Today I discovered that Red Hat Linux has created a new social networking site call Mugshot. This site is promoted as an "open source" site. I checked the site FAQ to find out that all the software powering Mugshot is, in fact, open source. And indeed it is. The developer site for Mug Shot is right here. I have to say that I was hoping that the very idea of an open source social site would reach beyond the software being open source. I was thinking that maybe the development of the features and interface might also go, somehow, the way of open source.
BUT - I am very pleased with what I have seen. This site, in my opinion, goes well beyond that of Myspace and Facebook. No it doesn't have a ton of added applications like Facebook, nor does it have the gazillions of users that MySpace has. But this site is a fledgling offering. Give it time and it will get there. Why? For a couple of reasons:
- The open source nature of the project will push the site software beyond that which serves up MySpace and Facebook. To me this is a no-brainer. With the entire open source community able to crack open the code and see what makes it tick, Mugshot should be quickly getting tons of bug fixes, features, etc. from said community.
- Mugshot already has a nifty little desktop tool (called Mugshot) that I really like. It can sit in your GNOME panel (or you can open it up as a small widget in your Deskop Environment (or Window Manager) of choice. It allows you to add to your Mugshot space without opening up a browser. Very nice touch.
I realize that social networking sites are pretty much a dime a dozen and each of them has their attractions. Will Mugshot only attract Geeks? I don't think so. I think there are so many people out there waiting for the next big social interaction that they will jump on board anything that comes along. But I think Mugshot will attract them simply because it's a bit more unique than the others. AND I think, due to its open source nature, it will flourish without all of the spamming, bug, and hassles the others sites are prone to.
But what this really says to me, above the whole "social networking issue" is that Red Hat might be "getting it" again. I remember back when I was first covering Linux for Techrepublic and attending the little Linux conventions at the Research Triangle - it was about community. It was about bringing life to something new and exciting. But somewhere along the way Red Hat became almost the enemy - they became too corporate.
Mugshot might herald a new beginning for Red Hat Linux. I hope so. I would love to start seeing that nifty red, black, and white logo appearing here and there (instead of that Lame "f" for Fedora.)
I'll be working some Mugshot mojo in the near future - hoping that the site will take off and flourish. Good work Red Hat! Now, just keep the "community" building.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.