It's about human co-operation working with machine aggregation tools.
It's a stupidly simple social project using largly existing basic web technologies.
- RSS in and out via tag (with de-duping and field-matching).
This is it for the technical side of the project.
Then there is the social side: open licences, open data, open source, open process.
* open licences generally means creative commons for content and GPL for software.
* open data means that all the core data of the projects can be exported into other node databases. This can be done via the basic RSS in and out or with an export option to a basic XML file.
* open source: that all the core software of the project is free to be edited and be changed.
* open process means that the organising of the network is done in public wikis and using public tools. Activity streams makes projects transparent to user involvement.
The idea of the OMN is to re-build the vitality of the open web. The problem it hopes to overcome is HUGE.
* Applications like Facebook and Twitter have closed off the majority of people's online interactions and privatised/controled them for private gain and social control.
* openweb tools have withered from lack of use and resources.
There is currently little possibilty of an alternative to the polished world of google, facebook, twitter, amazon or e-bay etc. Many people are now talking about these issues, but the solutions they come up with are single sources, not networks. How do we make visible the value of cooperation?
The technical side is relatively easy. It's the social side that is the biggest barrier to revitalising the open web. The problem with all the failed pre-open networks is complexity and their proprietorial nature, This together with a failure of social cohesion (co-operation) has lead to an almost complete meltdown in the radical media space.
Why is the OMN different?
This is in no way a new project. Its innovation is purely in an understanding of the limitations of past projects. Over the last 10 years there have been many projects that have attempted the same thing.
Why will this work now?
It is built with existing standards - nothing is new or untested. It has an understanding of the failure of the social side of such networks. And aims to overcome this:
* the geek problem of "improving" projects and thus running the risk of breaking the simplicity is overcome by insisting that nodes support all of the open RSS standards to be part of the network. Thus if an improvement is useful it will spread and if it is not it will fade without breaking the underlying fallback tecnologies. The idea is that the network will be resistent to the failure of improvements and open to the sucess of innovation - while being robust if this for some reason fails.
* The social problem - the network is built by trust, thus will scale organically with no overarching control or hierarchy to block innovation or accress. There are no hardcoded APIs that limit and shape user involvement and data flow.
* too big and distributed to fail - opendata and node redundancy will help the network to be robust and resistent to the failure of large nodes. Also, the trust nature of the network will keep nodes honest and reliable without a central controlling athority. One part's decline is actually an opportunity for another part's growth.
* the issue of state repression. The network is a part of the open web using only open web standards. This makes it part of a project that is currently too big to fail. As long as the open web is needed by state actors and corporations the technology of the OMN cannot be shut down without shutting down the open web. If one node is shut down its job is simply taken up by another. Data duplication means that little, if anything, is lost.
* Too much concern with security limiting open process is a real danger. The unspoken question is: open process for whom? - currently we use facebook which is open procees for governments and corporations and fundamentally a closed process for the rest of us. Without open process, the trust which the network relies on is very limited. thus the growth of the network will be stunted, and it will likely wither. Open process will not appeal to everybody. But as it is fundamental, people unhappy with it should not get involved.
For the more tech-motivated, here is an old write-tup:
and here http://springofcode.org/organise/-/wiki/Main/Open+Media+Network+proposal