Attempts to create open source alternatives to Facebook failed. the reasons are similar to why Linux never really made it as a mainstream desktop OS: user interface, ease of use, lack of applications geared towards end users. Open source cannot compete will the technology giants, who can pour millions into developing partnerships and building their walled garden ecosystems.
But Linux is far from a failure. It is THE standard for server-side uses. Lesson here is one I repeat endlessly to clients. There’s no such thing as the ultimate product that can fulfill all possible use cases. Let Apple and Microsoft have their desktop OSes, let Google and Apple dominate the mobile space, let Facebook and Twitter dominate social networks. Social networks are great for banter, bragging, arguing, meeting new people & sharing otter videos. But we need to take back control of how we gather news and information. Yes, by resurrecting RSS and Atom possibly, by creating a Goodreads for news and blog aggregators.
It would be great to work on a social news and blog aggregator, integrated with facebook, so one can create lists and share them with FB friends, and have a twitter-like real-time feed of articles friends have read/shared/liked, or lists of interesting sources friends have created. I’ve found none so far that are free that do just that, but many tools and libraries exist, it’s just a case of patching them together.