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Today Google announced the new social stategy and services named Google+. Here is a very cool summary of the videos and the teamwork of the components.

Status quo

I personally do not like Facebook at all: neither the implementation of the thing they called «social network» nor their monetizing of sensitive user data nor their arrogant behavior toward its primary clients, the users.

From the beginning I did not agree that their solution is able to «map» my social network structure adequate. And each time I read about something they did to expose user data to paying companies or other users (without the knowledge or approval of the users of course) my feelings got stronger that people are changing to something else if there is something else providing at least the same level of features as Facebook does.

Hope

Being very impressed by a speech of Professor Moglen and a cool presentation from Paul Adams I hoped for an Open Source project that provides us a similar (or better) featureset in a distributed environment with open protocols where each participant keeps his or her data and the log files. Only such kind of structure is able to provide a real social network for the future that respects the importance of our information. http://karl-voit.at/temp/suderei/2011-06-28_FreedomBox_logo.png

So far so good, I already blogged about this some time ago. And with diaspora and FreedomBox I got more exited. I even donated some money for the FreedomBox Foundation. You can still support them here.

Google+

I like the features which are presented in the videos. I really do.

Unfortunately.

Google got it right. Or at least they got it much much better than Facebook did and does.

But why am I not happy and embrace this new way of social web? Well, it's the logging information and the open standards I miss. http://karl-voit.at/temp/suderei/2011-06-28_Google_plus_logo.png

On the one hand, Google is very open compared to their competitors. And they are not famous for selling your private data to other companies (as Facebook does all the time). People do really think that their slogan is «Do no evil» which has actually never been said by Google.

But on the other hand, it is the network itself that is the most valuable thing to have. It's the connections between you and your friends, family, co-workers, and even strangers (Facebook calls all of them «friends»).

And, Google owns the logs. The information of who did what with whom how many times at what time. Google, and not you.

The downside

When you think of it, Google donates the tools and you donate the data. Google might never sell your photographs, your email contents, or your address book. But they sell valuable data which is derived from your data.

If you happen to join a presentation of scientists like Peter Gloor you get a small impression how data is being used to derive things you are not aware of. So your data is already interpreted. Without you. And then this derived data is the basis of derived assumptions and actions. Personalized advertisment is not the thing you should be scared of.

This last paragraph is worth being discussed in several books if you think of it and if you get a bit into the topic. If you do not want to get into this topic so far please be assured: it's pretty scary and you definitely do not want to get this out of control.

I still do think that there must be an Open Source, open protocol, distributed solution for social networks. Only with those constraints I am happy to enter my private network and sensible data for my contacts.

Until then, I will keep my current position and use only the minimum needed. So Sorry, no Google+ for me for now.

Well, so what?

As I mentioned above, Google+ seems to have cool features - unfortunately. Unfortunately? Well, there is a certain amount of discomfort even among those who already put their data into Facebook and so forth.

This situation is furtunate for any other solution. I was hoping for a usable free solution from FreedomBox and/or diaspora before any competitor (like Google) could profit from the dissatisfaction of Facebook users. I do think that the first versions of a really free alternative is kind of rough to use and lacks certain quality of implementation. So there has to be some kind of early adopters phase and a certain pressure to change.

But when Google arrives, develops a «cool version of Facebook», those people willing to change will change to Google+. If this is the case, they are hard to convince to change again, this time to any free alternative with its starting quirks. As long as Google does not act that stupid as Facebook does so far.

This is the reason why I do not like Google+.

But there is still hope.

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