Mugshot, Part III

And so I was given a Mugshot account and tried it out all this week. The Windows client is very rudimentary atm and it has numerous bugs: it only loads IE (even if Firefox is your default browser), you can’t quit it without killing it, and each time you type a character on the chat window a huge memory leak takes place (from 15 MBs to 65 MBs of memory consumption, and counting).

But these are easy-to-fix issues. They are not the crux of the problem. The real problem is that Mugshot is not a useful application. It does not solve an existing user problem. It creates yet another virtual world where users can be part of Groups and have Friends. It is a lot like Orkut, but without many of Orkut’s features. Instead, Mugshot uses existing desktop applications and adds extra value to them. For example, if you are running the Mugshot applet and you happen to listen to music from one of the 2-3 supported music apps, then the title/artist will show up on your Mugshot page. Or, if you share with the World or your Group a web link, then this opens in a web browser.

Basically, think of Mugshot as an *engine* that has a social network background but uses third party desktop apps to extend its functionality. In the future, “plugins” that hook on existing desktop apps will extend its functionality further.

The idea of Mugshot being an engine is not a bad one (from an engineering point of view). The implementation is what bothers me though, and I talked to Havoc about it a few days ago. Basically, having Mugshot creating a brand new world is a bad idea. Almost no one cares to be part of a new Orkut, or a new Friendster or a new mySpace. Instead, Mugshot should have been developed as an addon to Jabber, right from the beginning. Mugshot and its third party app-hooks functionality can only be kinda useful to an existing world, where users have already established their friends.

I mean, think about it: who the hell cares if user “Eugenia” listens to Guns’n’Roses? Or if Eugenia currently watches “24″? Or if Eugenia currently reads Engadget? Nobody cares, and nobody should care. However, it is a tiny bit more interesting if that person is actually already on your IM list. If someone exists on your IM list, then this person is most probably, your [real] friend. And then, sure, just for our information, it would be kinda interesting to know what our friend listens or watches or reads at any given time. Mugshot could work as an extension of the “away” messages that some IM clients allow you to edit and share.

Jabber/GTalk would have been the best target, as they are open source and very successful already. Adding social features to an already established IM engine it would make youngsters drool (and especially if someone else adds VoIP SIP and Video to Jabber it would make it more useful to us, older users). But in fact, Mugshot represents everything that is wrong with Linux right from its inception: open source developers don’t look at the bigger picture and how to work with other devs in order to make their open source case more acceptable, but instead they re-invent the wheel, constantly and surely.

Even if Havoc –as the manager of the project– see the light and turn the whole Mugshot thing to be part of Jabber, how the current Mugshot users are going to migrate to it? Some of us already have Jabber accounts, but some don’t. And how easy would be to migrate existing Mugshot users to the Jabber login credentials? In other words, it won’t be easy, even if it’s doable. I just hope that something like this happens soon.

In conclusion, we don’t need yet another stinking virtual social network. What we need is interoperability, extendability on an existing network and fewer user accounts in our lives.

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Mr X wrote on June 25th, 2006 at 4:24 AM PST:

pacman -S mugshot

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 25th, 2006 at 4:32 AM PST:

What is that suppose to mean? I have it already installed on one of my Arch Linux installations too. But the WinXP version is as important, and I use it more.

Boo wrote on June 26th, 2006 at 4:59 AM PST:

Sorry, i have no programming background whatsoever…. but did i mistakenly understand from another source that Mugshot will have interoperability with social networks like Myspace?
Perhaps Mugshot devs are aware that there are many bugs to be worked out…and are beta-testing/working out the kinks in a limited environemnt ie. limited number of users, before releasing it out to connect with otehr websites/web services?

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 26th, 2006 at 5:36 AM PST:

Boo, what you say is true, but this doesn’t mean that the whole concept was heading to the right way. All that should have been under the Jabber wing, and they are not. That’s my problem.

Boo wrote on June 27th, 2006 at 2:39 AM PST:

Tat would somewhat be a shame then cos me have no Jabber ;(
*Boo is unfortunately Windows OS dependent*

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 27th, 2006 at 10:36 AM PST:

Before you start using mugshot, you didn’t have a mugshot account either. So I don’t see your point. Mugshot on jabber would bring more users, easier, not more difficultly.

Boo wrote on July 1st, 2006 at 6:30 AM PST:

My point is i hope when mugshot is out of beta….it will rock so much, and that they dont limit it to certain users with certain accounts only ie. Jabber.
I just IM-ed a friend to explain abt Jabber and he goes…”Jabber? [Organisation] used to use it and then it was discontinued.”

I could be mistaken but that sentence led me to thinking that perhaps Jabber would not appeal to home users, students etc. which is probably where Mugshot is headed toward? maybe MAYBE.

In any case, it effectively cuts out a huge portion of potential users. Mugshot wont have personal classifieds of the soft-porn variety i see so often on other “social network” sites (if i may be so bold as to term Mugshot that), but I dont think Mugshot aims to be so DOS-y with their interface if “Mugshot is on Jabber/ Mugshot to be part of Jabber” is what I think you mean.

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