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Budding open source alternatives to Facebook

A few days ago Diaspora, the venture by four programmers to build an opensource, federated social network that would compete with Facebook, released its code to developers, having reached a phase where minimal implementation was already possible. The group promised, from the beginning, to set up a site that would be similar to WordPress.com or identi.ca for non-technical people. Even more technical people will not at this stage be able to implement Diaspora on shared hosting, simply because the database chosen is not compatible with most web hosts.

Most tech writers on Diaspora fail to mention, or do not know, that long before Diaspora there was already an opensource, federated social network in the works - not identi.ca - which resembles Twitter - but Appleseed - which, like Diaspora, is of the Facebook mould. Its code is already more advanced than Diaspora, though it hasn't been as well funded, and it uses a standard LAMP setup. But, as with Diaspora, it doesn't make too much sense to set up one's personal social network, or even a "node" of a larger network, unless there are lots of friends.

So while we wait for alternatives to Facebook, we are stuck with it for the time being. There are other networks, but only on Facebook are we likely to find many of our real world friends. But as Facebook grows, so does the discontent of its user base, who come to regard the network as a necessary evil. Many treat it with extreme caution. They are dead right.