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The Swocial manifesto

There is a growing trend of walled gardens on the Internet. At the same time there's an increased exposure of information about its inhabitants. The driving forces behind these trends does not seem to be about protecting the users and creating a better experience for them, but rather about increasing value for stockholders and exposure for advertisers.

Walled gardens have their uses, but they need to serve the needs of the private citizens, and not the needs of advertisers, corporations and governments and others that may have interests misaligned with those of the users. In other words, walled gardens are good if we are the gardeners.

The book

The Swocial project seeks to empower users with tools that enable them to handle their data, administrate them across service providers, and to let their data be utilized in new and innovative ways. There are many facets of this, consisting of many, intertwined challenges, which is why I've decided to lay them out in this manifesto.

It is a book that's in the making, but if you want to start reading what's available, it's available here. If you're wondering about the status of chapters (i.e. "How finished are they?"), please read the wiki.

The book will be structured into two parts; the first part will explain some fundamental concepts necessary to understand to follow the ensuing discussion. The second part will dwell on the different aspects of a distributed social network that needs to be secure, ensure a user's privacy, be easy to use and provide a good user experience, and offer a flexible range of means to distribute and consume data. It will also take into account that such an environment needs to offer incentives to service providers, i.e. allow them to make profit, as all systems are somehow bound to economics (financial surplus being one for service providers).

The Internet is a wonder of technological and cultural achievement. It is also - albeit a fact disliked by many computer scientists - very human. One aspect of this is the social networks, where a ever-growing number of people decides to partake and share their lives.

I hope that this book can be part of a movement that envisions a world where the power of the share lies with users that do it - not the corporations and governments that aggregate it for their own profits.

How to generate the book

To generate the book in all available formats, simple run grunt. In addition there are scripts for each format:

grunt github
grunt epub
grunt mobi
grunt pdf

In addition to generating the different formats, some commands also generates the style files necessary. These are generated using Sass, a CSS pre-processor.

For convenience there's also grunt watch that triggers the default grunt-task (i.e. publication) each time a chapter, template or SCSS-file is saved.

Ways to contribute

There are several ways to contribute to the project:

Do note that the book holds no license (or rather, this repository hasn't listed any), and is free to use as you wish. As ideas should be.


The Swocial manifesto






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