Network of Social Networks

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Opportunities and Challenges of Interoperability

The existing protocols and platforms are mature enough to start the process of emerging into a global federated social web. There are many federated/decentralized/p2p social networking platforms currently evolving:

  • Diaspora, StatusNet, Friendika, GNU Social, Ampify, PeerSon, etc.

Early in 2011 there were about 10 such initiatives and after one year period there are more than 50 projects. Each of them provides federation between the users but witihn the same platform. There is no consistent interoperability between the platforms.

We want to establish a neutral, trustworthy, multi-stakeholder organisation:

  • To catalyst the efforts of organisations or individual initiatives sharing the vision of global federated social web.
  • To provide a common ground and to remove obstacles so that different ICT projects that develop similar platforms and protocols can synchronise their efforts and find a consensus.
  • To bring cooperation and trust, allow compromise to create new interoperability protocols and related policies that can be acceptable by vast majority of SNs.

The chalange is not technical any more, the chalange is to find new organizational principles:

The principles of the new "Network of Networks " owned and governed by its participating member networks:

  • Member organisations govern their parts of the network which they represent.
  • The Netowrk of Networks itself is governed by the board of directors which are appointed by member networks. There will be no self-perpetuating board, all member organisations will participate in electing the board anually.
  • The Representation on the board is balanced to ensure that all members have a voice in decision-making and that no particular interest dominates.
  • The voting right of a board director is related to its network size, e.g. one vote for every 1000 users.
  • Different approaches of participatory democratic decision making could be used - consensus, voting, and others.
  • Membership is open for any network, community or organization to join provided they commit to obey the principles.
  • The networks could be sold or traded but the membership can not be sold.

The “Network of Networks” organisation will create the constitution and the backbone according to these principles. The participating social networks are expected to respect and abide the principles defined by the constitution . To sustain itself it will need an administrative core that will rely on equally distributed membership fees. This will make for an organisation that can be compared to original VISA International Foundation or to some constituional principles of Europen Unioun.

Incentives for other organisations to join:

  • Trust a neutral body as a catalyst to collaborate and compromise.
  • Everyone is free to use the protocols and open technologies developed by the alliance but only the members of the alliance will have the power to decide upon the standardisation of new protocols.
  • Each community will be able to set up and organise its own platform with its data and services.
  • No SN company or community will agree to join with an other SN company which has its own interests. But they will agree to join into one neutral organisation that has no self-interest and is fairly managed by its member parts.
  • Member organisations will benefit more from opening their database to gain a larger audience than from exclusively receiving benefits from a community locked in their domains.

What is the current scale, organisational structure and actual purpose of Facebook:

  • 12% of world population are in Facebook (845 million active users).
  • If Facebook was a country it would be the size of EU and US togheter.
  • Key management personnel comprise only 3 people.
  • More than 50 % of ownership belongs to 4 shareholders.
  • The actual purpose of the company is to increase the profits of few shareholders.

It is apparent that we need to find new organisational structure which will have more equal distribution of power and wealth, which can meet the challenges of competitive interests and bring cooperation and which will most importantly have authetentic purpose and principles.

How the Network of Networks is different:

  • The new organisational structure and democratic instruments that will make it more easy to reach a consensus and where further simplified solutions could be rapidly developed.
  • Clearly stated purpose and principles: trust is the catalyst factor for many to join.
  • No profit-driven company owning and controlling it in a centralized way. No vested interest of single company. All interests of all stake-holders equally considered.