Monday, November 5, 2007

The problem with Social Networking

Social networking is huge right now, both in usage and press attention. But I look to history to see what the outcome might be. Remember the AOL/Compuserve/Prodigy (and others) battle? How about the home page battle between Yahoo, Excite, Lycos, Infoseek, AOL?

I believe that the competition to be our social network of choice is flawed. Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Flickr, Youtube and others (including small niche communities) all want us to picK them as our single destination, just as we singularly use email, Google search, iTunes and Amazon. Problem is that I just don't have time to check pages on many different communities.

Instead of a social network home page, what I would like to see is the intersection of SOA (service-oriented architecture) and social networking, where I could have my own home page that shows me all my friends/colleagues from all sources. Think of this as a kind of newsreader for social networking. Until this happens, I will spend most of my time on LinkedIn (for work) and occasionally Facebook and Myspace to check out my friends/contacts.

I still believe that the workplace benefits of social networking has yet to hit corporations, and I haven't yet found a compelling story (beyond the US Army) to taut as a shining example. I am still losing the argument of "it just wastes more time", and I can't prove that it will displace email usage to improve business productivity.

But social networking is where web 2.0 technology is focusing, and is not going away anytime soon, so if your not staying current with it, you may miss the boat.

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