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« Ideas for Social Software | Main | EWeek on enterprise social software »

January 2, 2004

Om Malik on commercial social networking tools

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Posted by Clay Shirky

OM goes off on commercial social networking ventures:
The question I have is: why the F**K should I share my network of contacts with these commercial entities. They are like BlogSpot that does nothing for my brand equity and in many ways chews me out after making the network connections. Thus what I want is a “MoveableType” of social networking. Blogs took off because it was about one person - me. My social networks should be of my making for me. Lets figure out a way to cut out the middlemen.
The answer to his original question is, of course, is "the logic of collective action." Everyone building their Rolodex on their own is both redundant and deflecting of growth. Cleint/server architectures offer a way for information to be entered once and only once (as with those distributed address book things.) The companies building server-based socuial networking sites are doing so in part because doing it on a server is efficient, and in part because it is also a good way to capture value, for (they hope) later rent extraction. The trick Om wants to pull off, and its the trick of all decentralized applications, is to reconstruct the logic of collective action so that users can create value for themselves, without having their data held hostage. Napster did it by brokering connections while holding none of the user's actual music (though they never got to the "Now how do we make money?" stage) -- I wonder if a "broker intros only/connections live with the user" app could take off?

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: social software


1. Kevin on January 2, 2004 2:37 PM writes...

Isn't this what Friend Of A Friend (FOAF) is about? It looks like there are browsing tools for FOAF networks; presumably there are authoring tools as well.

FOAF project (not currently responding??)
FOAF browser
FOAF article

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2. Lucas on January 3, 2004 5:17 AM writes...

I'm curious to know what rights a Friendster user has to their data. It is not as obvious as online banking (user has full rights) or Amazon reviews (co-copyright I believe) since who is to say where your friends of friends ownership ends? If nowhere, then you could mirror a copy on your local harddrive... Anyone?

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