Adria tweeted “Google+, Twitter, Facebook are like ice cream. Everyone has a story about why their favorite flavor makes them smile.” at 4:14 PM eastern time. That got me thinking. I like Twitter and one of my Cousins likes Facebook. She won’t use Twitter but i share more on Twitter. Same thing with Google+, I like it more than Facebook and I’m using it now also. I think this is a problem.

I think we need an open social networking protocol, but i doubt this will happen anytime soon. When eating ice cream, me and Adria could be sitting next to each other. The flavor she or I picked doesn’t matter we can still sit and chat while we eat. Same with email. I like Gmail. Someone else might love Yahoo or even their free email from Road Runner. Email is an open protocol.

The public switched telephone network and snail mail are also protocols. I can still send you email, no mater where live. I might live in San Francisco (I don’t but i want to!) and you might live in Georgia. I can send you mail, your address finds your house or business, the numbers on roads and street names that tell you the location to send the mail. That is somewhat like a protocol. The public phone network is another protocol. You know my phone number. You use AT&T and I have a Digital Phone service with Time Warner Cable. You can call me no matter what network your on.

Lots of things online aren’t compatible with each other. Skype can’t call Windows Live users. Facebook can’t post to Google+. This is where we run into problems. We don’t all use Windows Live Messenger, I like Skype. Someone with FaceTime can’t video chat with Skype using FaceTime. People have tried to solve this problem. You have protocols like Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) for voice over internet protocol and Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) for instant messages. SIP is kind of like email, myname@domain to call from other sip providers to me. But I don’t think SIP or XMPP is something the end user knows about, and I’m not sure how popular it is.

Then we have Facebook, Twitter and Google+ which aren’t really compatible with each other. That’s another problem which I don’t think will be solved any time soon, and if it is, i’m not sure how it will affect the average user.

I like the circles concept, Wave like real time messages, voice calls and instant messages. Wave is another protocol. I think maybe a group of geeks, or maybe this could be a project Google could sponsor an open social networking protocol. OpenSocial is an open source social app protocol, another Google project.

My idea of an open social protocol would be based on:

  • Email for messages.
  • Wave for status updates.
  • SIP and XMPP for voice and IM.
  • OpenSocial for apps.
So parts are already existing. Then we would have to build a contact system. VCard based maybe? OpenID and OAuth might also fit into this platform. There are ways you can sign emails, so people will know if someone spoofed the messages. So I think an Open social networking protocol would be really cool if it can be built securely and open so anyone can build a client for it. It would let you search for people across all social networks and add them. I could post a message on Twitter, people on Facebook would see the same message, Someone on Facebook might comment on it. Someone sees the post on Google+ and they see the same comments and likes from Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
Then you might think this would hurt Facebook financially, because now I could buy a $20 VPS and install my own “Facebook”, and offer it with out ads! Well I’m not sure if it would be an issue as a cheap VPS might not scale as well. But Facebook could run ads and make money still. Maybe someone else could set up a social network without ads but a small membership fee. I login to Google+ for example, and it has everything people on Facebook are sharing. For example Facebook could be my “home” social network, but if I got upset, I could migrate to Google+ with one click or host my own social network! Or say I move to Google Plus, but my Facebook page is still active and would point to my Google+ now. Like with OpenID I need a provider which keeps my information and verify’s me.
What do you think? Do you think we could ever have a truly open social network?