HackySoc: A cheap, flexible messaging device

hackysoc_should_be_homeHackySoc is a flexible, light-weight and open-source messaging system designed to facilitate the exploration of internet-connectedness, understood as both social interaction or as interaction with smart objects. It includes both an open-source hardware device and an open-source software API. It has two fundamental characteristics: firstly, it introduces no new server technologies and secondly, it is not shackled to any closed commercial systems.


Research Question
What would a social network look like if it did not depend on any newly introduced server technologies and was not shackled to existing commercial systems, but was dynamically extensible by all its users. Is it possible to design and implement such a network? What existing open technologies might it be built upon? Is it feasible to conceive an open platform that does not depend on any centralised servers? What would this social network look like? How might it change or challenge the current norms of networked social behaviours.

HackySoc can be used as a functional, flexible and expandable social network, where both the hardware abstraction and the software abstraction of social networks can be explored. It can also be used to explore the social integration with network connected objects.

HackySoc’s software stack is licensed as open-source. The project can be downloaded or forked on github. Instructions on how to setup and configure HackySoc are available here.

hackysoc_with_screenIt uses the existing, lightweight, scalable and deeply embedded POP3 and SMTP protocols as its messaging backbone. As such, HackySoc has no dependence on new technologies and thus offers a solid degree of future-proof-ness. It has no dependence on critical-mass uptake, and can be used in isolation.

HackySoc’s hardware design is based on the popular and widespread open-source Arduino platform. Thus, HackySoc is cheap and available to a wide group of people. Further, the broad range of modules available to the Arduino platform are also available to HackySoc. Sensors and actuators of all forms can be easily and seamlessly integrated with HackySoc, thus blurring the boundaries between social messaging, and object messaging.


This list of published papers provides a background to the project’s research context.

  • De Filippi, Primavera and McCarthy, Smari, Cloud Computing: Centralization and Data Sovereignty (October 26, 2012). European Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 3, No 2, 2012. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2167372
  • Dmytri Kleiner, The Telekommunist Manifesto. Network Notebooks 03, Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam, 2010. ISBN: 978-90-816021-2-9.
  • Cutillo, L.A., Molva, R. and Strufe, T., 2009, June. Safebook: Feasibility of transitive cooperation for privacy on a decentralized social network. In World of Wireless, Mobile and Multimedia Networks & Workshops, 2009. WoWMoM 2009. IEEE International Symposium on a (pp. 1-6). IEEE.
  • Ackermann, M., Hymon, K., Ludwig, B. and Wilhelm, K., 2009, January. Helloworld: An open source, distributed and secure social network. In W3C Workshop on the Future of Social Networking.
  • Bird, C., Gourley, A., Devanbu, P., Gertz, M. and Swaminathan, A., 2006, May. Mining email social networks. In Proceedings of the 2006 international workshop on Mining software repositories (pp. 137-143). ACM.
  • González-Manzano, L., González-Tablas, A.I., de Fuentes, J.M. and Ribagorda, A., 2013. User-Managed Access Control in Web Based Social Networks. In Security and Privacy Preserving in Social Networks (pp. 97-137). Springer Vienna.
  • Aiello, L.M. and Ruffo, G., 2012. LotusNet: Tunable privacy for distributed online social network services. Computer Communications, 35(1), pp.75-88.
  • Jahid, S., Nilizadeh, S., Mittal, P., Borisov, N. and Kapadia, A., 2012, March. DECENT: A decentralized architecture for enforcing privacy in online social networks. In Pervasive Computing and Communications Workshops (PERCOM Workshops), 2012 IEEE International Conference on (pp. 326-332). IEEE.
  • Tootoonchian, A., Saroiu, S., Ganjali, Y. and Wolman, A., 2009, December. Lockr: better privacy for social networks. In Proceedings of the 5th international conference on Emerging networking experiments and technologies (pp. 169-180). ACM.
  • Buchegger, S., Schiöberg, D., Vu, L.H. and Datta, A., 2009, March. PeerSoN: P2P social networking: early experiences and insights. In Proceedings of the Second ACM EuroSys Workshop on Social Network Systems (pp. 46-52). ACM.
  • Cutillo, L.A., Molva, R. and Strufe, T., 2009, February. Privacy preserving social networking through decentralization. In Wireless On-Demand Network Systems and Services, 2009. WONS 2009. Sixth International Conference on (pp. 145-152). IEEE.
  • Graffi, K., Gross, C., Stingl, D., Hartung, D., Kovacevic, A. and Steinmetz, R., 2011, January. LifeSocial. KOM: A secure and P2P-based solution for online social networks. In Consumer Communications and Networking Conference (CCNC), 2011 IEEE (pp. 554-558). IEEE.
  • Guha, S., Tang, K. and Francis, P., 2008, August. NOYB: privacy in online social networks. In Proceedings of the first workshop on Online social networks (pp. 49-54). ACM.
  • Yeung, C.M.A., Liccardi, I., Lu, K., Seneviratne, O. and Berners-Lee, T., 2009, January. Decentralization: The future of online social networking. In W3C Workshop on the Future of Social Networking Position Papers (Vol. 2, pp. 2-7).
  • Graffi, K., Groß, C., Mukherjee, P., Kovacevic, A. and Steinmetz, R., 2010, August. LifeSocial. KOM: A P2P-based platform for secure online social networks. In Peer-to-Peer Computing (P2P), 2010 IEEE Tenth International Conference on (pp. 1-2). IEEE.

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