Thursday, September 20, 2007

Beyond social networks

I swear, there is a new one every day. You know what I'm talking about. A new social network. Invitations to join social networks of all kinds and flavors are coming at me from the bit-space faster than I can figure out how many monkey friends it takes to make one of these new networks nominally interesting....

The world doesn't need more social networks. VCs take note. Don't invest in more social networks. They are not going to make it. The model is old. This gets a lot more interesting when the people and the network are not joined. Check out Marc Canter et. al. with their Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web.

Mark Zuckerberg's "social graph" is cool. Facebook has changed the rules in a bold, game-changing way. This will make Mark and many people around him a lot of money. But get this: Facebook denies being a “social network”. They call what they are doing a "social utility". Yet the last time I looked (7 minutes ago) they sure seemed a lot like a portal and a destination to me. I say we call them a social network.

So what is hot if new social networks are not? What is hot is being able to be social where you want to be social.

Why should I have to go to Facebook or Myspace to be social? Why can't my friends just come with me so we can all interact whereever we want to? In the world of atoms I go to a club to hang out with people there. Then I go to a friend's house. I stop by my local Internet cafe to get my iced tea and a croissant, do some plumming and write a blog post. All the while I meet and communicate with friends. Some in person others through the cloud.

As I cruise around to my favorite places online, I'd like to hang out with people I know, check in with my friends wherever they may be and share my discoveries, thoughts and ideas as I go. I want my friends to come with me. I want to connect with them wherever they are. How about if I could know where they are too so I can stop by and say hi. Why should I have to go back to one single place or application - read: a social network" - to hang with my friends. Doesn't make any sense.

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