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88 responses to “Facebook, privacy and social utility”

  1. Tyro Rex

    Not a bad idea, that the ABC should offer such a service, Mark! They could be world-leading such things and I bet many other such services would spring up around it. The internet was originally built from open protocols in the first place; it is (or was) a huge public good that private companies make money from just as individuals benefit.

  2. Tyro Rex

    Not a bad idea, that the ABC should offer such a service, Mark! They could be world-leading such things and I bet many other such services would spring up around it. The internet was originally built from open protocols in the first place; it is (or was) a huge public good that private companies make money from just as individuals benefit.

  3. Paul Burns

    I can hardly work out to use Facebook nowadays. It seems much more complicated than when I first went on it. (And I still can’t work out how to use Twitter.) So I now tend to avoid both of them.

  4. Paul Burns

    I can hardly work out to use Facebook nowadays. It seems much more complicated than when I first went on it. (And I still can’t work out how to use Twitter.) So I now tend to avoid both of them.

  5. Andyc

    Following on from T. Rex @ 1: but it does need to be Our ABC, not Windbrechtsen’s!

  6. Andyc

    Following on from T. Rex @ 1: but it does need to be Our ABC, not Windbrechtsen’s!

  7. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    It’s nice to see what Zuckerberg really thinks: Facebook founder called trusting users dumb f*cks. (Worth it alone for the infographic on the right.)

  8. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    It’s nice to see what Zuckerberg really thinks: Facebook founder called trusting users dumb f*cks. (Worth it alone for the infographic on the right.)

  9. lomlate

    What really angers me about changes to facebook settings are not that they change the ‘default setting’. I honestly think most people don’t care about their privacy enough to change the ‘default setting’ and if facebook wants to exploit that then I say good on them

    What really angers me is that even as a privacy obsessed user, I can’t protect my data. I cannot stop the world from seeing the “pages – other” that I’m a fan of. I can’t stop the world from seeing my profile picture. Facebook is not offering me a choice. I now have an annoying facebook picture that covers my face and I don’t like several pages for community organisations simply because I don’t think it is the entire world’s business that I have joined.

    Why not give me the choice? I fail to understand.

  10. lomlate

    What really angers me about changes to facebook settings are not that they change the ‘default setting’. I honestly think most people don’t care about their privacy enough to change the ‘default setting’ and if facebook wants to exploit that then I say good on them

    What really angers me is that even as a privacy obsessed user, I can’t protect my data. I cannot stop the world from seeing the “pages – other” that I’m a fan of. I can’t stop the world from seeing my profile picture. Facebook is not offering me a choice. I now have an annoying facebook picture that covers my face and I don’t like several pages for community organisations simply because I don’t think it is the entire world’s business that I have joined.

    Why not give me the choice? I fail to understand.

  11. Ken Lovell

    I don’t get this at all, sorry. Facebook is what, three or four years old and suddenly it’s an essential utility like roads or telecommunications? Mark you might think your conclusion is ‘inescapable’ but it escapes me without any trouble at all.

    Utilities are things that most people need. Nobody needs Facebook. The fact that lots of people like it and use it does not make it a utility in need of regulating. Only five years ago the fad du jour was MySpace, and in Asia it tends to be Friendster. Are regulators really supposed to follow these fads and fashions because some of the users are not happy with the way the owners of the sites run them?

    Danah Boyd offers this from a commenter as justification for her position:

    I actually like the people I went to school with. I know that even if I write down all their email addresses, we are not going to stay in touch and recapture the recreated community we’ve built on Facebook. I like my colleagues who work elsewhere, and I know that we have mailing lists and Twitter, but I also know that without Facebook I won’t be in touch with their daily lives as I’ve been these last few years. I like the people I’ve met briefly or hope I’ll meet soon, and I know that Facebook remains our best way to keep in touch without the effort we would probably not take of engaging in sustained one-to-one communication.

    The idea that someone wants to stay in touch with hundreds of people is just bizarre. I have no idea how this person ever does anything useful, if s/he is seriously trying to keep in touch with people s/he went to school with, and old workmates, and ‘people I’ve met briefly’. Why in god’s name anyone wants to ‘be in touch with the daily lives’ of all these people escapes me completely, and a handful of years’ experience is quite inadequate to conclude that this constitutes a new social phenomenon that is so pervasive it justifies government intervention. To me it just sounds like someone who should get a life instead of being a serial voyeur.

    I suspended my Facebook account withing days of opening it because it offered me nothing useful. Most people I’ve mentioned it to say they opened it because it seemed a bit of fun (usually they transferred from MySpace, which they had joined for the same reason) and after a brief flurry of activity, they barely look at it any more. There are simply no grounds for arguing that Facebook has become so established in the lives of the majority of people that it’s a ‘common good’ requiring regulation in the public interest.

    People who have volunteered to be ‘unpaid labourers in the social media industry’ have done so with their eyes open. Nobody with any brains believed Murdoch paid half a billion dollars for MySpace because he wanted to help people stay in touch with their schoolmates. He did it because it’s a giant database. It’s a bit rich for anyone to say they have eagerly joined these sites but now they don’t like the way they are being run, so the government should take over.

    One minute we have people screaming that the government should stay out of internet content filtering, then within days there are calls for the government to ‘heavily regulate’ the way a private entity is running their web network. This kind of approbating and reprobating suggests that assertions about the role of government tend to be opportunistic as opposed to being based on principle. And if Facebook is an essential utility requiring heavy regulation or transference to the public sector, the same arguments apply tenfold to Google and Skype.

    Not one of your more persuasive pieces, Mark.

  12. Ken Lovell

    I don’t get this at all, sorry. Facebook is what, three or four years old and suddenly it’s an essential utility like roads or telecommunications? Mark you might think your conclusion is ‘inescapable’ but it escapes me without any trouble at all.

    Utilities are things that most people need. Nobody needs Facebook. The fact that lots of people like it and use it does not make it a utility in need of regulating. Only five years ago the fad du jour was MySpace, and in Asia it tends to be Friendster. Are regulators really supposed to follow these fads and fashions because some of the users are not happy with the way the owners of the sites run them?

    Danah Boyd offers this from a commenter as justification for her position:

    I actually like the people I went to school with. I know that even if I write down all their email addresses, we are not going to stay in touch and recapture the recreated community we’ve built on Facebook. I like my colleagues who work elsewhere, and I know that we have mailing lists and Twitter, but I also know that without Facebook I won’t be in touch with their daily lives as I’ve been these last few years. I like the people I’ve met briefly or hope I’ll meet soon, and I know that Facebook remains our best way to keep in touch without the effort we would probably not take of engaging in sustained one-to-one communication.

    The idea that someone wants to stay in touch with hundreds of people is just bizarre. I have no idea how this person ever does anything useful, if s/he is seriously trying to keep in touch with people s/he went to school with, and old workmates, and ‘people I’ve met briefly’. Why in god’s name anyone wants to ‘be in touch with the daily lives’ of all these people escapes me completely, and a handful of years’ experience is quite inadequate to conclude that this constitutes a new social phenomenon that is so pervasive it justifies government intervention. To me it just sounds like someone who should get a life instead of being a serial voyeur.

    I suspended my Facebook account withing days of opening it because it offered me nothing useful. Most people I’ve mentioned it to say they opened it because it seemed a bit of fun (usually they transferred from MySpace, which they had joined for the same reason) and after a brief flurry of activity, they barely look at it any more. There are simply no grounds for arguing that Facebook has become so established in the lives of the majority of people that it’s a ‘common good’ requiring regulation in the public interest.

    People who have volunteered to be ‘unpaid labourers in the social media industry’ have done so with their eyes open. Nobody with any brains believed Murdoch paid half a billion dollars for MySpace because he wanted to help people stay in touch with their schoolmates. He did it because it’s a giant database. It’s a bit rich for anyone to say they have eagerly joined these sites but now they don’t like the way they are being run, so the government should take over.

    One minute we have people screaming that the government should stay out of internet content filtering, then within days there are calls for the government to ‘heavily regulate’ the way a private entity is running their web network. This kind of approbating and reprobating suggests that assertions about the role of government tend to be opportunistic as opposed to being based on principle. And if Facebook is an essential utility requiring heavy regulation or transference to the public sector, the same arguments apply tenfold to Google and Skype.

    Not one of your more persuasive pieces, Mark.

  13. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Mark, Tyro and AndyC: I’ve got no problem with Aunty running a social network site rivaling Facebook – except one. A single organisation is a single point of failure – vulnerable to odd, bizarre and inconsistent censorship. For example, groups providing DIY Euthanasia information would have a precarious existence on the site. Personally, I fear Albrechtsen less than Conroy.

    What I’d prefer is a distributed effort – say between Aunty and 10 or so Australian university computer science departments. It’s the latter group that would have the background to do it right, rather than right now.

    lomlate: I’m guessing that Facebook doesn’t give you the choice for two reasons. The first reason is that it was designed badly from the outset, with scanty thought to privacy, or consistency. A few snippets from Thomas Baekdal bear this out:

    Facebook is really big, it has a ton of features. But, it is also turning into the worst case of complexity overload the web has seen in years. There are so many inconsistencies that it is hard to believe – or even to keep track of.

    To give you a few examples. We got profiles, groups, pages, and now also community pages – who all looks rather similar, but works quite differently.

    We got inconsistencies in likes and comments. If you comment on a page, you do so as “the page,” but if you like it, you do so as “you as a person…”

    The number of privacy settings is just staggering. When I, a few days ago, had to help a family member setup her Facebook profile, I just showed her the one profile privacy settings (with 12 options), choosing not to mention the 16 other places where there are even more settings to adjust.

    It all sounds borked, with recent efforts to retrofit privacy making it even worse and inconsistent. So the short answer, lomlate, is that Facebook can’t provide you the choice.

    I guess the second reason is that Zuckerberg is also quite aware that the system is FUBAR as far as privacy is concerned. What’s easier to resolve the situation? Spend a few tens of millions redesigning the system. Or a few tens of thousands justifying the situation with half-addled appeals to “social consensus”?

  14. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Mark, Tyro and AndyC: I’ve got no problem with Aunty running a social network site rivaling Facebook – except one. A single organisation is a single point of failure – vulnerable to odd, bizarre and inconsistent censorship. For example, groups providing DIY Euthanasia information would have a precarious existence on the site. Personally, I fear Albrechtsen less than Conroy.

    What I’d prefer is a distributed effort – say between Aunty and 10 or so Australian university computer science departments. It’s the latter group that would have the background to do it right, rather than right now.

    lomlate: I’m guessing that Facebook doesn’t give you the choice for two reasons. The first reason is that it was designed badly from the outset, with scanty thought to privacy, or consistency. A few snippets from Thomas Baekdal bear this out:

    Facebook is really big, it has a ton of features. But, it is also turning into the worst case of complexity overload the web has seen in years. There are so many inconsistencies that it is hard to believe – or even to keep track of.

    To give you a few examples. We got profiles, groups, pages, and now also community pages – who all looks rather similar, but works quite differently.

    We got inconsistencies in likes and comments. If you comment on a page, you do so as “the page,” but if you like it, you do so as “you as a person…”

    The number of privacy settings is just staggering. When I, a few days ago, had to help a family member setup her Facebook profile, I just showed her the one profile privacy settings (with 12 options), choosing not to mention the 16 other places where there are even more settings to adjust.

    It all sounds borked, with recent efforts to retrofit privacy making it even worse and inconsistent. So the short answer, lomlate, is that Facebook can’t provide you the choice.

    I guess the second reason is that Zuckerberg is also quite aware that the system is FUBAR as far as privacy is concerned. What’s easier to resolve the situation? Spend a few tens of millions redesigning the system. Or a few tens of thousands justifying the situation with half-addled appeals to “social consensus”?

  15. Mark

    @6 – Ken, you should always be wary of extrapolating from your own experience. It may be that you and your friends don’t see the point of Facebook, but all the stats show that a very large number of people spend an enormous amount of time on it. I don’t regard being able to share with others what you are doing and what you are interested in as at all trivial.

  16. Mark

    @6 – Ken, you should always be wary of extrapolating from your own experience. It may be that you and your friends don’t see the point of Facebook, but all the stats show that a very large number of people spend an enormous amount of time on it. I don’t regard being able to share with others what you are doing and what you are interested in as at all trivial.

  17. Ken Lovell

    Mark in the absence of any other data, one’s own experience is all one has to go on. Can you link to some of the stats you refer to, or provide a reference? All I’ve ever seen are raw numbers, which tell us nothing about the uses to which members put these sites, or how many of the registered users engage in regular meaningful activity. ‘The average user has 100 friends’ type stats don’t tell us much.

  18. Ken Lovell

    Mark in the absence of any other data, one’s own experience is all one has to go on. Can you link to some of the stats you refer to, or provide a reference? All I’ve ever seen are raw numbers, which tell us nothing about the uses to which members put these sites, or how many of the registered users engage in regular meaningful activity. ‘The average user has 100 friends’ type stats don’t tell us much.

  19. Mark

    @9 – sure, Ken:

    http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Social-Media-and-Young-Adults.aspx

    You might also like to consult the section in this report by Axel Bruns and myself on Facebook:

    http://eprints.qut.edu.au/21206/

  20. Mark

    @9 – sure, Ken:

    http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Social-Media-and-Young-Adults.aspx

    You might also like to consult the section in this report by Axel Bruns and myself on Facebook:

    http://eprints.qut.edu.au/21206/

  21. Chris

    An open source alternative is unlikely to generate the scale necessary.

    I think thats a pretty bold statement to be making and without wanting to be rude makes me wonder if you understand what open source in the software context is?

    To quote from facebook’s own information on its infrastructure:

    Facebook has been developed from the ground up using open source software. Not only do we use a lot of open source, but our engineering team has released and contributed to many different projects. Developers not only build with Connect and Platform, but then scale using many of the same infrastructure technologies that we use.

    So to say that open source is not capable of doing a facebook equivalent is a bit nonsensical as a lot of facebook (especially the scalability part) is built upon open source software.

    However there is a point to be made that having the software is one thing, and having the technical expertise and money to setup and maintain such a large site is another matter.

    I think the article you link to about openeness has some good points. Having a government organisation run the system will not solve all the problems. They’ll also stuff up with regards to privacy. And whilst I know facebook wants my private information to make money, the government will end up using it for more insidious ends – censorship just being a start.

    So rather than having one organisation run it like Down and Out of Sài Gòn mentioned the aim should be that many organisations are involved. But unlike Down and Out mentioned I don’t think the government should be pushing an Australian facebook – after all that will be just as vulnerable to government censorship and mainpulation as one run by the ABC. Instead if they want to be involved and see it as a public good they should be encouraging and facilitating the development of open standard protocols which allow multiple organisations and individuals to participate in a facebook like environment. Everything from large private and government organisations to someone with their own server. Technically literate people could run their own server, others could use the service via say ISP run services or government ones if they wish.

    Fundamentally what is needed is the development of the protocol that allows people to exchange information and control how and to whom that information is initially shared with. What we need is interoperability. I think an analogy can be made with web servers. You can either have one organisation hosting all the web pages with all the problems that entails or you can develop a protocol that allows anyone to host their own web server (or use the services of a third party to do so) and link the information they host with other people.

    Not surprisingly there are already individuals and organisations involved in this sort of thing (I’ve seen talks on open twitter equivalents for example). I’d really hate to see an organisation like the ABC waste a bunch of money trying to build their own facebook when they could instead be participating in the development of an equivalent that everyone could benefit from.

  22. Chris

    An open source alternative is unlikely to generate the scale necessary.

    I think thats a pretty bold statement to be making and without wanting to be rude makes me wonder if you understand what open source in the software context is?

    To quote from facebook’s own information on its infrastructure:

    Facebook has been developed from the ground up using open source software. Not only do we use a lot of open source, but our engineering team has released and contributed to many different projects. Developers not only build with Connect and Platform, but then scale using many of the same infrastructure technologies that we use.

    So to say that open source is not capable of doing a facebook equivalent is a bit nonsensical as a lot of facebook (especially the scalability part) is built upon open source software.

    However there is a point to be made that having the software is one thing, and having the technical expertise and money to setup and maintain such a large site is another matter.

    I think the article you link to about openeness has some good points. Having a government organisation run the system will not solve all the problems. They’ll also stuff up with regards to privacy. And whilst I know facebook wants my private information to make money, the government will end up using it for more insidious ends – censorship just being a start.

    So rather than having one organisation run it like Down and Out of Sài Gòn mentioned the aim should be that many organisations are involved. But unlike Down and Out mentioned I don’t think the government should be pushing an Australian facebook – after all that will be just as vulnerable to government censorship and mainpulation as one run by the ABC. Instead if they want to be involved and see it as a public good they should be encouraging and facilitating the development of open standard protocols which allow multiple organisations and individuals to participate in a facebook like environment. Everything from large private and government organisations to someone with their own server. Technically literate people could run their own server, others could use the service via say ISP run services or government ones if they wish.

    Fundamentally what is needed is the development of the protocol that allows people to exchange information and control how and to whom that information is initially shared with. What we need is interoperability. I think an analogy can be made with web servers. You can either have one organisation hosting all the web pages with all the problems that entails or you can develop a protocol that allows anyone to host their own web server (or use the services of a third party to do so) and link the information they host with other people.

    Not surprisingly there are already individuals and organisations involved in this sort of thing (I’ve seen talks on open twitter equivalents for example). I’d really hate to see an organisation like the ABC waste a bunch of money trying to build their own facebook when they could instead be participating in the development of an equivalent that everyone could benefit from.

  23. Rob

    @ 9 Ken, you don’t need empirical evidence to appreciate how pervasive online networking is nowadays.

    As much as you may not believe that Facebook meets the definition of a utility in the true sense, the fact of the matter is that many people do. I agree with your sentiment: it’s a shame the way in which many now feel that they need establish and maintain relationships online. And yes, punters should have the nous. But the average human being doesn’t think about the motives of Messrs. Zuckerberg or Murdoch, and whether their interests are being upheld as they log on, update their status, slag off co-workers and employers, and post raunchy photos of themselves. You’ve given the medium the big middle finger; good on you. Others, however, define themselves by it. As a result, it’s changing the interplay of the public and private sphere. Corporates remunerated on the basis of maximising the reach of these networks presents an opportunity – rightly or wrongly – to disseminate one’s information. Users, in the privacy of their own home, will continue to believe that their information is secure, and that they are merely communicating with their “friends”. So these (vested) interests and expectations need to, at some point, be reconciled – especially given the context of its relentless growth over recent years.

  24. Rob

    @ 9 Ken, you don’t need empirical evidence to appreciate how pervasive online networking is nowadays.

    As much as you may not believe that Facebook meets the definition of a utility in the true sense, the fact of the matter is that many people do. I agree with your sentiment: it’s a shame the way in which many now feel that they need establish and maintain relationships online. And yes, punters should have the nous. But the average human being doesn’t think about the motives of Messrs. Zuckerberg or Murdoch, and whether their interests are being upheld as they log on, update their status, slag off co-workers and employers, and post raunchy photos of themselves. You’ve given the medium the big middle finger; good on you. Others, however, define themselves by it. As a result, it’s changing the interplay of the public and private sphere. Corporates remunerated on the basis of maximising the reach of these networks presents an opportunity – rightly or wrongly – to disseminate one’s information. Users, in the privacy of their own home, will continue to believe that their information is secure, and that they are merely communicating with their “friends”. So these (vested) interests and expectations need to, at some point, be reconciled – especially given the context of its relentless growth over recent years.

  25. Mark

    @11 – Chris, I may not have expressed myself well.

    However there is a point to be made that having the software is one thing, and having the technical expertise and money to setup and maintain such a large site is another matter.

    That’s really what I was getting at. You would also need to have very significant reach and marketing expertise to lure enough people away from Facebook.

    Perhaps the best model would be a Public/Open partnership where development is community driven, and resources provided by the state.

  26. Mark

    @11 – Chris, I may not have expressed myself well.

    However there is a point to be made that having the software is one thing, and having the technical expertise and money to setup and maintain such a large site is another matter.

    That’s really what I was getting at. You would also need to have very significant reach and marketing expertise to lure enough people away from Facebook.

    Perhaps the best model would be a Public/Open partnership where development is community driven, and resources provided by the state.

  27. Mark

    @12 – Rob, I agree with a lot of what you say, but I think this is a bit glib:

    they log on, update their status, slag off co-workers and employers, and post raunchy photos of themselves.

    There are a lot of other uses for Facebook, which are non-commercial – ie sharing posts and videos, communicating quickly with friends and family members across very distant space, event organisation and management, raising awareness of community, political and non-profit groups and campaigns, even debating public issues – for instance, this isn’t the only LP thread where there’s a parallel and equally interesting debate occurring on my link on my own FB page.

  28. Mark

    @12 – Rob, I agree with a lot of what you say, but I think this is a bit glib:

    they log on, update their status, slag off co-workers and employers, and post raunchy photos of themselves.

    There are a lot of other uses for Facebook, which are non-commercial – ie sharing posts and videos, communicating quickly with friends and family members across very distant space, event organisation and management, raising awareness of community, political and non-profit groups and campaigns, even debating public issues – for instance, this isn’t the only LP thread where there’s a parallel and equally interesting debate occurring on my link on my own FB page.

  29. Chris

    A couple of comments about privacy. I don’t post anything to facebook – photos or text – that I wouldn’t mind being completely public. Read by my wife, my employer or my mum. The changes in privacy controls with facebook have been annoying because the defaults are wrong. The default should be to keep the information as private as it was before. Prompting and encouraging people to be more open would be fine though.

    I think a lot of people new to social media just don’t think about the consequences of everyone they know reading what they write or seeing photos of what they post. And few people would want what they said when they were young coming back to haunt them when they’re older. But the internet has a long memory. If its not facebook remembering what you said it may be some 3rd party website archiver. And google will helpfully aid those searching for information about you. Many people only realise the implications of what they have posted when they it turns around and bites them.

    And remember, without strong encryption, even writing an email is like sending postcards. Everyone inbetween has an opportunity to read it if they wish.

    Ken – I’m one of those who has over a hundred “friends” on facebook and finds it very useful (along with twitter). Includes people from school, university, past and present work colleagues as well as current friends who I would meet in real life. Its useful from a work point of view too – keeping in touch with what people in similar fields are working on – lots of interesting information just gets dropped in my lap without me having to search for it. And with current work colleagues knowing a bit about people’s personal life helps with communication, especially when I’m working with people I’ve never met.

  30. Chris

    A couple of comments about privacy. I don’t post anything to facebook – photos or text – that I wouldn’t mind being completely public. Read by my wife, my employer or my mum. The changes in privacy controls with facebook have been annoying because the defaults are wrong. The default should be to keep the information as private as it was before. Prompting and encouraging people to be more open would be fine though.

    I think a lot of people new to social media just don’t think about the consequences of everyone they know reading what they write or seeing photos of what they post. And few people would want what they said when they were young coming back to haunt them when they’re older. But the internet has a long memory. If its not facebook remembering what you said it may be some 3rd party website archiver. And google will helpfully aid those searching for information about you. Many people only realise the implications of what they have posted when they it turns around and bites them.

    And remember, without strong encryption, even writing an email is like sending postcards. Everyone inbetween has an opportunity to read it if they wish.

    Ken – I’m one of those who has over a hundred “friends” on facebook and finds it very useful (along with twitter). Includes people from school, university, past and present work colleagues as well as current friends who I would meet in real life. Its useful from a work point of view too – keeping in touch with what people in similar fields are working on – lots of interesting information just gets dropped in my lap without me having to search for it. And with current work colleagues knowing a bit about people’s personal life helps with communication, especially when I’m working with people I’ve never met.

  31. Rob

    @ 14

    Mark … touché.

  32. Rob

    @ 14

    Mark … touché.

  33. Ken Lovell

    Well with respect Rob, I like to have empirical evidence before I make judgements about the need for government regulation.

    Thanks Mark for the links. The Pew report only provides the kind of raw data I referred to before, which doesn’t tell us much about the role that these sites play in people’s lives. Your own report pretty much sums up my feelings on p 16:

    Discussion of social media usage trends in Australia is hampered by the paucity of relevant up-to-date data. While some propositions can be made about the increasing popularity of social media sites, and the embedding of social media in everyday life from existing international and national data, little pertinent research has so far been conducted on usage, demographics and motivations of users in the Australian context. Our hope is that this gap can be filled to some extent by further work we are doing on this current project. So this analysis of statistics must be taken at this stage to be indicative rather than definitive.

    The first point to note is that both international and Australian data discloses that
    social networking has been something of a minority pursuit among general Internet users.

    I’m not suggesting your argument is wrong; just that there is insufficient data to make any particular conclusions ‘inescapable’. As the Pew report states, the number of bloggers has crashed and who’s not to say that Facebook won’t go the same way? As of now I would class it as a phenomenal fad that outdid even the yo-yo, but it will be many years before we can confidently assess its place within the community and whether it will have become something akin to a utility.

    Having helped a few people make a social networking site, which they thought was great fun but hardly ever visited again, my gut feeling is it will shrink to being a specialty interest over a period of years, but it’s all very speculative at the moment.

  34. Ken Lovell

    Well with respect Rob, I like to have empirical evidence before I make judgements about the need for government regulation.

    Thanks Mark for the links. The Pew report only provides the kind of raw data I referred to before, which doesn’t tell us much about the role that these sites play in people’s lives. Your own report pretty much sums up my feelings on p 16:

    Discussion of social media usage trends in Australia is hampered by the paucity of relevant up-to-date data. While some propositions can be made about the increasing popularity of social media sites, and the embedding of social media in everyday life from existing international and national data, little pertinent research has so far been conducted on usage, demographics and motivations of users in the Australian context. Our hope is that this gap can be filled to some extent by further work we are doing on this current project. So this analysis of statistics must be taken at this stage to be indicative rather than definitive.

    The first point to note is that both international and Australian data discloses that
    social networking has been something of a minority pursuit among general Internet users.

    I’m not suggesting your argument is wrong; just that there is insufficient data to make any particular conclusions ‘inescapable’. As the Pew report states, the number of bloggers has crashed and who’s not to say that Facebook won’t go the same way? As of now I would class it as a phenomenal fad that outdid even the yo-yo, but it will be many years before we can confidently assess its place within the community and whether it will have become something akin to a utility.

    Having helped a few people make a social networking site, which they thought was great fun but hardly ever visited again, my gut feeling is it will shrink to being a specialty interest over a period of years, but it’s all very speculative at the moment.

  35. Mark

    @17 – Ken, yes, but that bit has been somewhat overtaken by events if you take the trouble to look at subsequent data on which sites are the most visited – you can see that, if you care to, by having a look at the same data sources we were drawing on in their most recent iterations. I wrote that bit back in February last year.

    FWIW, I think Pew is spot on in identifying the information sharing role of social media as being correlated with the decline in blogging.

    I can also assure you that having taught New Communications Technologies to 17 and 18 year olds, social media usage is pervasive, if not the concept of being a ‘content creator’. I agree that one should not rush to conclusions, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that a Facebook style platform, even if it’s not Facebook itself, will continue to be a very important part of people’s day to day communication and sociality for quite some time to come.

  36. Mark

    @17 – Ken, yes, but that bit has been somewhat overtaken by events if you take the trouble to look at subsequent data on which sites are the most visited – you can see that, if you care to, by having a look at the same data sources we were drawing on in their most recent iterations. I wrote that bit back in February last year.

    FWIW, I think Pew is spot on in identifying the information sharing role of social media as being correlated with the decline in blogging.

    I can also assure you that having taught New Communications Technologies to 17 and 18 year olds, social media usage is pervasive, if not the concept of being a ‘content creator’. I agree that one should not rush to conclusions, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that a Facebook style platform, even if it’s not Facebook itself, will continue to be a very important part of people’s day to day communication and sociality for quite some time to come.

  37. zoot

    I have no expertise with Facebook; I have an account, but I don’t really use it. On the other hand, my children and their cousins (all adults and scattered over a wide area) use it to keep in touch and it appears generally to be a good thing for them.
    I suspect Ken is on the money in suggesting that Facebook will eventually go the way of the yoyo. Isn’t that what happened to Myspace?

  38. zoot

    I have no expertise with Facebook; I have an account, but I don’t really use it. On the other hand, my children and their cousins (all adults and scattered over a wide area) use it to keep in touch and it appears generally to be a good thing for them.
    I suspect Ken is on the money in suggesting that Facebook will eventually go the way of the yoyo. Isn’t that what happened to Myspace?

  39. Mark

    Incidentally, this is an interesting presentation on the US data on the takeup and demographics of adult social networking use from 2005 to 2009:

    http://www.pewinternet.org/Presentations/2009/41–The-Democratization-of-Online-Social-Networks.aspx

  40. Mark

    Incidentally, this is an interesting presentation on the US data on the takeup and demographics of adult social networking use from 2005 to 2009:

    http://www.pewinternet.org/Presentations/2009/41–The-Democratization-of-Online-Social-Networks.aspx

  41. Ken Lovell

    Mark @ 18 I agree with your conclusion with the single word amendment I’ve capitalised: ‘I think it’s pretty safe to say that a Facebook style platform, even if it’s not Facebook itself, will continue to be a very important part of SOME people’s day to day communication and sociality for quite some time to come.’

    And therein lie some of the difficulties I suggest. You are talking about ‘Facebook style platforms’, not Facebook – the definitional problems are self-evident.

    However the core issue is that we engage in lots of non-trivial activities but it’s a leap from that to ‘the inescapable conclusion … that [Facebook] should either be heavily regulated, or a public entity should occupy its position.’ I can’t think of any theory of the state that leads automatically to such a conclusion.

    My main concern is that this line of reasoning – ‘It’s important to people therefore it ought to be regulated’ – cannot possible be contained just to social networking. The irresistible conclusion is that therefore ALL internet activity ought to be regulated, because the internet itself is vitally important to virtually everybody and will only become more so. I’m sure you can make an argument distinguishing the case for regulating Facebook from the case for Conroy’s internet filter but surely you must recognise that such subtle distinctions will disappear in the rough and tumble of political discourse. You’ll either be co-opted into the ‘regulate the internet’ camp or dismissed as having self-serving double standards.

    And I doubt that you can even make a case for regulating Facebook on grounds that leave Yahoo, Skype, Google, Microsoft, Apple etc untouched. This easy acceptance of the principle of government intervention on the grounds that a private sector activity has become important in people’s lives seems an open invitation to all kinds of objectionable regulation and censorship.

  42. Ken Lovell

    Mark @ 18 I agree with your conclusion with the single word amendment I’ve capitalised: ‘I think it’s pretty safe to say that a Facebook style platform, even if it’s not Facebook itself, will continue to be a very important part of SOME people’s day to day communication and sociality for quite some time to come.’

    And therein lie some of the difficulties I suggest. You are talking about ‘Facebook style platforms’, not Facebook – the definitional problems are self-evident.

    However the core issue is that we engage in lots of non-trivial activities but it’s a leap from that to ‘the inescapable conclusion … that [Facebook] should either be heavily regulated, or a public entity should occupy its position.’ I can’t think of any theory of the state that leads automatically to such a conclusion.

    My main concern is that this line of reasoning – ‘It’s important to people therefore it ought to be regulated’ – cannot possible be contained just to social networking. The irresistible conclusion is that therefore ALL internet activity ought to be regulated, because the internet itself is vitally important to virtually everybody and will only become more so. I’m sure you can make an argument distinguishing the case for regulating Facebook from the case for Conroy’s internet filter but surely you must recognise that such subtle distinctions will disappear in the rough and tumble of political discourse. You’ll either be co-opted into the ‘regulate the internet’ camp or dismissed as having self-serving double standards.

    And I doubt that you can even make a case for regulating Facebook on grounds that leave Yahoo, Skype, Google, Microsoft, Apple etc untouched. This easy acceptance of the principle of government intervention on the grounds that a private sector activity has become important in people’s lives seems an open invitation to all kinds of objectionable regulation and censorship.

  43. Mark

    Ken, but your argument could also be turned into one against regulation in toto. There’s unacceptable regulation, and good regulation. There’s also a big difference between mandating how private companies use our data and the content we create or share and censorship. A whole host of regulations and legislation exists precisely to stop unwarranted interference by corporates in individual’s choices and actions. And so it should. As I said, the whole libertarian style ‘information must be free’ argument is precisely the wrong frame to apply to this issue.

  44. Mark

    Ken, but your argument could also be turned into one against regulation in toto. There’s unacceptable regulation, and good regulation. There’s also a big difference between mandating how private companies use our data and the content we create or share and censorship. A whole host of regulations and legislation exists precisely to stop unwarranted interference by corporates in individual’s choices and actions. And so it should. As I said, the whole libertarian style ‘information must be free’ argument is precisely the wrong frame to apply to this issue.

  45. Ken Lovell

    Mark that’s all very nebulous. It’s not an important enough issue to continue the discussion forever, but the onus is surely on the supporters of regulation to make a case, not on sceptics to demonstrate that regulation isn’t appropriate.

    Can I ask exactly what kind of regulation you want? You seem to have veered between regulating Facebook and discussing ‘Facebook style platforms’ and it’s not clear who you want included in the regulatory regime or what you want the regulations to prescribe. The discussion gets a bit abstract without that kind of detail.

  46. Ken Lovell

    Mark that’s all very nebulous. It’s not an important enough issue to continue the discussion forever, but the onus is surely on the supporters of regulation to make a case, not on sceptics to demonstrate that regulation isn’t appropriate.

    Can I ask exactly what kind of regulation you want? You seem to have veered between regulating Facebook and discussing ‘Facebook style platforms’ and it’s not clear who you want included in the regulatory regime or what you want the regulations to prescribe. The discussion gets a bit abstract without that kind of detail.

  47. Mark

    @23 – Ken, I thought I was being reasonably clear. I’d endorse most of what danah boyd said in the post I’ve linked to:

    http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2010/05/15/facebook-is-a-utility-utilities-get-regulated.html

    I get the sense that you haven’t had a look at the links I’ve suggested people read to get some idea of what the objections to what Facebook is doing are, and what it is doing. Perhaps that’s because you disagree with the premise that this is something important, but I don’t think we’re getting very far in this particular discussion.

  48. Mark

    @23 – Ken, I thought I was being reasonably clear. I’d endorse most of what danah boyd said in the post I’ve linked to:

    http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2010/05/15/facebook-is-a-utility-utilities-get-regulated.html

    I get the sense that you haven’t had a look at the links I’ve suggested people read to get some idea of what the objections to what Facebook is doing are, and what it is doing. Perhaps that’s because you disagree with the premise that this is something important, but I don’t think we’re getting very far in this particular discussion.

  49. Mark

    Andrew Brown – “we are Facebook’s product, not its customers”:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2010/may/14/facebook-not-your-friend

  50. Mark

    Andrew Brown – “we are Facebook’s product, not its customers”:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2010/may/14/facebook-not-your-friend

  51. Ken Lovell

    Mark I agree we’re not getting anywhere and I won’t pursue the discussion, but the old ‘gosh it’s all in the links why don’t you go read them’ line won’t wash. I did read them, and they don’t answer my questions.

    Here’s Danah Boyd in the link you cite as being ‘reasonably clear’:

    Personally, I don’t care whether or not Facebook alone gets regulated, but regulation’s impact tends to extend much further than one company. And I worry about what kinds of regulation we’ll see. Don’t get me wrong: I think that regulators will come in with the best of intentions; they often (but not always) do. I just think that what they decide will have unintended consequences that are far more harmful than helpful and this makes me angry at Facebook for playing chicken with them. I’m not a libertarian but I’ve come to respect libertarian fears of government regulation because regulation often does backfire in some of the most frustrating ways. (A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter to be included in the COPPA hearings outlining why the intention behind COPPA was great and the result dreadful.) The difference is that I’m not so against regulation as to not welcome it when people are being screwed. And sadly, I think that we’re getting there.

    Well that may be reasonably clear to you but I’m afraid it’s incoherent stream-of-consciousness blather to me, and it tells me nothing about the kind of ‘heavy regulation’ you and Danah Boyd support as an ‘inescapable conclusion’. But I’ll let it rest … the level of interest by other commenters suggests it’s a trivial issue.

  52. Ken Lovell

    Mark I agree we’re not getting anywhere and I won’t pursue the discussion, but the old ‘gosh it’s all in the links why don’t you go read them’ line won’t wash. I did read them, and they don’t answer my questions.

    Here’s Danah Boyd in the link you cite as being ‘reasonably clear’:

    Personally, I don’t care whether or not Facebook alone gets regulated, but regulation’s impact tends to extend much further than one company. And I worry about what kinds of regulation we’ll see. Don’t get me wrong: I think that regulators will come in with the best of intentions; they often (but not always) do. I just think that what they decide will have unintended consequences that are far more harmful than helpful and this makes me angry at Facebook for playing chicken with them. I’m not a libertarian but I’ve come to respect libertarian fears of government regulation because regulation often does backfire in some of the most frustrating ways. (A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter to be included in the COPPA hearings outlining why the intention behind COPPA was great and the result dreadful.) The difference is that I’m not so against regulation as to not welcome it when people are being screwed. And sadly, I think that we’re getting there.

    Well that may be reasonably clear to you but I’m afraid it’s incoherent stream-of-consciousness blather to me, and it tells me nothing about the kind of ‘heavy regulation’ you and Danah Boyd support as an ‘inescapable conclusion’. But I’ll let it rest … the level of interest by other commenters suggests it’s a trivial issue.

  53. Mark

    the level of interest by other commenters suggests it’s a trivial issue.

    … or maybe that’s because it’s a Sunday, Ken. I’m sorry, in any case, you don’t find the deliberate exploitation of people’s lives through selling their data and breaching their privacy by a huge capitalist concern for profit to be an important issue.

  54. Mark

    the level of interest by other commenters suggests it’s a trivial issue.

    … or maybe that’s because it’s a Sunday, Ken. I’m sorry, in any case, you don’t find the deliberate exploitation of people’s lives through selling their data and breaching their privacy by a huge capitalist concern for profit to be an important issue.

  55. jules

    Privacy?

    Facebook was sus from day one, as anyone who looked into it when it started gathering momentum would have realised. It was set up to be a huge data mine.

    I’m sorry, in any case, you don’t find the deliberate exploitation of people’s lives through selling their data and breaching their privacy by a huge capitalist concern for profit to be an important issue.

    Of course thats an issue. But it was obvious from day one. Thats why I never joined. Tho it would be so handy for keeping in touch with a few people.

    That was the plan all along, and thats a choice I don’t want to make. (ie I don’t mind a trade off for a benefit, but I’ll choose not to make that trade off.)

    Everyone that joined made their choice. If they didn’t want to take the time and make the effort to see what they were getting into thats their lookout. FFS its the internet.

    What was that song called – Give me convenience or give me a brain.

  56. jules

    Privacy?

    Facebook was sus from day one, as anyone who looked into it when it started gathering momentum would have realised. It was set up to be a huge data mine.

    I’m sorry, in any case, you don’t find the deliberate exploitation of people’s lives through selling their data and breaching their privacy by a huge capitalist concern for profit to be an important issue.

    Of course thats an issue. But it was obvious from day one. Thats why I never joined. Tho it would be so handy for keeping in touch with a few people.

    That was the plan all along, and thats a choice I don’t want to make. (ie I don’t mind a trade off for a benefit, but I’ll choose not to make that trade off.)

    Everyone that joined made their choice. If they didn’t want to take the time and make the effort to see what they were getting into thats their lookout. FFS its the internet.

    What was that song called – Give me convenience or give me a brain.

  57. Chris

    Mark @ 27 – I think Australia is trailing many other countries in terms of online privacy. I don’t think we need to heavily regulate sites like facebook but establishing some clear rules about who owns personal data and that web sites must declare how data is used would be very helpful. And if individuals are to own their data then requiring that information about them be deleted on request.

    Sites like LP end up collecting quite a bit of data on regular contributors. Perhaps I’ve missed it but I haven’t been able to find a privacy policy on this site. For example although it says email addresses won’t be published, but would they be shared with other entities if requested? And IP address information would potentially allow someone to track where people work, live and travel (targeted advertising?). Even how long are this data is kept for is important or if its ever scrubbed from backups?

    Organisations can end up collecting quite valuable information even if its not their intent.

  58. Chris

    Mark @ 27 – I think Australia is trailing many other countries in terms of online privacy. I don’t think we need to heavily regulate sites like facebook but establishing some clear rules about who owns personal data and that web sites must declare how data is used would be very helpful. And if individuals are to own their data then requiring that information about them be deleted on request.

    Sites like LP end up collecting quite a bit of data on regular contributors. Perhaps I’ve missed it but I haven’t been able to find a privacy policy on this site. For example although it says email addresses won’t be published, but would they be shared with other entities if requested? And IP address information would potentially allow someone to track where people work, live and travel (targeted advertising?). Even how long are this data is kept for is important or if its ever scrubbed from backups?

    Organisations can end up collecting quite valuable information even if its not their intent.

  59. Mark

    @29 – You’re right, Chris, it’s something we should think about. In practice, we would only ever use data people supply to contact them via email if a moderation matter requires, and to use IP addresses to restrict or end the participation of people who’ve breached comments policy. That’s it. But, then, we’re not a commercial entity.

  60. Mark

    @29 – You’re right, Chris, it’s something we should think about. In practice, we would only ever use data people supply to contact them via email if a moderation matter requires, and to use IP addresses to restrict or end the participation of people who’ve breached comments policy. That’s it. But, then, we’re not a commercial entity.

  61. Chris

    Mark – yes, and if I was really worried about privacy at LP I wouldn’t be here. This is not intended to be a criticism of LP, but I’m not convinced that organisations or individuals claiming “not commercial” and so not require a privacy policy is in practice sufficient. There are plenty of examples of non commercial projects eventually turning commercial or being bought by a commercial entity and all the data being transferred.

    So if there’s a need for government intervention this is an area where they could help. Eg draft up decent default privacy policies and require websites to publish some form of privacy policy if they collect personal information and ensure that those policies must travel with the data no matter who owns it.

  62. Chris

    Mark – yes, and if I was really worried about privacy at LP I wouldn’t be here. This is not intended to be a criticism of LP, but I’m not convinced that organisations or individuals claiming “not commercial” and so not require a privacy policy is in practice sufficient. There are plenty of examples of non commercial projects eventually turning commercial or being bought by a commercial entity and all the data being transferred.

    So if there’s a need for government intervention this is an area where they could help. Eg draft up decent default privacy policies and require websites to publish some form of privacy policy if they collect personal information and ensure that those policies must travel with the data no matter who owns it.

  63. Mark

    @31 – yes, Chris, I agree.

  64. Mark

    @31 – yes, Chris, I agree.

  65. Paul Burns

    My biographer, if I ever have one would find LP a very useful source. :)

  66. Paul Burns

    My biographer, if I ever have one would find LP a very useful source. :)

  67. LJS

    Just remember you’re the product, not the customer.

  68. LJS

    Just remember you’re the product, not the customer.

  69. jules

    I agree with chris (@31), but how would you implement it with offshore sites?

    (Not that you could, but people don’t just visit Australian websites… )

    Especially when so much time and effort is devoted to using information that was previously private or unavailable?

    Does that extend to banning adsense?

  70. jules

    I agree with chris (@31), but how would you implement it with offshore sites?

    (Not that you could, but people don’t just visit Australian websites… )

    Especially when so much time and effort is devoted to using information that was previously private or unavailable?

    Does that extend to banning adsense?

  71. Mark

    @35 – It’s one of those issues, jules, that needs to be handled either domestically in the jurisdiction in which sites originate or internationally. Facebook, for instance, has been subject to questions raised in US Senate hearings which may result in legislation.

  72. Mark

    @35 – It’s one of those issues, jules, that needs to be handled either domestically in the jurisdiction in which sites originate or internationally. Facebook, for instance, has been subject to questions raised in US Senate hearings which may result in legislation.

  73. Chris

    jules @ 35 – you are of course quite limited as to what you can do about overseas hosted and run sites. However at some point an organisation trying to monetize the data they have accumulated will need to do business with australian owned businesses or businesses which operate in Australia. And its at that point which you can make an effort to protect personal information.

    We should probably be looking to the EU countries for examples on how to try to protect personal information.

  74. Chris

    jules @ 35 – you are of course quite limited as to what you can do about overseas hosted and run sites. However at some point an organisation trying to monetize the data they have accumulated will need to do business with australian owned businesses or businesses which operate in Australia. And its at that point which you can make an effort to protect personal information.

    We should probably be looking to the EU countries for examples on how to try to protect personal information.

  75. jules

    Yeah I know mark, but ultimately with facebook, US legislation would leave me with no practical remedy at the moment. That’d probably change tho if a serious breach came up. Its big enough that an international class action could occur I spose.

    My understanding of facebook is that they mine all the data they can on members from everywhere, but that its not publically available. They manage the way the ads are delivered themselves and charge a fee to target members. Thats fine for now, but if the organisation is sold, its data is a valuable asset.

    Thats the same everywhere (online) tho. At least I assume it is. Its probably safer to assume that.

    The thing is, what are facebook’s TOS and their privacy arrangements?

    When you sign up and agree to their service are you signing away your privcy? I dunno cos I haven’t joined, but everyone I ask just shrugs.

    There was a case recently where someone or some org added a clause (I presume it was a joke, they said it was) in their TOS that said in return for using the product the user agreed to sell their soul to them.

    It was a while before anyone noticed.

    Now perhaps it would be a good idea to legislate that when a business changes ownership they have to destroy all personal data they hold not sell it, unless prior permission has been gained from the people that data profiles.

    But then there are whole industries now devoted to the use of mined data to enable well targeted advertising delivered via new media. Its huge business.

    I don’t have any answers for this, but wrt to facebook specifically its worth remembering that it developed as an open source intranet like thing at a uni in the states. It wouldn’t be that hard to replicate the actual concept.

  76. jules

    Yeah I know mark, but ultimately with facebook, US legislation would leave me with no practical remedy at the moment. That’d probably change tho if a serious breach came up. Its big enough that an international class action could occur I spose.

    My understanding of facebook is that they mine all the data they can on members from everywhere, but that its not publically available. They manage the way the ads are delivered themselves and charge a fee to target members. Thats fine for now, but if the organisation is sold, its data is a valuable asset.

    Thats the same everywhere (online) tho. At least I assume it is. Its probably safer to assume that.

    The thing is, what are facebook’s TOS and their privacy arrangements?

    When you sign up and agree to their service are you signing away your privcy? I dunno cos I haven’t joined, but everyone I ask just shrugs.

    There was a case recently where someone or some org added a clause (I presume it was a joke, they said it was) in their TOS that said in return for using the product the user agreed to sell their soul to them.

    It was a while before anyone noticed.

    Now perhaps it would be a good idea to legislate that when a business changes ownership they have to destroy all personal data they hold not sell it, unless prior permission has been gained from the people that data profiles.

    But then there are whole industries now devoted to the use of mined data to enable well targeted advertising delivered via new media. Its huge business.

    I don’t have any answers for this, but wrt to facebook specifically its worth remembering that it developed as an open source intranet like thing at a uni in the states. It wouldn’t be that hard to replicate the actual concept.

  77. Mark

    It wouldn’t be that hard to replicate the actual concept.

    Except that the work of getting 400 million people to join has already been done, so there’s a hell of a lot of inertia there.

    And like most other aspiring monopolies, FB would seek to litigate to entrench its advantage – cf. the assertion of IP rights over the “friend feed” and the related strategy of buying smaller businesses which might become competitors.

  78. Mark

    It wouldn’t be that hard to replicate the actual concept.

    Except that the work of getting 400 million people to join has already been done, so there’s a hell of a lot of inertia there.

    And like most other aspiring monopolies, FB would seek to litigate to entrench its advantage – cf. the assertion of IP rights over the “friend feed” and the related strategy of buying smaller businesses which might become competitors.

  79. jules
  80. jules
  81. Mitesh Solanki

    Mark, thank you for sharing things worth knowing. Topical issues indeed. I enjoyed reading your post and all the passionate comments. Nice quotes on Danah Boyd – she’s so on point (as always). BTW, I wrote this recently (on a similar subject) and thought you might find it interesting:

    http://miteshsolanki.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/bucksforbytes

  82. Mitesh Solanki

    Mark, thank you for sharing things worth knowing. Topical issues indeed. I enjoyed reading your post and all the passionate comments. Nice quotes on Danah Boyd – she’s so on point (as always). BTW, I wrote this recently (on a similar subject) and thought you might find it interesting:

    http://miteshsolanki.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/bucksforbytes

  83. jules

    Do you think this is the sort of thing you were referring to Mark?

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/196017994/diaspora-the-personally-controlled-do-it-all-distr

    This is the actual starter page if anyone’s interested:

    http://www.joindiaspora.com/

  84. jules

    Do you think this is the sort of thing you were referring to Mark?

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/196017994/diaspora-the-personally-controlled-do-it-all-distr

    This is the actual starter page if anyone’s interested:

    http://www.joindiaspora.com/

  85. Mark

    @41 – yep, jules, I’ve seen Diaspora.

  86. Mark

    @41 – yep, jules, I’ve seen Diaspora.

  87. Mark

    @41 – Thanks, Mithesh, and agree that boyd is compulsory reading!

  88. Mark

    @41 – Thanks, Mithesh, and agree that boyd is compulsory reading!