I’m not a fan of Facebook as I have a great number of questions about the service and its intentions. At the same time there really isn’t any alternatives – or is there?
There was a lot of talk about Google Wave when it first was announced but it didn’t last very long and the talk has been replaced by the hype over Buzz but even that is just a shadow of what Facebook brings to the table. A lot of people in the social media world have expressed the hope that Google would finally get its Social Media mojo together and actually bring us a competitor to the Facebook giant.
The thing is that we may actually looking at Wave the totally wrong way or possibly not looking at it the right way. Chris Brogan has talked often about Google Wave and has found it useful for things like collaboration but I wonder if even he isn’t using it to its full potential – as a Facebook alternative.
I know I had for the most part given up on Google Wave at being something of any real use to me but then today a reader left a comment on a previous post, Getting depressed with this whole social media thing, that got me to thinking about Wave again.
Rather than paraphrase an excellent comment by Joel David Palmer I am re-posting it here for you to read, and I strongly recommend that you think about what he has to say as it makes a lot of sense and full of possibilities.
A proposal for peer-to-peer online social networking:
It is now evident that Facebook intends to create an alternate Internet where its hundreds of millions of users generate content (links, photos, connections, geo-tags) that will be analyzed to manipulate the information presented to you – your user experience. Fortunately, there is nothing about Internet design that prevents private, decentralized, noncommercial social networking.
Current models of online social networking have a number of serious flaws:
A better approach would be:
• Community curated
I propose Google Waves as an existing, viable alternative to Facebook that could be implemented almost immediately.
Google Waves are private web pages that work pretty much like email. Only people who have been invited to join the wave can access this web page. Once you have joined a wave you can collaborate on it in real time and over time, and anything you can do with a web page, you can work together to do with your wave.
Here’s how it works. Instead of having Facebook accounts, you and your connections will have wave accounts, which are like email accounts. You just create a wave and invite all your connections to join it. Now everyone can collaborate on everyone else’s wave. Whenever there is something new on a wave, your wave client will notify you, just like email.
Waves can be as simple or elaborate as you like, but it’s really easy to have sections for posting and commenting, chat, video conferencing, galleries and albums, embedded video, news feeds, anything. Unlike email, there is only one version of a wave, and it is updated in real time. Any change to a wave immediately shows up for everyone who is part of that wave.
If you drop audio or video into a wave, it shows up for anyone else with that wave open, so you can watch video together, or spin records for each other, or write a book, or give a workshop, or whatever!
When you’re watching Youtube videos, you can drop embed code into your social networking wave and watch from there with anyone else who stops by, and you’ll leave a history that your connections can follow up on later if they want. Waves are searchable and can be played back and forth through time so you can see what you missed as it happened while you were away.
Waves are completely private, or at least as private as email. Waves are not mediated by a business and their contents are not mined and sold and the user experience manipulated for commercial purposes. Waves can be served from anywhere, just like any web page or email, so online social networking can be arbitrarily local and distributed and completely under the control of the user.
At the extreme in personal control, we could each configure our own computer as a little wave server and have primary control of our social networking server logs. Less extreme than this, any community or association that’s used to serving email could as easily and securely serve waves to their group.
Widespread adoption of waves would automatically reclaim a lot of user privacy and personal responsibility for online communications of every kind. The contents cannot be mined by outside interests without committing criminal acts – waves are as private as email.
Waves give you and your connections complete control over your social networking experience, and real opportunities for creative collaboration. A wave can be email, telephone, IM, videophone, collaboration platform, art form, performance venue. Transitioning to waves appears to be a good strategy toward a collaborative social web that is peer-to-peer rather than server-client.
I have been thinking long and hard on what Joel wrote and caused me to re-evaluate the potential for Google Wave. I plan on spending some time over the next little while with some friends (willing guinea pigs) to see if this actually can work.
In light of what Joel wrote what are your thoughts?
Do you think Wave could be an viable alternative?
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