Frequently Asked Questions

Who are your competitors?

As our competitors, we mainly identified established networks like Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter.

There are many bigger and smaller Networks, but we rather view them as potential cooperation partners.

Other decentralization efforts like e.g. Activity Pub or SoLiD are also projects, that we aim to reach compatibility with.

Although the social networking market is already flooded with a variety of different applications or efforts to unify them, we couldn't find one that was trying to do things the same way we were. If there was another company/group trying to implement the same system with a similar vision, then we could collaborate and share our efforts with them.

We could identify projects, that did single parts of our vision, so you actually could describe our system as a mix between RSS-Feed, E-Mail, Open-ID, Mozilla Persona.

How will you attract your first users?

We believe that our system has some characteristics that will help to spread it:

The advantages of iconet and the applications operating within it will attract the interest of users. Trust in the established social networks is declining and some people are actively looking for alternatives. iconet will be able to offer these for each user individually while maintaining the option to stay in contact with everyone.

We aim to reach those people through different technical information channels and newsletters.

Different actors in the social media world will profit from our system. This includes content creators like journalists, news outlets, influencers, YouTubers, and so on. If they see the benefits of our network and get on board, they will fill the networks with content and thus make it interesting and attractive for users. Since most of the influencers already have a large user base, they will likely bring along some of their followers, if they switch to iconet. They function as a multiplier and are therefore a relevant force to make iconet more known and popular to users.

To help to achieve this effect we actively want to reach out to certain content creators and influencers and present them to our project. In the beginning, we specifically contact those channels that deal with the relevant topics on data protection and technological innovations.

Crucial for the distribution of iconet is the opportunities that emerge concerning potential new, innovative applications. Many applications fail due to the phenomenon of the so-called herd dynamics: The process of downloading and registering on a new application are perceived as major barriers by many users. As a result, new application ideas rarely catch on. With iconet this problem could be solved because many different applications can be developed at the same time and convince users in the long run. This opens up the room for creativity and innovation.

Besides our sparkly visions for social networking we hope and aim to attract great networks, and then again this will help us expand on the users.

Another factor in user growth will be modularity. iconet will consist of many interesting and independent sub-applications. This way, they will be able to operate reasonably even if a critical mass has not yet been reached. In this way, many small, innovative networks can be created that can grow gradually and then merge to form a large network of networks. They thus influence each other's growth.

Last but not least we benefit from the connections we made over the last months and continue to make during conferences like the 36c3 where we not only gave a talk but also got in touch with experts from the fediverse, wikimedia, and others. This network of contacts will help us to get the word about iconet out there.

Those components are our entry points to reach users. We plan to use those, coupled with our crowdfunding campaign, encouraging users to share this vision with other people who are currently unhappy with the social media situation.

Which programming language do you use?

We have so far mostly been engaged with the PHP-framework Laravel. But we are planning to look into already existing open source solutions in social networking, which ensures we also get in touch with plenty of other technologies.

Who are potential users?

Interconnected networks (iconet) will benefit everyone who takes part in the social networking world.

It gives the users the opportunity to manage multiple networks at one unified location and allows them to choose their networks freely and independently.

The following user groups will especially profit from our system:

Frustrated Users: Those who are overwhelmed with the management of multiple accounts and multiple locations for receiving notifications will profit from our system because those things will be made easier and enable them to use these technologies more freely.

Power Users: Those people who engage in many networks, or, as the case may be, in a few networks extensively, often have pretty specific ideas on how they want to present themselves and their content online. With iconet they can personalize their online presence, starting with different templates, colors, and apps that best represent the personalities and interests.

Content Creators / Journalists: People whose professional life happens online benefit as well. With iconet they can freely choose where and in which way they want to publish their content, independently from any network guidelines, restrictions, or given formats.

Users with specific needs: With iconet everybody can adjust their client to whatever specific needs one has. For example, people who want to change their media consumption habits might want to be less exposed to most of the social media aspects, but still want to be included in meaningful conversations with their contacts.

Or for example, parents want their children below fourteen to be able to interact on social networks with their friends and family, but in a more safer and child-friendly environment.

Decentralization enthusiasts:

Though sadly the concerns for data and network security are not mainstream yet, there are plenty of people who are interested in decentralization being spread around the globe.

How does iconet make the internet more awesome?

The goal of our project is to make it possible for users of different social networks to interact with each other and making it easier to join and test out new ones.

If our system will be applied broadly we expect several awesome changes for the internet:

Empowerment of users: iconet makes it possible for every user to chose their networks and applications freely and according to their needs, requirements, and beliefs.

This gives every user the power to live their online presence in agreement with their own ideas and without limitations.

That’s especially useful for user groups with niche needs or interests who can then be in their favored network or use an adapted client and still stay in contact with everyone else.

Fairness in competition: At the same time, the competition for the networks is becoming more free and fair. Because users are able to choose their networks free and independent of each other, the currently existing monopoly of a few networks most likely would not persist.

Also, the possibility of another monopoly emerging in the future would be lower. Independent social media:

Social media provided in open source will not profit from people running the software, but only from their desire to support the vision.

This allows creating a much more sustainable and valuable software because it serves the interests of the users and no other agenda.

Innovation: One of the biggest advantages of our system is that we remove two big limiting factors for innovation in social media.

We make it easier to join new networks, and we make it possible to interact with your friends from within this network, even if they have not joined it yet.

So not only is the user experience higher for networks that haven’t reached a critical mass yet, but they also actually spread easier.

And having a new wave of innovative digital communication technologies being connected with their users gets as close to the full promise of the web as it gets.

There can be greater variance in communication methods again. Many current problems with digital interactions could get solved.

For instance, the trouble with hate speech and having meaningful discussions online. It’s not an easy problem, but it will only be found if people are able to experiment freely with different formats and in different situations.

What are you building?

We are building a new social media experience where contacts can share, interact, and communicate across different networks and applications.

You can access any network that is connected with iconet through any iconet-Client of your choice. It presents you with your notifications and content, independent of the networks they originated from.

This way you can create your personal social media environment. When you want to test a new application, your friends will already be within reach from inside it. When you want to use various formats for different aspects of your social life, your iconet-Client will help you manage them easily.

Interconnecting networks will be the next big technological step of the internet. We are doing it - transparently and open source.

Why do you want to bring micropayments to social media?

For us, the possibility of micropayments is an indispensable part of independent social media.

Micropayments will make it possible for users to support anyone they would like to, with minimal effort.

By supporting artists, journalists, and networks they trust and enjoy with a few cents, they allow them to keep on doing what they are best at.

The user is directly in control of what, when, and whom they want to support. Micropayments can bring the required flexibility in payments that matches the flexibility of modern media consumption.

We consider the Web Monetization technology an important innovation.

We can imagine many good applications with it and we aim to provide a unified interface for the user, which they can use to access multiple applications.

What are the goals of iconet?

The goal of iconet is to make it possible for users of different social networks to interact with each other and make it easier to join new networks and try new functionalities. This way everyone can choose their networks and applications freely and according to their requirements and beliefs.

Users will have the power to live their online presence in agreement with their own ideas and without limitations.

Concurrently, the competition for the networks is becoming more free and fair.

Because users can choose their networks freely and independently, the currently existing monopoly of a few networks most likely would not persist.

Social media provided in open source will not profit from people running the software, but only from their desire to support the vision.

This allows to create a much more sustainable and valuable software, because it serves the interests of the users and no other agenda.

Being able to join new networks and interact with your contacts more easily not only enhances the user experience for networks that haven’t reached a critical mass yet, it also makes it easier for new networks to spread.

Innovation can flourish, which opens the path for a greater variance in communication methods.

What does success look like?

In our case, success will look different depending on the stage of the project.

At the end of the prototyping phase, we want to own a working prototype with all the different aspects required as well as detailed documentation to make it possible for anyone to develop or host new networks and to add and customize new features to the clients.

After the development phase, we want to have quite a colorful and powerful collection of different networks gathered. We will have acquired collaboration partners for both network and user-inbox hosting with scalability in mind.

For the distant future, we envision the iconet protocol to become an internet standard just like e-mail. When two persons meet and want to stay in touch, they will exchange their iconet-addresses. They can stay connected regardless of the networks and applications they are using.

What are the key deliverables of the prototyping phase?

Our system consists of three components, for each of which we want to provide a prototype as well as detailed documentation so that other developers can also create components:

iconet-Client: The entry point to all the networks in our cluster of networks. The client is used to navigate through the networks, display their data and allow users to manage their identities and contacts. For our prototype, we will develop a rudimentary web-based version.

User-Host: The user-host provides the users with data storage, an inbox, and a iconet-address.

For our prototype, we want to have a working test server environment so when we contact server hosters to cooperate with us, we can submit our requirements.

Networks & Network server: The networks operate independently from each other. They need to provide interfaces viewable by the clients, distribute notifications to the inboxes and handle interactions.

For our prototype, we are going to adjust social network applications that are already available in open source to make them compatible with our system, as well as developing some own networks for showcasing.

Who will do the work?

Right now our team consists of two key members who work for iconet full-time. With funding available, we would like to extend our team to five people to move to the prototyping stage.

What needs to be done now?

The work that needs to be done can be put into three categories:

Development: We aim to develop the prototype mostly within our team. Some tasks may be given to the community, for example when it comes to the development of multiple different interfaces. We can explain how we did our version and ask them to give an own version a try, while still using our same interfaces.

Coordination & Collaboration: We will provide our own network functionalities, but mostly we plan to make it easy for external development teams and already existing networks, to connect their functionalities to our network. We are planning a good part of our work for coordinating these tasks.

Public relations: We want to be able to profit from good work done with our public relations. Gathering many supporters for our vision will help our crowdfunding, our community development as well as our credibility when engaging with potential funding and collaboration partners.

How are you licensing any software or documentation you produce?

We want to make all our software openly available, with other people being able to build upon it. While hoping that most people who extend our software will also make everything available openly, we do not want to force them to.

We have not decided on a license yet, we will have to check on which existing open source technologies we rely on our development phase and check what implications this will have for our own licensing.

How do you communicate publicly about your work?

We provide various information material to explain our vision. We will create different videos, that introduce iconet and its functions to the various target groups. We will explain, how crucial it is to the realization of our vision, to be spread and shared.

We directly contact Journalists and Content Creators since they are user groups that benefit from our system. They will be multiplicators of our vision.

We are active on Mastodon and Twitter and we invite everyone who wants to join our community to our Slack.

On our homepage, where you can find all the information needed, we will have space where people can register as a supporter of our vision. When registering, they add the username of the person from whom they have heard about iconet. Our webpage then will provide information on the personal impact the support has had on the project. E.g. if you have shown iconet to three friends of yours, one of them being an influencer who also spreads our vision, your personal support impact is high. This information may be interesting and motivating to some people.

What do you hope to learn during the project?

We already have learned a lot during this project and we expect to learn a lot more. Taking full responsibility for our project leads us to make decisions in multiple different fields. It is a very exciting task and we are thrilled about what is to come.

Explicitly we hope to learn about project management, software collaboration management, public relations, many different software technologies, and already existing open source solutions and other fields, we do not even know yet that we will need to get involved with. Also, we are looking forward to all the like-minded people we will get to know on our journey.

What happens to iconet if it does not get funded?

We are certain there are many people who have an interest in supporting our vision. The earlier we find them, the sooner we can focus on developing the prototype and building collaborations, rather than the marketing and public relations aspects of our project.

We do not believe raising funds is an easy task. But we are constantly improving our materials. With each iteration, our venture will become more credible and professional. We believe we are building something valuable and real. We all are and will stay committed to the vision we want to achieve.