Federation...not Segregation

These words may seem like big words to some people. Hey, to me they are even large ones. So, I’ll very quickly explain both of them.

There are many definitions of this. The best one, IMHO, comes from dictionary.com – “a federated body formed by a number of nations, states, societies, unions, etc., each retaining control of its own internal affairs.” So, in terms of software (which is what i’m going to talk about today) means a bunch of programs (desktop or web etc) that all work together but can still be different internally.

This one is more obvious. “The policy or practice of separating people of different races, classes, or ethnic groups, as in schools, housing, and public or commercial facilities, especially as a form of discrimination”. So, again in terms of software, this is when different programs that are similar are split up and don’t work together, and sometimes don’t even know that the others exist.

Well, why am I talking about these? Well, I’m thinking about things in terms of social networking services just now. Facebook is huge. Noone knows exactly, but its probably between 350 and 500 million people. Lets be honest, the biggest social network in the history of the internet. However, they are having a huge backlash just now on their privacy settings, and a number of people are leaving it. Now, obviously a few people leaving it won’t change it much, but what happens when those people leave facebook? What do they do? Where do they go?

This is the horrible situation we have just now. Web apps are mostly segregated. They don’t work together, infact sometimes they work AGAINST each other, actively seperating themselves. Facebook is facebook, twitter is twitter, etc etc.

Well, this is where federation comes in. Let us take status.net into consideration. You can have any status.net instance (identica, or your own instance) and follow anyone on any other Ostatus federated web service. So, say twitter because Ostatus federated. this would mean that I could have 1 identi.ca account and follow anyone on identi.ca, twitter, twitarmy or any other status.net instance. And then, say facebook used Ostatus on their news feed? That would mean that I could have an identi.ca account (or twitter, facebook, or status.net account) and follow anyone on identica, twitter, facebook, or any other status.net instance. That is practically everyone on the internet, isn’t it.

So, the point of what I’m saying is that you could federate any part of a social network. This would mean that a new service (like diaspre) or an old service (like facebook or twitter) could implement these features as well, and then anyone could have 1 account on any of these services, and follow/be friends with anyone on any of these services. No more having 3/4 accounts on different services. Makes everything so much simpler and more open, and stops 1 service having a huge monopoly like facebook does just now.

So, yeah, federation, not segregation…