The Problem with New Open Source Social Media Platforms

The problem with the new, open source, social media platforms?

They (typically) don’t run on basic php/mysql web servers. Plain and simple.

I’ve written lots on open source before (see here), so needless to say I see a lot of value in open source software.

These new, open source, social media platforms I’m talking about include diaspora* (explanation here), MediaGoblin (explanation here), and (explanation here). Each of these require server resources above the standard shared server. Thus, the cost is to high for your average user. Typical shared hosting costs anywhere from $5 to $10 per month. Typical virtual private hosting (the next step up and able to run these platforms) costs anywhere from $15 to $25 per month. That’s a big difference for your average hobbyist. Like myself.

Sure, you can find pods or installs of this software to use. But part of the need for these platforms is that you can host and own your content. And there’s no guarantee of ownership when you’re using someone else’s install and someone else’s server. If I wanted someone else to host and manage my content, I’d upload my pictures to flickr or Google+.

I’ll compare to the WordPress content management system (on which this site is built).

WordPress has a huge user base. WordPress powers 23% of the web. Nearly a quarter of all websites run on the open source WordPress software. It’s not all self-hosted, like this site. Much of it is run on, an install of the WordPress software maintained by Automattic. But for most everyone else, it is self-hosted and runs on cheap, shared hosting.

And this is why I think WordPress is so popular. Cheap, shared hosting.

Cheap, shared hosting that any hobbyist can afford. That any business can afford. That any non-profit can afford. That any government can afford.

So here’s a shoutout to everyone working on the likes of diaspora* and MediaGoblin (and many others, and all the future open source platforms). Design it to work on cheap, shared hosting and on php/mysql. This combination powers most of the web. And it allows us hobbyists to run your software. I really want to use it and tinker with it and contribute to the code and contribute back to the communities around them.

But I can’t on my shared hosting plan.

Ben Kallos Interview

Agile Government Leadership has a great interview with Ben Kallos, New York City Council Member.  He’s got quite an interest in technology and process reform, and it shows:

Most people think of government as slow and bureaucratic, but that isn’t a required feature. In fact, it is a bug, mostly tied to old models that were successful in the industrial era. The predominant governing model was the “waterfall method,” an approach that allows for ample input at the beginning of a project, but little—if any—during implementation or once the project is complete. Government must adapt from this industrial model to what it more closely resembles: an information and services based model that allows for continuous feedback along the way.

Rocking Chair with Grant

I’m reminded of a passage from one of my favorite books, Fire Season by Philip Connors:

Time spent being a [wildfire] lookout isn’t spent at all. Every day in a lookout is a day not subtracted from the sum of one’s life.

The same definitely applies to time spent with a sleeping (or should be sleeping) child. These fleeting moments are some of the best moments of my life.
We celebrated Grant’s first birthday today, although it lost a little bit of the gusto when we found out yesterday morning he was sick. With little rest, the party went on, and Grant had a ton of fun. Pictures of him covered in green icing will follow, sometime, after we all catch up on a little sleep.

I’m a big fan of the U.S. Digital Service

Introducing the U.S. Digital Service:

Interacting with the government shouldn’t be a thing that you automatically dread.

-Mikey Dickerson

Every one of us in government, this should be our goal, every day.

While I love what the USDS is doing, I find it a little sad that half the discussion centers around what Mikey wears to work. Who cares? We should be talking about his results and his goals, not dress code.