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Five Things That Could Topple Facebook’s Empire

• Ryan Singel via WIRED
Facebook is primed to announce this week that it’s amassed a half billion active friends, a milestone reinforcing its status as the king of social networks – a company to be regarded with the seriousness and power (if not revenue) of Google, Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft.

Five hundred million and rising also makes it clear to anyone not paying attention that Facebook is no fad, that it is a cultural force shaping our collective culture. Even if you have no desire to ever set up a profile, you can’t ignore it and you are now oddly defined in the negative and left out of the zeitgeist.

A service of that size won’t disappear anytime soon, even if Facebook has hit its plateau in the U.S. But net users are fickle and the web’s short history includes dozens of sites that were once high-flying that have either since died (Geocities), lost their luster (Yahoo) or faded into irrelevance (Friendster).

So how could Facebook lose its place at the center of the web?

1. Open, Distributed Alternatives

A pack of college kids drunk on Free Software launched an open-source, federated alternative to Facebook called Diaspora. After collecting an astonishing $120K in donations, the group is knocking out code. Meanwhile, there’s other cool stuff going on, including OneSocialWeb, the Appleseed Project and WebFinger. Get enough of these open protcols into decent shape and someone is likely to build them into an improbably powerful stack. Research the LAMP stack, if you don’t get my drift.

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Nick Barnett
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Diaspora FTW!


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