includes support for active clients and OASIS IMI infocards to deal with issues related to identity provisioning, multiple identities, multiple personae, and multiple levels of assurance [INFOCARD].
10.5 Diaspora

The Diaspora project to “leave Facebook” [DIASPORA] was greeted with much fanfare by the New York Times in May, as it was founded by four students from New York University who have managed to collect 200,000 US dollars using online donations [NYT]. Their main focus is security, with all communications encrypted and signed. Their alpha code in Ruby has been released.
10.6 Diso Project

The Diso project is an umbrella-group to build a decentralized Social Web into open-source software, focussing first on enabling OpenID, OAuth, and Microformats for WordPress and Movable Type in PHP [DISO].
10.7 SMOB

Semantic MicroBlogging (SMOB) is a framework for distributed microblogging based on Semantic Web technologies [SMOB]. Each “hub” of SMOB exposes its data in RDFa and as a SPARQL end-point. Updates are then down using SPARQL Update, so that interaction consists of exchanging RDF data such as FOAF and SIOC, but augmented, with a special focus on tags vocabularies like CommonTag, making microblogging part of the Linked Open Data effort.
10.8 Appleseed

Appleseed is another decentralized social networking project that claims to be the first fully decentralized social networking software, emphasizes privacy, the ability to move around without losing your friends, and advocates open standards [APPLES].
10.9 OpenLink Data Spaces

OpenLink Data Spaces (ODS) is an open source project on the OpenLink Virtuoso Server with several pre-built subsidiary user-focused applications [ODS]. In addition to OpenID and WebID, it supports Semantic Web technologies, Atom variants, oData, and gData (communicating via “semantic pingback”). Its focus is on data-space virtualization and ACLs for Web storage.
10.10 Project Danube

Project Danube is an example of a Personal Data Store (PDS) (aka Personal Data Locker), a fourth party service that works on a user’s behalf as put forward by the VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) community [DANUBE]. The intent is to centralize control for the user, and to provide them with a central dashboard for decentralized and federated data. Project Danube is an XRI-based implementation of a Personal Data store and participates in the Federated Social Web effort, having a working OStatus implementation.
excerpt from-W3C Incubator Group Report 6th December 2010
full report can be found at




  1. Pingback: Phiblue » Facebook, Like It (or not?) - May 12, 2011

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