♲ Mike the Friendican
My name is Mike Macgirvin. I am a software developer.
I’ll get to the point. Help us save the web.
Getting Facebook (and Google) out of our private lives is the most important technical challenge facing the web in this generation. We MUST do this, as the grip of control is reaching further and further where it doesn’t belong – and the implications for the future are positively scary for humanity.
The way we must do this is to take back our personal and social communications.
I’VE ALREADY DONE THIS. I started a project two years ago to provide decentralised and distributed social communications. That project is now called Friendica. The project website is at http://friendica.com and code is at https://github.com/friendica/friendica.
Friendica WORKS today (unlike similar projects which are still struggling at basic communications after two years, and after squandering huge amounts of money). Along the way I’ve asked people what they needed, I’ve listened to the community, and we’ve built an entire open development eco-system around Friendica.
It’s time to take it to the next level. In order to do this, I need to devote full time to it and be able to hire a competent visual designer to help implement the vision. The new project is called simply “Red”. Red is a social network – but at the same time it is unlike any social network that has ever existed.
Like Friendica, it can do anything that Facebook can do – except monitor, and track, and “use” all its members and their activities for marketing.
Like Friendica, Red is a completely open platform that is decentralised and distributed and will run on commodity servers, with all servers treated as equals. Like Friendica it is extensible via themes and plugins/addons. Like Friendica it will be the only distributed social service which offers strong (and non-intrusive) permission control for profiles, web pages, and photos.
But we’re going a LOT further than that.
Here’s what we’re doing…
1. We’re changing the out-dated concept of “friends” vs. “not friends”. Relationships in the real world are a continuum between “intimacy” and “total strangers”. How we relate to individuals and what we share with them depends on where they fit in that spectrum. This spectrum is built into the Red experience.
2. The distributed social web suffers from the adage “only geeks run servers”. We’re going to change that. We’ve got a business model. We will get organisations and individuals to provide enough servers to support everybody on the planet because there’s a profit motive. Many sites will offer free service, some will charge for extra features, such as huge numbers of friends and additional photo space. Subscription revenue will pay for running the hardware. Geeks can also run their own servers for family/friends and get it all for free. The ability to obtain revenue and monetise the service will be built-in to the software. Whether you choose to use it is a personal (or business) choice.
Advertising on the web has gotten us into this situation. To get out of it, we have to draw a line in the sand. No advertising. No monitoring and no tracking. Our credo and reason for existence is that our customers are YOU and your PRIVACY is what we are being paid to protect. Period.
3. We already know from building decentralised social systems that sites come and go and people move to other servers. We’re building MOBILITY into the Red protocols. You’ll download your private key and address book to a thumb drive and be able to communicate from any device or desktop, through any Red server on the planet – privately, to all your friends and associates. If you can still connect to your old server, we can get everything we need from there and you don’t need to download it. Sure, you will also be able to save your posts and photo albums, but what we discovered in practice is that the most important thing about moving between server hubs is the ability to preserve your relationships. You can pop up at any Red site at any time and still have all your friends.
4. The other thing we learned from Friendica is that one “interface” does not make everybody happy. Neither does one set of features. So along with the Red “look and feel”, we are completely revamping the “theme” system to make it easy to build additional applications on top of our decentralised communications infrastructure. You can have dating sites, church social clubs, learning centers and more. You can have desktop apps and mobile/pad apps and web apps. These are all just templates you apply to our/(your) social framework. Also, these can either connect with the rest of the Red “grid”, or they can be standalone and offer completely different functionality. Secure and private social communications are provided by a back-end engine, and we’ll provide tools so you can build anything you wish on top of it. We have an existing API which is already compatible with a few dozen third-party clients. We will be adding to this to provide access to our full range of privacy features.
I’m building Red today. I’m also heavily involved in Friendica and keeping it running smoothly. But look – reality bites some times. I’m a family guy holding a day job. There isn’t enough time in the day to pull this off. Everybody developing Friendica is/are volunteers. The work ahead is monumental. If I’m doing this part time it’s going to take 2-3 years.
So I’m looking for crowd funding to allow me to work on this full time. I’m a good project developer, but I also require the assistance of at least one good visual designer who can transform these ideas into a slick web interface. Visual design is something you have or you don’t have, and I don’t have it – so I need help.
I’d like to fund this project for my own salary and one designer and one capable server for one year – and I believe that by the end of that time we will have the means to be self-sustaining. If I can hire a couple of other people to help out, it will happen quicker. Time is of the essence. We’re rapidly losing control of the web to the forces of darkness.
Everything we do is and will be published openly and you can track our progress.
I will be working with one or two crowd sourcing applications to launch an official campaign, but you can donate today – just PayPal firstname.lastname@example.org and send this to a friend or three and help me get the word out.
Help us save the web.