Edo the Reliable

Facebook Loses Bid on Skynet

In Social Networks on May 12, 2011 at 7:54 am

The company formerly known as Sky P2P, later renamed Skype,  was just purchased by Microsoft. As a VOiP company, Skype was shunned by Apple, and has great potential in the Microsoft/Nokia context. But Skype is also something else: it’s the world’s largest P2P network (with no legal exposure).

Now, P2P might be a great architecture for social networks. Software development likes form to fit content, and most real-life human activity was always structured in P2P architecture. If a social network is ‘a map of the relationships between individuals,’ a collection of P2P nodes makes sense for Facebook will make its current architecture seem like a huge workaround. Looking forward, P2P architecture could be better equipped to handle the complex issues the future holds for social networks.

P2P is usually touted as for its scalability. Some (see http://www.peerson.net) point to the better handling of privacy issues. However, here I am referring to the way it lends itself to social data architecture. If you see the point in programming Angry Birds in some object-oriented language, then you may see the benefits in designing a social network in P2P. Indeed, this is just an opinion, a futuristic musing more than a professional consensus. Many programmers  don’t value a stylistic flow between goal and representation all that much. But if Facebook were built on a P2P infrastructure –

  • We would have Object-Oriented Social Programming
  • Types of relationships (plug ins) would be developed by third party developers
  • Payments could be done in a completely new model, replacing credit rating with social trust
  • Better integration with alternative currency
  • Friend connections would be much more granular and interesting, and would correspond better to 6 degrees concepts, Dunbar numbers and circles theory
  • User data would not be controlled by a central owner
  • Privacy arrangements could be made to be more transparent to users
  • (Anything to add to this list? email me)

I doubt Microsoft and Skype strategists perceive  the future issues of Facebook; if they did, there were several other, easier things they could do to counter Facebook’s advance. In any case, the larger the acquisition, the less of a rational justification it has anyway.

Too bad; SkyNet could have been a great trade mark for Facebook 2.0.

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