At last week's OSCON conference, the big topic on the minds of open sourcers was whether or not an open source social networking offering can break down the walled gardens of popular services such as Facebook, and win. The conversation already prompted our post "Why Does FOSS Development Lag the Innovation Curve?" Despite some fist-pumping at the conference, though, there isn't any clear open source platform that appears to have a chance of toppling the Facebooks and the Twitters of the world at this point. And the problem is people.
People are key to what makes social networks strong, and Facebook is now 500 million people strong--enough users that if it were a country it would be the third largest in the world. When people thought MySpace was cool, it was strong. When they didn't, it became weak.