Protecting Your Media
We’ve already discussed the problems inherent with Software as a Service, now let’s look at some of the solutions. The first solution is for those of you who are paranoid and/or completely religious when it comes to free software: delete every account you have on every website you’ve ever used. Take down all of your pictures, videos, chat histories, emails, etc. For those of us who aren’t that fanatical, there is a middle road.
While it’s still unfortunately kind of rare, there are the few, the proud, the applications that allow you to license your public content. They aren’t usually the mainstream choices, but nevertheless, they work and they protect your freedom.
Video Sharing [Replace YouTube]
While possibly not as big as YouTube, Vimeo is a great service. You can license your uploaded videos with different kinds of licenses, everything from Creative Commons licenses to a straight-up All Rights Reserved. You can even allow users to download your videos if you’d like. I don’t think there’s a limit to how long your videos can be, and you can check out some pretty sweet statistics on your uploads, if you’re into that kind of thing. The website is really nice, always a plus. If you care about your videos and their licensing, upload ‘em to Vimeo.
Photo Sharing [Replace Picasa]
Flickr has certainly come a long way. Last year, I was looking to put my entire photo library online, and Flickr was what I ultimately settled on. While it isn’t free to unlock the cool stuff (a Pro account is needed to do anything really cool), it provides some really cool service. You can fully license your images. You can geotag your images. You can browse EXIF data for each of your photos. Oh, all this, and so much more. Flickr is rad. A few warnings though: 1. there isn’t really that great of a client for Linux, 2. you can’t upload RAW images, and 3. there’s a 15MB file size limit, even for paying Pro users. I basically had to wield my own Flickr uploader utility in Python last year to upload my images. I needed complete fault protection over a long period of time while uploading: basically I needed the images to go up no matter what. So, I wrote a Python script that did just that, it uploaded a list of pictures to Flickr no matter what; it would keep retrying until the end of time or until all of the images were online, whatever came first
Microblogging [Replace Twitter]
Identi.ca is one of those great open source success stories. While they aren’t Twitter, they do what Twitter does, if that’s what you’re after. Plus, you own your content. Win. I haven’t used them too much in the past, but they’re there if you incessantly crave microblogging.
Social Networking [Replace Facebook]
Diaspora, as far as I know, is the first distributed social network ever. Anyone can run their own Diaspora server and host their social network locally, while still being able to connect back into all of the other Diaspora servers out there. It also has a host of privacy controls that are notoriously absent from Facebook. Ever post something you wish you could limit access to? Diaspora handles this well with groups; you can make certain posts, photos, videos, and links only visible to certain people or groups. Diaspora, while still in alpha, is looking very promising as the social network of the future, while maintaining your privacy and ownership of your own content.
These are only a few of the possible choices out there of many. While the best thing to do is always to host it yourself (like WordPress for example), these are definitely great SaaS implementations which don’t compromise you too much.