Own Your Own Mothership

2012/02/10 15:38

This is part 3 of a 3 part series on blogging & social networks. Part One: Bridging The Archipelago. Part Two: Postcards From The Islands MotherShip

Companies that have planted their presence too deeply into the soils of Facebook are going to realize they need to control their own destiny, and move their focus and their core presence back into the independent waters of the open Internet.

If you are a brand, publisher, or independent voice, don't put your taproot into the soils of Facebook. Plant it in the independent web.

Now, that doesn't mean "don't use Facebook," not at all. I think Facebook is an extraordinarily important part of the Internet ecosystem, and having a robust presence there is a critical part of any brand (or company's) strategy.

But Facebook is a for profit, advertising and data-driven company. If you seat mission critical portions of your business inside its walls, you are driving value to Facebook - and you are presuming the trade, in terms of traffic and virality, will come out on balance favoring you. I wouldn't count on that.
-- Put Your Taproot Into the Independent Web Sound advice. It got me thinking. The advice is just as applicable to individuals too, but harder to follow because most Facebook and Twitter denizens don't have the resources or know-how available to a company, to establish their own presence outside the walled gardens. For those of us who do have that luxury, we have a duty to make it easier for people to own their own Mothership. To make owning and managing your own content and identity as easy as possible. I'm not going back to the open web. Why? The juice isn't there.
Robert Scoble

The Juice

Why should ordinary Facebook & Twitter denizens care about owning their own content, identity and friends list? Because they are Chattel unwittingly being sold, every day by each other to companies and brands vying for their attention. That slightly icky feeling you get each time a Facebook app or survey/prize-draw asks for your profile (and friends) information just so you can be in with a chance to win something? That's the insidious all-pervading attention-grab. The 'Juice' that Robert Scoble refers to is the fluid communication and interaction he sees on Google+ and Facebook, compared to his blog. The reality is you and your friends are the juice that's powering Facebook/Google+.

Morpheus: What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this.
[holds up a Duracell battery]
Neo: No, I don't believe it. It's not possible.
Morpheus: I didn't say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth.
-- The Matrix OK. That analogy might be a little OTT but you get my meaning :-)
Owning your own mothership means owning your own content, identity and list of friends. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ - These are all 'Motherships' - your online interactions (Status updates, Comments, Likes, Retweets, G+ Shares) are all beamed back to the respective Motherships all the better to advertise to you. In the 2000s, your 'Mothership' was your blog. In the future it will have to be more than that. OpenID (Identity management) is a step in the right direction but it's too bloody difficult even for programmers, never mind regular people. There are a couple of noble-but-nerdy efforts underway but it's going to take time and not everyone wants to be saved.

What can we Noble Nerds do?

Asking your Facebook-bound Aunt to go cold-turkey on Facebook isn't going to work. It takes small steps to ween regular people off of Facebook/G+. Wait, that's not really what I meant either. Like John Batelle, I don't believe in turning your back completely on the big 3 (Facebook/Twitter/G+), but there are better ways to use these services. I think your blog should be your first port of call if you've something to say that takes more than 140 characters. I think you can use Facebook without selling out your friends (Now that would be a good talk - "How to use Facebook without Selling out your Friends"). So here's a short list of things we can do to help our Facebook or G+ bound friends... 1. Help them setup a blog. (Hosted on their own or your server is preferable) 2. Run an OpenID identity server for them on your server.
It's a short list right now because the whole friends-list management thing? - That's difficult to do in a distributed way that makes sense to humans. The other thorny problem is 'Comments'. Right now my comments are managed by the Disqus Mothership and ideally I'd like if this too could be distributed so that everyone owns their own comments. It's another thing we haven't figured out yet. Owning your own content is a start, we need to get to work figuring out what the new citizen-owned Motherships will look like and how they will communicate with the millions of other Motherships.


Take back your life and own your own words | Tuppenceworth.ie blog


Blogging, Facebook, The Matrix