During the summer of 2011, Benjamin Englard, a junior in high school, conducted research in our lab (ACIS) as part of the SSTP program and contributed to the Litter project (a decentralized Twitter alternative). Ben implemented several features in Litter from finding gaps in a user’s timeline to enhancing the web interface. In January 2012, Ben competed in the Miami-Dade County Science Fair and won first place. Congratulations Ben, and good luck as you continue on to the state fair.
For over two years now, thousands of people from all over the world have downloaded SocialVPN (click here for GoogleCode stats) and we hope that they have found it useful. However, we wanted to give an example of how SocialVPN is not only for the tech savvy user. We decided to demonstrate how SocialVPN can provide a peer-to-peer foundation for many distributed applications. A recent hot topic on the web is the need for a decentralized (or distributed) alternative to Twitter that makes it possible for friends to send updates to each other without depending on a central server. We figured with SocialVPN writing such an application should be fairly simple. It turns out that we were right and we wrote a simple prototype of a microblogging service called Litter (Twitter for the LAN) to make our case. If you are interested in how it works, check it out on Github.