Our story begins almost two decades ago, at the cusp of the new millennium, in a sequestered small community. Before Shoshana Zuboff even penned the term surveillance-capitalism in 2014, a young man in 2001 was adamant about warning others that “free” online services like Google weren’t free. He foresaw dangerous implications to come from being the product. If people thought nothing of auctioning off their data and privacy, what entities would profit the most? And what social forces could they then engineer, or inadvertently give birth?
Things became progressively worse with the advent of social media. In the end, the ghastly reality of this situation, the deceptive costs of these services, renders itself daily in 2020. One can judge the whole mess corrupt and throw it out, but where would we draw the line? Social media, search engines, websites, messengers, forums, smartphones… the whole internet?
Throwing out the baby with the bathwater is no more a solution than just shrugging our shoulders in bewilderment. Moreover, online communities can serve great functions when used judiciously. If only there were a way to have these larger-than-life “free” services have a greater interest in helping their users and creating an enriching community than serving ads, harvesting and selling your data, and silencing/covering up abuse.
What I’ve Done About It
I was that young male Cassandra, and I have pondered over these conundrums for many years, trying to determine if I could find anything satisfactory. This year (2020), I broke off from the major social media networks (though my accounts still exist.) I had become fed up with the spread of misinformation, the online bullying/abuse (it doesn’t stop counting as bullying just because you’re an adult), and the depraved and delusional echo chambers.
Yet, at the same time, I missed the more reasonable and nuanced online spaces that existed to some extent in an earlier time. I previously concluded that I had no need for online communities in my departure, but was that entirely accurate? I found myself still yearning for some form of online space that could offer more than hack partisanship, inane bromides, knee-jerk ad-hominem, false showmanship, racism, hate, and negativity. Is this too much to ask these days?
I come from people who, when other resources fail them, make their own tools. In response to all of this, I created the first version of a social network for those who are seeking the same thing. I’m offering it for free at the minimum of functionality. I intend to finance this network through crowdfunding (currently through Ko-Fi and Patreon) for those interested in supporting the effort or who want more features/perks. There is no paid advertising and no data harvesting for that purpose. Not now, and not in the future. You are not the product; you are the customer.
Introducing Incarnate Me
Incarnate (.) Me is a social network with a retro bent. It currently serves both as a social network and as a federated identity server. All this means Is that your Incarnate Me account is enabled with OAuth 2.0, much like other major social networks, allowing you to have a single sign-on experience with multiple compatible sites (see below).
Incarnate Me offers personal profiles, timelines, messaging, a news feed, social groups, and forums (tied to groups). More features will be added as the site grows with the roadmap, including live chat, more privacy options, and more. I’ve pared down the services purposefully to offer the basics so that users can focus more on their interactions than on the medium.
Who’s This For
As mentioned above, I mean Incarnate Me to be for those who are dissatisfied with current social media offerings because of toxic companies and deplorable communities. If you’re here because of another site such as How To Program Anything or Cybercadia, welcome aboard!
If you are coming here to get away from hack partisanship, inane bromides, knee-jerk ad-hominem, false showmanship, racism, hate, and negativity, then you’re in the right place. If you’re coming here because the tech-giants are “censoring” you, or wish to express malicious intent freely, then you’re definitely in the wrong place. Community moderation will reflect these standards at the maintainer’s (Novelty Factor LLC) discretion.
As Lead Developer, I have always been fascinated with the idea of digital expression, or even just digital mechanisms, as being a sort of “place” or having some kind of “location.” This place, or setting, exists solely in our minds and is implemented by interacting with the digital machines and their rules to shape an abstract space. I have future projects in the works that will hopefully allow me to explore this concept further, and with those projects in mind, I created this social network and identity server.
I call it Incarnate Me because when you are “in” a digital space, you are usually represented in some way by an avatar: a digital representation of your usually ideal self. That avatar doesn’t have to be “you,” but can be anything: a dog, an alien, a cardboard box, a person, etc. In this way, you become “incarnate” in the abstract space. Hopefully, people will use this server to “incarnate” users into their digital areas.
What’s An Identity Server And Who Can Use It?
An identity server is a (web)site that keeps track of user accounts and their associated personal information. Many sites behind the scenes have an identity server (account management) either as a separate entity or built-in to the particular software they are using. The difference between these account management tools and a federated identity server is that one builds a federated identity server for the sole purpose of allowing other decentralized servers to use its account management services as an authentication method.
The idea of single-sign-on (SSO) is to have one singular account associated with an identity that allows you to authenticate or login to multiple sites/locations. So you are using a single account with a single username and a single password to log in to several different places. This functionality is known as single-sign-on (SSO).
For right now, I have restricted access to SSO licenses and the API. The site administrators must set up each license for each site manually before a site can use the SSO API. With future success, we’ll be opening up the API to public clients.
What Sites Currently Use Incarnate Me?
Sites that currently use the Incarnate Me system include:
- [How To Program Anything]
- [The Official Chraki Language]
The Future Of Social Networks
There has been a lot of work in the area of federated social networks and other such platforms. We’re hoping that with a modicum of success with this site, we can focus on creating the next generation of social networking software. This software will bank on personal freedom, decentralization, and ease-of-use.
Who Built This And Maintains It?
This site was developed by [Asher Wolfstein]. This server is maintained and run by Novelty Factor LLC ([https://noveltyfactor.com/]). I built it using secure and reviewed open-source components that are always kept up to date to ensure the latest security patches. The technologies for SSO that are currently employed are OAuth 2.0, an industry-standard federated login system.