by  Commander Zot

I've been working on Red for three months (off and on, there are lots of demands on my time). Here is an update.

Most of us think of "online networking" and think only in terms of "social networking" because of all the influence that Facebook has had in that realm. It has become apparent that the abuse of privacy has only one solution - take the private information out of the hands of outsiders and keep it under the control of those who are communicating. This means that a future which involves "privacy" belongs to decentralised communications, not to centralised data silos. We knew that already and was the basis for Friendica.

But also we've come to accept that the "social" part of networking is the only thing that matters. That everything on the modern web is all about friends.

It's not.

Red is an attempt to look at all of this from a higher level and see where we've been and where we're going. The whole "social" bit came about because email couldn't protect us from spam. So we started only accepting messages from "friends". And so now we have these huge corporations which are geared around the concept of communicating with friends.

Facebook is merely a communications system with web accessible resources, all focused on the concept of "friends". There is also inherent censorship and blockage of people with non-mainstream beliefs.  Filtering is performed which uses Facebook algorithms to decide which content by which friends you can see at any one time. What you see in your stream isn't under your control.

Now let's look at Red. Red is simply a network. It has attached web resources. It is decentralised. It isn't concerned with the "social" bit, because "social" just means a granting of permissions to do stuff. Red has a permissions system which can emulate "social networking", and much more.

But Red isn't about people. It's about thought streams.  We call them "channels". You can create any number of channels, and some of these can represent people - like you for instance. And they can interact just like in a social network. But channels can represent any thought stream, hobby, interest, person,  discussion topic, anything. They can be about your music. They can be scientific discussions on a particular topic or range of topics. They can be a personal blog or a marketing site for a new product. You can attach web resources to channels such as  photo albums and event listings and static web pages. And you can create rules on how other channels or collections of channels can interact with each of them - or not. 

So each channel is essentially a content management system attached to a communications system and a set of rules about what interactions are allowed - and what content is visible to any or all other channels. And since it is decentralised, private information is only shared with the hubs of other channels that are involved.

Important: There isn't any central repository anywhere which has access to *all* private information.

You also have an analogue dial representing the "affinity" between this channel and any other specific channel. If you're "channel surfing" you can look at specific other channels, or mixtures of other channels, or those with a specific range of affinity. And if those channels permit you to do so, you can interact with them. You can also interact with specific subsets of channels. In a social network context you might call this a "private group".

And you can change channels. They are all separate entities, so things can't leak between your channels. So not only does each channel have privacy controls for the other channels it interacts with, different channels can interact with completely different sets of permissions.

In Friendica for instance you can create private profiles and photos that can only be seen by co-workers, and another which can only be seen by potential girlfriends. In Red, you can do exactly the same. But you can also interact with co-workers on a completely different channel and share work related stuff without having to worry about what permissions you might need to set on each thing you post or share. One is a different thought stream entirely from the other.   

The other big thing we're doing in Red is taking the internet domain name system out of the equation. You need this to visit web resources, but you don't need it for basic communications. You can move around and interact from other places. So if your channel doesn't require web resources, you can communicate from anywhere. We hope to build desktop and mobile communication clients which can operate independently of the content management web servers, and allow you to stay in communication even if those go down - (which happens). 

So in summary, Red isn't a social network in any classical sense, though it contains all the same components as a classical social network and has better privacy controls. So one could use it in that manner.

Red is a matrix of interacting thought streams.

Want to connect to the grid? We're still several months away from a solid prototype. This is a lot more complicated than a decentralised social network and it's taking some time to develop because nobody has ever done anything quite like this before.

Stay tuned.