Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Too many social networks................

Urgh- was at a bloggers' meet on Sunday(check it out here) and this one guy got on my nerves(and I think I have company).

I called him Twitty Bird(sorry Tweety...!), because he follows a few thousand folks on Twitter. And he also is on Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, and I shudder to think where else.
Now, he seemed like a guy who was out to sell his goods, and so I suppose I see why he'd be on so many networks. So that's fine.

But it occurred to me that there are way too many social networks out there. Waaaaaaaaaaaay tooooooooooooooooo maaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnyyyyyyyyyyy. And it's really irritating because you never really know which one's hot and which one isn't, until you either find half your high school on one, or hear that AOL paid $850 MM for another.

So I was thinking, maybe there should be a directory of social networks somewhere. You know...something like:
Find your old friends from school - Facebook
Develop your professional network- LinkedIn
Keep up with your friends' activities on the web- Friendfeed
There could even be more than one in each category, maybe letting users vote for the best ones, sortable by popular features.

When it comes to the social net, there are deep divides between adoption and participation, participation and meaningful interaction, interaction and personal/social utility. Just because you signed up for LinkedIn doesn't mean you'll get a job, and just because you have a lot of friends on Facebook doesn't mean you create meaningful value for the Facebook network. And most importantly, just because a lot of folks hang out on Orkut doesn't mean you need to, as well.

So I'd like to see someone come up with an online version of "Social Networks for Dummies"- an outline of most social networks out there, how to tell what might be useful for you, techniques for sociably deriving benefit from each type of network, and other fun things that might solve the adoption > participation problem.

Just a fleeting thought.


Riff said...

Hi Preetam

What you are talking about can be solved with standards for social networks (opensocial) and a single logon (open ID).

In the real world we are members of many networks and the relative importance we give to these networks is situational... and the same is true for social networks. Different networks mean different things, serve different purposes at different times in life.

If there was a standard and a consistency to these networks then we can never have enough of them, but if there is a lack of standards leading to the creation of secluded communities then even two is too many.