How can a privacy-positive social media site gain meaningful adoption?

August 18th, 2018

There is a fundamental tension when designing social media software with a focus on privacy: The more posts are set to friends-only access, the harder a time the network will have in gaining adoption.

Since social media to a large extent lives and dies by network effects, some combination of these are necessary to grow the network beyond a critical threshold and keep it lively. It must also stay reasonably competitive with other social media systems in attracting users. There are many reasons a person might choose to 1) create an account and 2) "friend" other users rather than sticking with what they already have:

  • Being encouraged to by their existing friends
  • To see what all the fuss is about (if it's in the news)
  • By seeing interesting posts by people they may or may not know

Privacy-positive social media software is by default at a disadvantage in the last category. How can it be made competitive with the likes of Twitter and Facebook without compromising on values? In this post, I consider the notion of "socially local privacy" as a partial solution to the discovery problem.

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Goals for an ideal social network

April 1st, 2018

I want social space online, but none of the social media software currently in existence meets my needs. Beyond that, I believe that many of the offerings are actively harmful to privacy, security, and democracy. I know many people feel the same way, but can't opt out for lack of alternatives. Clearly it's time to build something new. Something that's useful, effective, and responsible, but also attractive. What elements will it need?

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On the path to TradeUps.net

July 26th, 2006

I have begun development of a new site, TradeUps.net, where users will be able to barter with those in their geographic vicinity with the help of tags and Google Maps. It's still in its infancy, and the core components haven't even been written yet, let alone tested. I don't even care if it's already been done before -- it's more of a learning experience. I'll be journaling its development occasionally, starting today.

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Keeping track of comments

May 31st, 2006

I find it interesting how advances in web technology come in waves. Weblogs have been around forever, but blogs really came into their own with the development of simple CMS apps that ordinary folks could use (instead of manually editing and uploading every time they had something new to say). And each new advance begets a new problem.

With blogs that incorporate comment systems has arisen a new need: the need to keep track of the comments one has written. I like to follow up on comments that I leave on other people's blogs, so after commenting, I drag the link to a folder in my bookmarks toolbar in firefox. Then I occasionally revisit the links in the folder, deleting where necessary. It's not efficient, and I'd like to see some automation. Some scattered sites and systems have their own systems that work by email, such as LiveJournal and Movable Type. But that's not enough. There needs to be a system independent of the CMS in use by a site. I know others must be feeling just as frustrated.

So I wasn't entirely surprised to see a system appear on the del.icio.us/popular list recently: coComments. I'm signing up for the service as I write this, and I intend to test it thoroughly.

What do you do manually on the web that can be automated? What will the next advance be?

Edit the web

April 16th, 2006

What if web surfers could edit any page on a website? What if webmasters could get webcorrections from users? What if readers could fix typos in blog posts, without leaving nitpicky comments? I've got a plan...

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