[foaf-dev] Yet another idea on a free social network

Max petersonmaxx at googlemail.com
Thu Apr 22 21:18:38 CEST 2010

alreay given: http://retroshare.sf.net  web of trust messenger
serverless network

On Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 3:43 PM, Lucas Stadler <mi.au at papill0n.org> wrote:
> Firstly, I would like to say hello to all the nice people here
> as I did not write anything up until now.
> In consequence I am not sure if a similar or even identical
> idea has been on the list previously and if there was a
> discussion about it. If so, please point me somewhere to
> read it.
> I only have _some_ experience with programming and software
> design in particular. But nonetheless, I am quite interested
> in both of it and additionally, free social networks are something
> I have been thinking about a lot.
> My idea is a decentralized, distributed *and* free social network.
> There are no servers, no central 'places' and nothing that can be
> controlled by people having nothing to do with it.
> Basically it is just a collection of XML documents, which are sent
> around between users. The good thing about it is, that RDF is used
> to provide metadata about all exchanged data, in particular
> foaf for identification of users. Another special thing about this
> is, that one provided public key is used for both user identification
> and data encryption, but later more on this.
> As different types of information have several things in common
> there must be a XML container element to hold both the RDF metadata
> and (after it) the actual piece of information. I will call this
> thing - I do not know why - a 'piece'. Any exchanged information
> except requests encapsulated in those pieces.
> The second basic 'type' is something like a request. It maintains
> everything concerned with communication between clients such as
> connection establishing, pieces exchange and request for
> particular pieces. Again, this request is simply a XML element
> containing metadata about the 'subject'. The two obviously required
> things are the user id (i.e. the public key or the finger print)
> and the type of request.
> The last basic data type is also the most important. It contains
> the definition of the information about a particular persons. I
> call this an 'identity'. The minimal information that is required
> to be part of the idea, is a foaf:Person definition with a public
> key defined in it (WOT - Web of Trust). As I thought that a user
> should only make availlable what he/she wants, one can also decide
> to encrypt part of the identity and therefor restrict access to
> a group. (Again, more on this (the groups) later.)
> I will sum up what we have onto this point. We have inter-client
> data exchange, and a type for the actual data. If requested by
> the user some of the data can be encrypted for a particular person
> or perhaps even a group of persons. The data can be of any type,
> including XML based languages such as HTML. However, I recommend
> to include type of request that explicitely requests the pure text
> form of the data. Finally we have a user which is identified by
> just a public key and what he/she wants to publish.
> The next part is the connection and data storage part. I am not quite
> sure how to think about this, but I think a lot is to be learned
> from the p2p projects (BitTorrent, Freenet, ...). I want to mention
> EOF[1], which is a 'secure, peer-to-peer (p2), decentralised
> anonymous chat network'. It is rather low-level, but I think that it
> could serve as one of the protocols that have to be supported by a
> client. I forgot to mention DHTs (Distributed Hash Tables) in the
> first place. As far as I know, they could be used to discover other
> nodes that are online or availlable aswell.
> The next is the storage of 'common' information. One might also call
> them 'shared', as they are not owned by a particulary person, but a
> group of persons. This also some rather complex topic I do not know
> much about. But I think that there are smart people out there, that
> could help with that. (The current pre-draft state idea is expected
> to evolve anyway.)
> Another thing, is the mirroring of information. I think that it is
> a good thing to save all the retrieved information locally. This way,
> information would never get lost if it is interesting to others.
> Another possibility is to store information (always encrypted) somewhere
> else e.g. on a trusted persons computer. This provides additional
> security by not giving sensitive data to unknown parties.
> I think that data stored on a clients computer can be stored in any
> way. It just has to be exchanged in a standard (XML and RDF) way.
> Another recommondation is to encrypt data even on the machine one is
> working on (with oneselfs public key).
> As this idea shares several concepts and ideas with other projects,
> there are similar but somehow insufficient projects:
>  - any proprietary social network (shoudl be obvious)
>  - XMPP (central servers, need to be registered on one)
>  - ...
> These projects are also a source of inspiration.
> I have to emphasize that this is more a collection of existing ideas
> and technologies into one new project rather than a revolutionary
> new bunch of protocols and languages.
> Finally just one last list of 'features' and requirements:
>  - distribution
>  - multiple clients
>  - ONE exchange format
>  - handwritable (as RDF can be expressed with n3)
>  - any information (XML, others through something like XMPPs Jingle?)
>  - security (public key encryption (+ connection encryption?))
>  - privacy (public keys, publish what you want)
>  - ...
> After having a short view on the ideas page of daisychain/GnuSocial it
> seems to me that this idea and your wishes have quite a lot of parts in
> common.
> I think thats basically all of it. I posted it as it is an important
> thing to do things in a group and to get feedback and so on. This is
> also my excuse for bad style, unclear or not too precise statements.
> If there are any questions, feedback, suggestions and interest in
> general, please simple answer to this thread.
> (Again I want to say that this a prior-to-be-readable conclusion of my
>  ideas. I post it as I am eager to get some feedback and of course to
>  soon have a p2p and fun free social network running somewhere out
>  there :)
> Thank you for reading (if you got through it...).
> [1] http://www.nico.schottelius.org/software/ceofhack
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