WebHome.org is a movement

We dream about an open network of “webhomes,” connected to each other in the same way that social network profiles connect us as “Friends.” Twitter, Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook proved that we want to maintain our social connections online and we want to share data with our social graph. The catch is that, in order to facilitate such sharing, we need a very big network – ideally, just one network which includes all of our friends, colleagues, relatives, etc.

On the one hand, millions of people are quite happy with their social network of choice, so it would be nice if we could just connect to their profiles as equal peers of the global network. Some love Facebook, some prefer publishing their own blog and controlling content, some try Tumblr or still hang out at MySpace.

On the other hand, what if the network operator is evil, greedy, uncaring or stupid? It gets worse when friends migrate to Twitter, WP or just quit using social networks altogether because of privacy and content ownership fears. Do we want just one or a few persons or companies to control all of our data and all of our connections? Hell, no!

Global social networking must not be controlled by anyone in any way. Period! So, let’s put a stop to it! We scratched our heads and, after much scratching, decided that we should just nudge the world to start connecting their preferred social profiles. We call those profiles WebHomes.

WebHome is a “movement,” aimed at the creation of a global, decentralized, open social network that is not tied to any specific company, software or website. And it turns out that we already have plenty of network technologies and tools that can help us connect social profiles, wherever they are located. 

What do we call this network?

The Internet.
Yes, we already have it, there’s nothing to build. We just need to connect those parts that work as people’s social profiles. The Internet is now torn apart by corporations trying to accumulate and control as many users as they can. There’s no point in building another “alternative” - we should just connect all people into one web. Initially, the Internet connected websites using links. Now, when we need to make it more social, it will take a little more than mere links...

Who are we?

BoonEx is a small, private, profitable software development company, based in Australia.
The WebHome.org project is started by BoonEx. We have been developing community software for 10 years now and now have over 60,000 customers worldwide. We know the world of social networking very well, and our mission is to Unite People. BoonEx customers build niche networks, but they all face one problem - only large networks work. This is wrong. We feel that companies should not own people and should not brag about their membership as being some kind of asset. We believe that an online community’s success should be measured by the value of the platform features and the information it provides. Therefore, we decided to take the lead and establish (not own) the movement of connecting everyone into an open network.

What have we done?

We’re building the first sample WebHomes, based on Wordpress. They already work as OpenID providers, and share updates between each other. We use OpenID, oAuth, PubSubHubbub and RSS. You may play with first WebHome prototypes here. This is just a beginning. We have huge plans, and we need your input

How does it all work?

First - we need to identify websites that represent people, their “social profiles”. To do that we propose a name for them - WebHome. It’s easy: the Internet is comprised of billions of  websites, which work as a “place”. WebHome, in contrast is a “home”, where somebody (virtually) lives. One website may have no WebHomes, one WebHome or many WebHomes. A simple icon would also help, and for such identification, we used a modified “@” symbol.

Second - every WebHome should work as a personal online ID and personal data repository. We should keep our “webpassports,” “webphotos,” “webnotebooks,” “webcontacts” and  “webphones” in our WebHomes. With the help of OpenID, oAuth, and other technologies along with a WebHome-development tools/platform, we can create WebHomes.

Third, WebHomes must be mobile, like we are, so they must be web-based and accessible on-the-go. We started with WordPress as a first platform for WebHome, and plan to gradually convince every developer and platform provider that their product must be able to work as WebHomes. MT blogs, Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts - all should connect.

Fourth - WebHomes should “talk” to each other, give access to friends, send updates TO them, and display updates FROM them. So, we’re building “add as a friend” and “follow” features.

And finally - there should be a way to find the WebHomes of our friends. For that we have search engines, like Google and Bing, which should upgrade their sites to help find these WebHomes. Meanwhile, we’re building our own search tool at WebHome.org.

What’s next?

There’s a lot of base work to be done to make sure that connections are stable and secure, updates are shared instantly and correctly, and authorization is seamless.

Once we have a working Wordpress plugin, we’ll work on BoonEx Dolphin to accept WebHomes as profiles. Next up - Facebook app (changing webprison into a webdorm). Then iPhone and Android apps to manage WebHomes. We also work on Trident-based software for individual WebHomes. 

We expect independent developers to build cool plugins for WebHomes.

We expect Wordpress, MovableType, and other development teams to add WebHome connectivity to their products.

We expect Facebook, MySpace, Friendster and Twitter to allow their profiles to work as  WebHomes

We expect Google, Apple and Microsoft to build great search tools, sexy desktops and mobile  apps for WebHomes.

We expect all people of the word to reclaim ownership of their identity, data and social graphs.

Do we need help?

You bet! We’re changing the world, so how could it possibly be done without help? If you support the idea, please get involved. We have no intention of managing everything ourselves – on the contrary, we just want to nudge the online world in a different direction and make sure nobody takes control over it again.

So, at this stage we don’t need any money. BoonEx commits to a first stage funding of $200,000 for R&D and marketing. We don’t expect WebHome.org to be profitable, but like “The Declaration of Independence” the idea is worth a lot more than money.

What we really need is participation, involvement and enthusiasm. We need press coverage to build awareness, pundits’ advice and opinions to help make the right choices, support from software developers and platform providers to make available good solutions. We need companies like Google and Microsoft to embrace this concept and cooperate.

BoonEx for the open social web.