This is a huge subject that covers many aspects. We have Facebook pushing Facebook Connect, we have Open Authentication, a small group looking at delivering a distributed ID system, and browsers taking a crack at possible ways to deliver our online identities. There are opinions all over the map from guys like Jason Calacanis, Leo Laporte, and Steve Gibson.
Facebook has now reached 500 Million daily users and is showing very little slowdown. Twitter is great for short messages and sharing right now news. Google is now working on a not so secret project titled ‘Google Me‘ a potential competitor to Facebook. Then we have Open Authentication or Open ID which is designed to deliver single sign on across the web; something that Microsoft tried to deliver years ago with Passport. There is such confusion over what the best solution will be.
Diaspora seems to bring the best ideas together by allowing the users to own the server, software, and information. It provides a single sign on that is controlled by the user.
What should the solution be?
That is a really good question. One, I have been considering for weeks, which is obvious since I am just getting this article finished & posted. I think that the best solution will allow for cross platform compatibility and easy user deployment. Software that can be installed similar to WordPress or Joomla. Plug-ins to enable additional features and content or games and video. It should be easy to update and take care of so that the average web user can manage their account and software. I imagine that several hosting companies, like DreamHost and SquareSpace, will provide managed installs. I hope that it will interface with Facebook and Twitter and several other services. It would make sense to me, that is always the hitch, that in order to compete and over take the competition; it will have to be very open and powerful. It would also need to provide Open Authentication [Open ID] like access to websites and deliver single sign-on services to a multitude of sites and services.
When it happens … the next social network evolution will change the way we communicate and interact. It will also change who owns the data and where that data resides. My personal hope is that projects like Diaspora will finally overcome the larger social juggernauts.