Tent – distributed social networking

Via a post by John Gruber, Tent:

Tent is a protocol for open, decentralized social networking. Tent users share content with apps and each other. Anyone can run a Tent server, or write an app or alternative server implementation that uses the Tent protocol. Users can take their content and relationships with them when they change or move servers. Tent supports extensible data types so developers can create new kinds of interaction.

Oh, hell yes. Sign me up. I’ll be installing the reference implementation ASAP. This distributed approach makes much more sense than the app.net model of replacing one central silo with a shiny new one…

Update: Timmmmmmmyboy reminded me about Diaspora, and asked how is Tent different? I don’t know if it is (or will be) different. It comes down to a few things:

  1. how easy it is for people to install. if it’s hard1, it will die on the vine, like diaspora did (or is doing. or whatever).
  2. how well self-hosted and service-hosted instances interoperate. if they don’t interoperate, it won’t have enough activity to make it worth using. death spiral ensues.
  3. and how well it plays with other platforms. can it post to twitter? facebook? vice versa? pinning our hopes on the chance that everyone on the planet just moves to the new platform is just not reasonable or desirable. heterogeneity. competition. etc… platforms need to play well with each other.
  4. apps that can talk to it. twitter took off because there were apps for every device that made it easy to do stuff with it2. will there be an iPhone/Android/Win8 app for this? A desktop app for win/mac? a decent web interface? etc…
  1. whereby hard is defined as “non-trivial” rather than “requires a PhD”. if an application is harder to install than, say, WordPress, it just won’t get installed and maintained by even geeky humans… []
  2. and then TwitterCo™ decided to start killing third party apps… interesting… []