I came across the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for Openbook. They call themselves “The honest, open-source & awesome social network”, and their plan is to build a “Facebook competitor” that is open sourced, free of advertisements, and wants to donate a portion of their revenue to charity - but apparently is not decentralized or federated.
I’m not sure what to think about it. On the one hand, I believe we need more alternatives to Facebook, except then I remember that the problem is not that other options don’t exist, but that network effects work against them. It’s already difficult for social media to grow through some hype, venture capital, and unique features. Being “Facebook, but open” is a tough value proposition to sell. I still wish them luck. Their design mocks look fine, and the team also seems solid; they have a founder of PGP on board as well as some non-technical people that could help make Openbook something that doesn’t just cater to computer geeks.