Looking back in retrospect in a few months – maybe a few years – time Facebook might turn out to be the best thing which ever happened to the web. Not because Facebook is great (which in a way it is), but because it made one thing clear: Facebook is the anti-web and the web at large needs to come up with something better than a monadic entity in possession of the most valuable social graph around.

Ever since Facebook released its Facebook platform and started to suck in data and attention streams from other services as well, people from various backgrounds have been sticking their heads (or rubbing their noses) together to think about alternatives. The mantra of open always has been around, of course, (open standards, open identities, open networks, open etc.) but Facebook’s black holed efficiency was necessary to trigger this collective shock which soon created an unifying momentum to develop alternate solutions – think about the ‘Bill of Rights’ or the rise of the notion of ‘portable social networks’ or the demand that the social graph just should be there for all to utilize.

Dirk Olbertz’ NoseRub is one of the first services to emerge in this post-Facebook environment. It is a protocol and open sourced reference implementation of a decentralised social network.

NoseRub tackles two common problems: it is a full time job to keep track of our friends activities at all those sites (we have to sign up to each site ourselves even if we just want to stay in the loop with what they are doing; we have to invest significant amounts of time to rebuild our network at each site again and again) and we are not in control / don’t own / usually can’t even export this network of friends we have been building.

NoseRub only defines the social network and some basic content types like media, links, micropublishing and text. You can now add all your contacts to a NoseRub network and aggregate several social networks into just one.

And you always have full control of your data, as you can install NoseRub on your own server and have it connect to other servers out there.

screenshot noserub

In other words you can create a NoseRub identity and claim all services you are using. Any RSS feed can be used as source and a growing list of sites (e.g. flickr, del.icio.us, Twitter, Pownce, last.fm) is supported as well. People can add you as a contact and will automagically receive updates on anything you do. You can add the public NoseRub identities of your friends too, but you also can aggregate private streams of them if they haven’t created a NoseRub identity yet or if they prefer to not make everything they do publicly available. Public streams are visible to everyone, private streams exist in their own namespace and are only visible to you.

With Identoo Dirk also launched the first official NoseRub service yesterday so you don’t need to host your NoseRub network yourself if you don’t want to.

screenshot noserub
screenshot noserub

Example: when you add your Twitter account the list of your existing contacts at Twitter is parsed and displayed; you can choose to ignore any contact, add it as a private contact or assign it to a corresponding public NoseRub identity.

There is a lot more to NoseRub, so check it out. Like openID it might not be ready for prime time yet, but it may lay the groundworks for things to come.

Last but not least congrats to their blognation compatible design ;-).

Company Blog: Blog

This article originally was written for blognation Germany. Since blognation is gone I have reposted it here.