Replace Facebook Using Open Social Tools

With a little savvy, anyone can create a page that hosts all of the essential stuff one would find on a Facebook profile that can be set up with the same plug-and-play ease. You’ll have to store all of your photos, videos, and contacts elsewhere, but at least you’ll be able to get to your stuff.

Start by setting up a blog. Say what’s on your mind. Unlike your blog on Facebook or MySpace, everyone will be able to read it.

From there, you can pull in your photos from Flickr or Zooomr, show off your impeccible musical tastes hosted at iLike or Last.fm, share your favorite web bookmarks from del.icio.us or Ma.gnolia and put up a list of your most recent reads using Shelfari or LibraryThing.

All of these services have open APIs, making it easy for third-party developers to build widgets for displaying public data stored there. As a result, many such tools exist.

Need to keep up to date with your friend’s activities? Pull in a feed from their blog or from their Twitter page. The Upcoming event notification service has a dead simple code generator that will create a widget listing all of the events you plan to attend, as well as those your friends are interested in. Like to chat? Meebo offers an embeddable widget for AIM chatting, and Jaxtr does the same for SMS. You can even drop in a Skype button that lets your friends call you with one click.

One of Facebook’s unique features is the “everything in one place” feed service (Mini-feeds and News Feeds), but you can build such a thing yourself. Just create an account at one of the many feed re-mixing sites like Yahoo Pipes, FeedShake or FeedBlendr. Plug in all the feeds from the various sources you want to track and paste the resulting URL into a widget on your site. Voila.

The free blogging software from WordPress has all of the functionality to let you embed these widgets and RSS streams. WordPress also has a thriving plug-in ecosystem, so it’s likely a developer somewhere has done much of the dirty work for you. Alternatively, want to create your own Facebook? Elgg is an open source solution that embraces open standards; People Aggregator is a commercial solution, and Ning allows you to host networks on a central server. All have made a public commitment to opening up their data.

An even easier option is to use a sharable and customizable start page from Pageflakes or Protopage. Pageflakes in particular allows you to build a customized chunk of cyberspace that aggregates all of your desired content just like Facebook, which you can then publish publicly (Pageflakes calls this a “Pagecast”). And beyond a simple user registration, Pageflakes doesn’t lock in any of your personal data.

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2 Responses to Replace Facebook Using Open Social Tools

  1. […] quittner wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptWith a little savvy, anyone can create a page that hosts all of the essential stuff one would find on a Facebook profile that can be set up with the same plug-and-play ease. You’ll have to store all of your photos, videos, and contacts … […]

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