Mugshot? Mugshot you said?

The always classy Havoc Pennington of Red Hat today announced a new project, named “Mugshot“. And I ask you: what is Mugshot? From the front-page of the project you get absolutely no information of what it does. Reading its “About” page we get a bit more information, but we still can’t quite pinpoint what it is exactly: “Mugshot is an open project to create a live social experience around entertainment.” We had to read the… Terms and Conditions page just to get a better idea: “Mugshot is an online service that enables Users to share information and communicate with others.

In other words, this Mugshot thing, is nothing but yet another Orkut/Friendster/MySpace-kind of social networking site and client, but with a twist towards entertainment and media sharing. What a useless project. Is this Pennington’s super secret project that he has been working on for the past year? Is this what he spent Red Hat’s money on? On yet-another social networking site? Instead of using his team, money and energy making Linux and Gnome better (e.g. adding a full Bluetooth front-end, fix the damned phone/pda sync app that’s been in alpha for 4 years now, or add video chat on Gaim, or make Nautilus ask for the root password when you try to copy/delete files outside of your ~ folder), he spends it on this thing that only interests teenagers — and only for a fortnight until they move on to something else? I am in complete shock.

Update: Here’s the slashdot discussion btw. To make something clear: while everyone is free to work on whatever they want, Red Hat is not. They have an obligation to their customers and shareholders to keep improving their core products and sell more. And removing key engineers from their core products’ teams in order to create… Mugshot, is inexcusable. Except of course, if the company changed its focus away from servers and OSes and got into social networking. If that’s the case, then the SEC should investigate them for not doing a proper press release about it. If not, then as I said, there is no excuse of pulling someone like Owen Taylor away from GTK+ developement in order to write a vague meta-service for teenagers.

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Thom Holwerda wrote on May 31st, 2006 at 11:55 AM PST:

I agree about the pointless-ness, but damn, why do you care so much? If Havoc wants to waste his and RedHat’s time and money on YASNWS (Yet Another Social-Networking Web Site), let him. It’s not your money or time he’s spending, now is it?

bob anon wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 1:05 AM PST:

As a shareholder you have given your monetary investment to a company, you have no say in how it is run or what it does, and in exchange you are not legally obligated for the corporation’s fuck-ups. That’s how corporations work, if you didn’t know that, I have no idea why you invested in the stock market. If you don’t like it, quit your bitching and pull your money out.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 1:06 AM PST:

That’s total bullshit – the premise of capitalism is that shareholders decide what happens with their money. It’s indirect – shareholders elect the board, which gives orders to the CEO, who runs the company, but ultimately the decision goes to the shareholders. That’s why it’s extremely hard for public companies to change focus – because shareholders need to approve. That’s why companies have to issue all those reports every quarter, they need to show how they manage shareholders’ money.

>pull your money out

Maybe that’s what I will have to do, now don’t I?

Snark wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 1:22 AM PST:

You know, in gnome there is already ekiga, which does both audio and video, and since long!

bob anon wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 1:49 AM PST:

Capitalism has nothing to do with corporations, you poor mixed up child. Capitalism is an economic system.

As for deciding what happens to your money, yeah, you bought stock, that was your decision. You’re also free to sell it, that’s also your decision.

And yes you’re right. It’s totally indirect, you do vote for a board (Why did you let your vote default to the previous board’s recommendations then?… or did you?). But that’s your only voice, they operate the company, you do not.

And while you’re right that they need to show how they manage shareholders’ money, once again you’re a bit mixed up. That is so that shareholders know that their money is simply not being pocketed or otherwise misused. If the corporation wants to use your money to buy the CEO a hot dog, there is nothing you can do about it, but it’s sure to be listed as an operating expendature in your shiny report ;)

PS: It is incredibly bad form to edit your comments without mentioning it. Don’t do it again.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 2:21 AM PST:

Some said that Mugshot will be used on OLPC. Well, I guess that ’s where its userbase lies at. It will totally introduce poor kids in the useless wonders of the western civilization like myspace and chatting while at class. :P

KCorax wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 3:16 AM PST:

On Gnome:
Ekiga doesn’t take any advantage of the IM networks at place and doesn’t perform very well when playing with windows/mac SIP clients.
It really makes sense to warn users or prevent them when they try to change the state of the system aka write outside their home folder. It really makes sense on computers that are used by many people – like families.
Syncing with my windows phone had me recompiling the kernel. That’s well beyond lame…

On mugshot:
Given the fact that we know pretty much nothing about the true intent and final form of Mughsot, can’t we just treat is as more RH astroturfing ?
RH absolutely has the right to engage in fruitless activities that endanger the enterprise future of FOSS altogether. It’s simply that people expected more responsibility from them…

Tom Dison wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 3:18 AM PST:

I think this idea is a total disaster for other reasons. Kids will start sharing things they shouldn’t (pictures and files), and now the Feds are coming after RedHat. I don’t think this is a good market for RedHat to enter right now. It will divert too much talent and resources on something that is DONE TO DEATH elsewhere.

I never thought about the Nautilus thing before (dragging files out of you home dir), but that sounds like a great idea. Usually, I have to drop down to a command prompt to do that, if would be nice to not have to leave the shell.

And for the last time (it won’t be), it is totally inappropriate every time a woman says something edgy or caustic to mention the “Flow” thing. That is an infantile comment.

KCorax wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 3:52 AM PST:

> …something that is DONE TO DEATH elsewhere…

Novell you mean ? They do mono to death not gnome. But even if that was the case, pulling developers from key projects would mean that RH would go back to the business of packaging other people’s work. That’s not a really radical change for them.

> …to mention the “Flow” thing…

I suspect that if someone told Eugenia that she is trolling again we would have a nuclear explosion somewhere (Eugenia’s head or this guy’s house) . Be gratefull he chose to express himself in this way.

wazoo wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 4:21 AM PST:

jeez, someone’s aunt flow must have just come in

ajww wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 6:24 AM PST:

k, wth.

Your pretty much right about everything, except;

“make Nautilus ask for the root password when you try to copy/delete files out of your ~ folder”

what’re you smoking??

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 6:40 AM PST:

Learn to read more carefully. It says to copy/delete OUT of your home folder. On folders that are not owned by the said user.

ajww wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 7:50 AM PST:

“Learn to read more carefully. It says to copy/delete OUT of your home folder. On folders that are not owned by the said user.”

Perhaps you should learn to write more clearly. English is not your first language so I forgive you.

That could be interpreted both ways.

srini kumar wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 8:46 AM PST:

eugenia – i work at red hat & i have to say i love your energy and keep it up. if red hat is really as open source as we claim to be, we will incorporate your energy and comments into projects that boost our share price into the stratosphere. remember: we are RED HAT. we refuse to be “yet another” ANYTHING, or even just an “open source” version of ANYTHING. at the risk of tipping our hand, you’ve got to see that as successful as myspace et al have been, they leave a LOT of lunch on the table, and this is ONE HUNGRY COMPANY. peace.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 9:03 AM PST:

Good for you. My problem is though, that Gnome needs a lot of small and big fixes before it is on par with the experience OSX and Windows offer. You want to play with new projects? Go ahead. But make sure you fix your existing ones first.

Henry Gomersall wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 11:34 AM PST:

The real interesting point about this that differentiates it from the others, MySpace, Facebook type sites is that it will, surely by design, have an open API. The potential of this takes it hugely beyond `yet another Orkut/Friendster/MySpace-kind of social networking site’. Imagine all your addressbooks that have transparently updating entries for all your friends. Your desktop photo album shows your friends and publishes (transparently) your photos to all your friends. This is just touching on what a wider level socially networked desktop could provide. This is the future of desktop, and it exactly what Havoc should be working on.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 12:00 PM PST:

>It’s not your money or time he’s spending, now is it?

And how do you know that I am not a Red Hat shareholder?

robzon wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 12:34 PM PST:

Man, you really need to get some non-tech point of view some time.
Maybe there is a point? Maybe if teenagers get a nice social networking site that promotes opensource they will actually get interested in it?
Maybe Linux has to get a bigger share among typical non-tech users, and for them there’s pretty much nothing Linux and opensource can offer?
We don’t need to convince tech users, cause they pretty much already ARE convinced. Linux needs to get to the masses, to people who don’t want to hear about new features in kernel, they just want to USE the computer. Why would a taxi driver give a fuck how beautiful kernel source is, when desktop Linux is still something not many people even know it exists?
I think that this project might give opensource some more attention from casual people. And we need that. Really.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 1st, 2006 at 12:52 PM PST:

Most “casual” people don’t care if something is open source or not. They just care if it works easily or not or if it has a value for them. If that project comes from RH and it’s open, or it comes from MS and it’s closed, it’s the same for them as long as it does what they expect it to do. Open source won’t gain anything important from it. And my fear is, I don’t think that Red Hat or Gnome will either.

Mugshot is a meta-web service that has a social side and a media twist. To me, as a computer user, this is completely useless. As it is for most of the population if I to judge from my discussions with others and my experience with other computer users. Some teenagers will get excited initially, and just like Orkut, it will become a thing of the past before you even say “gagh” in Klingonese. I just don’t think that it will succeed. It seems too much of a drag. Too involved. Why leave a message for each news item in the Mugshot group and not leave it in the article itself? Why publish my iTunes playlist online? Who the fuck cares what music or videos I play when I am bored? If I want to comment on a new good movie or on a TV show, I just blog about it. My friends will see it. Why have Mugshot on my back to add layers to my online experience? As I said, except the initial teenager enthusiasm, normal users won’t give a flying monkey about it. That’s why I deemed it useless.

To me, Mugshot is nothing but a Cheapshot (they should change its name to this) in having some of MySpace’s glory. And you know, I don’t hold MySpace in high esteem either.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 2nd, 2006 at 7:01 AM PST:

>I suspect that if someone told Eugenia that she is trolling again

If you call a major dissapointment “trolling”, then trolling it is.

KCorax wrote on June 3rd, 2006 at 12:34 PM PST:

What I mean’t is that you get a lot of ‘Eugenia is trolling again’ references, even though many times you don’t deserve this.

For the record you do troll a lot. Especially back at slashdot.

Emmanuel wrote on June 4th, 2006 at 12:23 PM PST:

I don’t think people are seeing the bigger picture here. Mugshot is attempt to take open-source principles to the Friendster/MySpace/etc. market. This is attempt at freedom for a large group of users that may never use the unix desktop as we know it.

There are 25 million people (give or take) that are using this technology. May of them young and non-technical. For many people is the whole reason to get a computer and get on the internet. These people may never use the Redhat opperating system, may not even know what an opperating system is.

These people are under the control and influence of large media like News Corp and others that control these things. They can’t add any new fuctionality without breaking the system and doing it against the rules. News Corp bought Myspace $500mil and they are looking for ways to force more advertizing down the gullet of consumers.

Mugshot is freedom in an increasingly ads oriented space. No one should own my communication with my friends. No one owns your email and yet most people don’t know but, MySpace, AIM and others essentially have full rights to your communications though their systems.

Mugshot can not only be an alternative that would force the issue of freedom, the market is new enough that they could still own a large piece of it and make a good profit from it.

And as far as the GNOME Desktop is concerned, there are relatively few people who are on the fence saying, “If only Evolution had better IMAP, I would switch with all my friends” or “The lack of Bluetooth frontend is killing my switching”.

Having people’s communication channels open and free and extendable would do more to help people to switching platforms than would a year of team of desktop developers working on bug fixes and performance issues.

And it’s an area that Open Source isn’t. There are plenty of great IMAP email clients for the GNOME Desktop, Thunderbird for one but, many other choices, none for social software. Nothing that can bridge many platforms and is open. Personally, I think they should just buy Imeem but, that price is probably too high.

I applaud Redhat for showing the courage to innovate and think beyond the desktop.

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