Whether you agree with the Occupy (insert location here) movement or not you can’t deny that they have made a mark. Social media has played a role in that ability to make the desired impact. It seems though that traditional social media outlets like Facebook have reached their limitations with groups like this because of these folks’ desire to have a system that helps privacy rather than is always in the crosshairs regarding the same issue (read: Facebook).
So how do you overcome this issue? Build your own social network of course. A Wired article tells us:
“I don’t want to say we’re making our own Facebook. But, we’re making our own Facebook,” said Ed Knutson, a web and mobile app developer who joined a team of activist-geeks redesigning social networking for the era of global protest.
They hope the technology they are developing can go well beyond Occupy Wall Street to help establish more distributed social networks, better online business collaboration and perhaps even add to the long-dreamed-of semantic web — an internet made not of messy text, but one unified by underlying meta-data that computers can easily parse.
This is an interesting approach. Some would say that this is something that is best left to a big company but let’s remember that underlying the huge Facebook operation is a MySQL database which makes many cringe. While that has nothing to do with privacy it does have much to do with reliability and whether it holds up or not is not something people like the Occupy movement is apparently willing to trust.
Privacy and the attention the big social networks get by the courts, however, is the main driver though.
“We don’t want to trust Facebook with private messages among activists,” he said.
The same thinking applies to Twitter and other social networks — and the reasoning became clear last week, when a Massachusetts district attorney subpoenaed Twitter for information about the account @OccupyBoston and other accounts connected to the Boston movement. (To its credit, Twitter has a policy of giving users the opportunity to contest such orders when possible.)
So could the future of social networking be more niche oriented? Would the needs of various groups be so disparate that there would be a need for individual networks to handle the load without feeling like big brother is hovering over them? Can even a niche social network escape the view of the legal system? Not likely.
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These are all interesting questions that will crop up as we move through the online social age. If history is any indicator there will be cyclical movements going from general to specific and back. In the Internet space these cycles tend to be sped up so it will be quite a study to see if this actually does happen or will the Internet space act differently. Since human beings are behind everything the Internet is and does the likelihood of it acting differently is small. Let’s face it, people are people.
What’s your take?