There has been some reflections going on about the use of the so called social web after our BoFs at Akademy this summer. I came across some difficulties during the last days though.

Hasn’t the web been social all the time?

In the early days, when I first came across the concept of the internet, usegroups and mailing-lists were entirely social. With broader acceptance of the internet itself, things changed to a more presenting approach. Content became statically available on websites and there was usually no way to interact with the owner of a site apart from email-forms.

With all the buzz around a web2.0 built on the concepts of community and interaction between the users, things have changed again back to where the web came from for the average user. Web start-ups and companies now take a huge effort in building a community and turning their online services into a vivid place of exchange and interaction.

How does this whole thing affect me? Why is she writing a blog about it that gets on the planet?

The idea I initially had at Akademy was to use the most known web services for KDE as a whole. This doesn’t really work out due to various reasons. At least not yet.

What I think would work instead is the use of the social web for KDE subprojects such as KOffice where I recently came up with this idea.

We’re preparing the new release and I suggested to create some buzz for it using web2.0 services. While discussing this on IRC or private chat, it occured to me that not everyone saw my intention behind it.

The biggest advantage of those services mentioned above is the possibility to share and interact. What makes KDE stand out from the crowd is the strong liaison to its community and by using the social web we open new ways of participation to nearly everybody.

Aha. And what is it we should do now?

I will take KOffice as an example for my ideas.

First, I would register an account on flickr for screenshots, one on blip.tv (as it seems to have some advantages) for screencasts and one on twitter to which I would feed all developers‘ blogs with the help of twitterfeed.

Then I’d create an account on friendfeed and add all of the accounts I set up for KOffice and eventually already existing ones. With the help of this feed service, I’d get all activites on the various services collected in one place and made available via RSS again. The curious now only needs to monitor one single feed to get all the information available on the internet by the KOffice project and its developers.

And why not simply put it on something.kde.org?

Because it’s all about sharing.

By uploading the screenshots to flickr for example we make them available to everybody and allow comments on it, and by posting them to the right group within flickr we get impressive view counts. All services make us address people that might never have heard about KOffice at all (we all know how very often we stumble upon something we were not actually looking for on the net) and let them comment on or share the information.

With friendfeed we take it even further. Everybody with an account there can forward parts of his subscribed feeds to friends or so called rooms and comment. If anybody in your networks is susbcribed to the KOffice feed and commented on a screenshot for example or liked something, you will see that in your feed, (My feed is here, have a look at it if it’s not all clear yet.) With the right use of the technology available we can reach very far.

And: everything collected within theses accounts can easily be embedded into the existing websites.

Where is the but?

Someone will have to take care for the accounts and get material from the developers involved in the project. Only then it will be possible to keep the content fresh and the audience interested. If everybody puts a little effort in this and — for example — makes it a habit to take screenshots of newly implemented features or a polished GUI and then mails it to the account holder, it will keep the workload for everybody on a reasonable level.

And now that you’ve actually made it to the end of this blog: thanks for reading! :)

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this and officially open the discussion here.

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13 Responses to Going Web2.0?

  1. Flavio sagt:

    Marketing Free Software is great, but let’s not forget that we’re talking about closed-source, proprietary services that live on by locking in their users. Watch out!

  2. This comment will be a tad schizophrenic, but that just shows that this topic has its bright as well as its dark sides.

    In short: I feel the semantic desktop + semantic web combination is the way to go, but at some points I have a slight bitter feeling.

    Integration with already existing semantic websites (or web 2.0) has its up and down sides. One one hand it reaches the biggest crowd and there is a relatively high chance that the user already uses it. On the other there’s a few issues that I see:

    Some sites are technologically more open then others? E.g. without Flash — which we all know is a big problem on Linux — sites like SlideShare, DocStoc, Youtube, Vimeo are almost useless (even others like MySpace, Last.FM and Facebook suffer from Flash bloat).

    Another question would be which sites to support? Facebook, LinkedIn, Hi5, Bebo, Orkut, UNYK, WAYN, StudiVZ etc.? Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Plurk, Dodgeball, Friendfind, Koornk etc.? Should the user have a choice? If so, what should be the default? And Why? Should the default app the the most open and free or the most popular?

    Last, but not least, there’s the question of copyright, data retention and license agreements that the user would have to take into consideration when joining such sites …not that anyone really reads that crap, but as a law student I feel obliged to point it out ;)

    Still I would *love* to see Facebook import in Kontact, autotagging from Amarok to Last.FM, sharing recipes over the net with KRecipes and more and more… Sharing is fun! :D

  3. Thomas Zander sagt:

    So if I get this right the main difference to what KOffice has currently are;
    * broader reach because we don’t make people find us, we bring the feeds to the places they already know and visit.
    * existing services are able to let people comment and talk and forward those things very easily reaching an even wider audience.

    Looking at it from that angle shows that its just an add on to what many are already doing. But it has the opportunity to grow a lot faster and wider.

    I like it :)

  4. This is great, but we would need to document it better.
    Something like a page on a wiki (but which one?). Just one blogpost won’t be enough to gather all that is needed to join this koffice community.

  5. marce sagt:

    This is a think all of KDE lacks of, users assuming „poor marketing“ responsabilities, with the agreement of developers and maintainers, of course.

  6. Maki sagt:

    It’s true that computer technology goes 360 degrees , the client/server concept is coming back on a big door, The only problem is the freedom of those services, privacy etc…

  7. Alexandra sagt:

    Thanks for your responses!

    @Flavio: This is true. I know I’m walking a tight line here and try to find something that suits a FOSS project best. Unfortunately, that’s not so easy. There is movement, but we’re not there yet.

    @Matija: Good points. I agree on many of those. I gathered a couple of ideas here to get feedback and suggestions. What has to be decided on is how many downsides we actually are willing to take before we consider the whole thing not worth the struggle. I still think we will come up with a useful solution.

    @Bogdan: I will surely document it as soon as this really happens and point everybody there. And I don’t intend to come up with a final decision on this blog. No need to worry. :)

  8. I second Flavio’s concerns. Personally, I hate being sucked into closed platforms. Like, „all our photo albums are in StudiVZ, won’t you join too so you can look at them?“

    That’s my real concern about web service integration. I don’t care where other people store their data, but drawing their friends (i.e. me) into the same closed services is *not cool* and imho something that KDE should not actively encourage.

    I even wrote a blog entry on that matter recently – http://jakob.petsovits.at/web-is-new-freeware – which was originally intended for a KDE audience, but I didn’t want my first post on Planet KDE to be a negative one so I kept it for myself (and Planet Drupal, which is less sensitive on free software matters of anyways).

    The dependency on proprietary code is fading away quickly. But if we keep going on like this, we’ll be dependent on just as proprietary social web services instead in the future – the only difference being that they don’t just hold the code to their sites but also the user’s data, which is something that traditional proprietary vendors like Microsoft would not dare to do in their desktop software offerings.

  9. Alexandra sagt:

    @Jakob: I am aware of this ‚draw-in‘ phenomenon. It is indeed annoying for various reasons.

    The services I mentioned make content publicly available though. There is no need to register if you don’t want to and you will have access to everything nonetheless.

  10. @Alexandra: Yup, true. Web service integration is indeed awesome when done right, let’s just know when to stop.

  11. Bogdan Bivolaru sagt:

    There isn’t a free software service for photo sharing because providers think there isn’t enough market for it. So every community should make a photo sharing space and therefore build the need for such a service. If there is no need for this specific service, then there is no demand for it and there will be no providers.

    I believe freedom service promoters should not try to bring down proprietary services – they should encourage more freedom supporters join them and, then if the provider refuses to open the service, they should build their own service.

    This way a free software service will start with a ready made user base. So use what works and in the meantime build your own, better freedom service.

  12. Also possible integration with already existing KDE pages could prove interesting. E.g.:

    * KDevelop —> export to kde-apps.org, qt-apps.org
    * DigiKam, Krita, Karbon14, Gwenview … —> export to kde-look.org
    * Kate, KOrganizer, KOffice, … —> export to kde-files.org

    I’m sure many other examples could be made where one could have something in the lines of KGetHotNewStuff (well, actually to complement it), but for uploading newly made content.

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