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Will an open-source alternative to Facebook actually work?

Just like e-mail has been decentralized over the past 20 years, so some think the same thing will happen with social networking.

The anti-Facebook movement has created a level of interest in open-source solutions to the privacy issue where virtually none has existed before.

After I wrote about the Diaspora project a few weeks ago, I was contacted by Michael Chisari of the Appleseed Project, which is basically the same thing and predates Diaspora by several years. Reason virtually no one had heard of it was because Chisari had spent months developing the entire project himself and had to put it on hold because he, well, reached the point where he couldn't finish it alone with no one really interested in it.

But with the renewed interest in privacy and Facebook's lack of interest in it, suddenly everyone's interested in the open source solution.

On his video explaining the project, Chisari makes the analogy of the old days of e-mail: walled gardens, where unless the people you wanted to contact also had Prodigy or AOL, you couldn't send them an e-mail. Everything was in a "walled garden." Eventually, free e-mail services cropped up and e-mailing became decentralized.

We all know what happened with that - now no one charges for e-mail and anyone can e-mail anyone. It's totally decentralized.

That's what Chisari and Diaspora envision. And Chisari doesn't care if a particular person uses Appleseed or another open-source "anti-Facebook." He's contacted Diaspora, OneSocialWeb and others to see if they can develop a basic common protocol that will enable the nodes on each of their projects to communicate with nodes on the others.

That would be equivalent to being able to visit your favorite band's MySpace page from your Facebook account. And you wouldn't have to re-create your account every time the next best thing came about, either - moving from Friendster to MySpace to Facebook to whatever comes next?

Appleseed profile from the beta invite Chisari sent me so I could get a feel for it, though I haven't downloaded the software yet to set up my own Appleseed. If you've ever set up a profile on any other networking site, from LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook, it's extremely easy.

I've already set up a basic

One writer on Download Squad proposed a doomsday scenario in which the Diaspora gang will be taking the money they raised on Kickstarter and drinking appletinis all summer long, because - gasp! - most people don't understand they're going to have to host their own nodes/seeds/whatever you want to call them on a server themselves. opposing view on Download Squad even had the suggestion that friends might host their friends' seeds - people would be more trusting of a close friend than a faceless corporation to be a repository for their personal data (though I don't know that I necessarily agree that they should).Indie-GoGo aiming for $10K - hey, maybe the Diaspora group could shoot a little cash over to Appleseed in the spirit of open source cooperation and all. They certainly have raised far more than they'd aimed to. Mark Zuckerberg donated to them.

But everyone with a website either has their own server or access to server space. And the

Meanwhile, the Diaspora kids have raised nearly $200K (after shooting for $10K) and Appleseed is on

Maybe they could just share whatever

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