Problem description circa 2016:

  • There exists multiple large social network: facebook (with the focus being on "who you know"), G+ ("topics you're interested in"), tumblr ("anything goes"), twitter (microblogging), etc

  • On each of these social network, one might have multiple accounts, organized around eg geographical areas, or mutually exclusive topical constrains (eg LGBT issues can never leak to FB work profile, etc)

  • Facebook, tumblr, and twitter all considers it A-OKAY to shape the stream, and thereby my perception, specifically:

    • Facebook selectively hides stories based on black-box algorithm
    • tumblr is even worse, by injecting both ads, and "posts you might be interested in"
  • Specific problem#1: the incentive structure of these media companies does not align well with my information consumption. Specifically, these corps are incentivized to represent the interest of their respective revenue streams, and maximize time-on-platform; while my interest lies strictly with having a highly open worldview, and information density.

  • Specifically (1/A), on a long-term basis, sooner or later all streams trend towards injecting things that one is not interested in, into their streams. Specifically, see eg Baidu, where companies can bid on search engine ranking directly.
  • And specifically (1/B), there exists currently no accountability for the shaping / filtering performed on one's stream. You have to actually manually open up eg. all your friend's profile page to see what was omitted from your main FB stream

  • Specific problem#2: There exists currently no aggregation across the entire stream. We used to have this thing called RSS, and it was awesome. No functionally equalent protocol, or instrument exists for social networks; nor are these closed gardens incentivised to ever provide one.

Despite all of the problems described above, having streams of "useful stuff you might want to know about", is useful, and has a redeemable value. Furthermore, people are voting for these platforms with their feet, and it is increasingly difficult to keep on top of things without accessing these platforms.

Things that we have tried:

  • From a social perspective, diaspora, GNU social, or any of the OSS self-hosted platforms are structurally inhibited from ever going mainstream, due to not have marketing (or value-extraction) mechanisms. These self-hosted platforms might be useful for starting points, though; leaving bridging / pulling info in as the problem

  • FB's Graph API has been turned off, making it currently impossible to query your friends' posts via APIs; and more pointedly, making it impossible to create any third-party archive of any size (other than one's own published articles).

  • Tangential whack-a-mole: I'm not, actually, interested in how "they supposed to make money". That is their challenge to tackle. For relevant IP/TOS discussion, see this question on meta. This question is purely focused on representing user's best interest, given the environmental, and accountability constrains described above.

I am looking for a solution, or parts towards a solution, which can:

  • Take my acc details, and pull in all the selected (and only the selected) information from all social networks across all my friends / topics / people I've subscribed to (and only these); in a way which would require manual whack-a-mole from these networks to counter.

  • Push this through a filter, which has demonstratable value-alignment with my information consumption habits; that is, ability to both shape my filter; and accountability on shaping performed.

  • Present the resulting, user-aligned, single stream (or categorized substreams) in a single view, where I can see all platform's current happenings without having to navigate to all the platform sites.

  • Preferably in a self-hostable way, but willing to pay for it, if the value-alignment between user's interest, and their filtering is strong enough.

An integrated solution, which does all 4 of the above, gets all my internet points. Partial answers are specifically rewarded for FB & G+ stream pulling into any of the open-source self-hosted social networks; OR accountability analysis performed on FB streams (that is, being able to see what was omitted),

Many thanks for your answers in advance!


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