antipaucity

fighting the lack of good ideas

apps on the network

{This started as a Disqus reply to Eric’s post. Then I realized blog comments shouldn’t be longer than the original post 🙂 }

The app-on-network concept is fascinating: and one I think I’ve thought about previously, too.

Hypothetically, all “social networks” should have the same connections: yet there’s dozens upon dozens (I use at least 4 – probably more, but I don’t realize it). And some folks push the same content to all of them, while others (including, generally, myself) try to target our shares and such to specific locations (perhaps driving some items to multiple places with tools like IFTTT).

Google’s mistake with Google+ was thinking they needed to “beat” Facebook: that’s not going to happen. As Paul Graham notes:

“If you want to take on a problem as big as the ones I’ve discussed, don’t make a direct frontal attack on it. Don’t say, for example, that you’re going to replace email. If you do that you raise too many expectations…Maybe it’s a bad idea to have really big ambitions initially, because the bigger your ambition, the longer it’s going to take, and the further you project into the future, the more likely you’ll get it wrong…the way to use these big ideas is not to try to identify a precise point in the future and then ask yourself how to get from here to there, like the popular image of a visionary.”

That’s where folks who get called things like The Idea Guy™ go awry: instead of asking questions, you try to come up with ideas – like these 999. And if you can’t/don’t, you think you’ve failed.

Social networks should be places where our actual social interactions can be modeled effectively. Yet they turn into popularity contests. And bitch fests. And rant centers. Since they tend towards the asymmetric end of communication, they become fire-and-forget locales, or places where we feel the incessant need to be right. All the time. (Add services like Klout and Kred, and it gets even worse.)

I would love to see a universal, portable, open network like the one Eric describes. All the applications we think run on social networks (like Farmville) don’t. They run on top of another app which runs on “the network”.

Layers on layers leads to the age-old problem of too many standards, and crazy amounts of abstraction. Peeling-back the layers of the apps atop the network could instead give us the chance to have a singular network where types of connections could be tagged (work, fun, school, family, etc, etc – the aspect of G+ that everyone likes most: “circles”). Then the app takes you to the right subset of your network.

Of course – this all leads to a massive problem: security.

If there is only One True Social Network, we all end up entrusting everything we put there to be “safe”. And while some of still follow the old internet mantra, “if you wouldn’t put it on a billboard, don’t put it on a website,” the vast majority of people – seemingly especially those raised coincident to technology’s ubiquitization – think that if they put it somewhere “safe” (like Facebook), that it should be “private”.

After all, the One True Social Network would also be a social engineer’s or identity thief’s Holy Grail – the subversive access to all  of someone’s personal information would be their nirvana.

And that, I think, is the crux of the matter: regardless of what network (or, to use Eric’s terminology, what app-atop-the-network) we use, privacy, safety, and security are all forefront problems.

Solve THAT, and you solve everything.

Or maybe you just decide privacy/security doesn’t matter, and make it all public.

my theory of social networking

I know lots of folks who like to have everything they share on one social network (eg Google+) magically appear on all others they use, too (eg Twitter & Facebook).

While I sometimes share identical content out to several networks, I rarely want precisely the same thing going everywhere all the time. In fact, while I love employing Buffer and IFTTT (including using the latter to push content from G+ elsewhere), I rarely like having the same posts (which aren’t links) appear anywhere else.

Why? To ensure I don’t miss some of the conversation or points raised by splitting my attention between, say, Facebook and Google+.

I find that the communities represented on the social networks I use, while overlaps occur, tend to be relatively distinct.

I see this problem occur in communities I belong to, too – such as the BGLUG. There’s a Facebook group, and a Google+ community. When events are scheduled, they get posted both places: which is great for publicity .. but not so much for keeping continuity of community.

Continuity of conversation and interaction is a Big Deal™, in my opinion.

Multiple conversation points are great – but fragmentation of discussion is not so great (eg comments on a blog post + comments on the social network link post of the blog post).

I asked a question about a subset of this problem a few years ago on Stack Overflow – and the best answer for integrating WordPress-to-Facebook commenting was to use a plugin. That’s awesome – but doesn’t begin to solve the problem of discussions across more than one network.

So, for now, I’ll continue to encourage all my socially-network friends, colleagues, family, and readers to keep conversations as separate as possible on the networks they frequent: improve your signal-to-noise ratio, and make the internet a better place.

what viability would a subscription-based social networking service have?

You see stories like this one, and you wonder how Facebook is continuing to make it. So many people I know are either leaving, or reducing their involvement (including myself), that is seems it is destined to be the next MySpace.

Over the past couple years, I have seen companies advertise themselves by giving links like facebook.com/MyCompany. When it’s in addition to you “real” website (MyCompany.com), that’s not a bad thing.

But when it’s the only outlet you give people to interact with you? You’re outsourcing your business to someone else, and hoping they don’t screw you over.

That doesn’t seem to smart to me.

I understand Facebook needs to make money – they are a business, and not a charity (and even if they were the latter, they still need to pay for electricity, engineers, and equipment). But I think that the pure advertising model is not as lucrative as it once was.

Which makes me wonder how successful a subscription-based social network could be: call it something nominal – maybe $10-20 a year, but give users much fuller control over their “experience”: a mashup of MySpace’s crazy customizability, Facebook’s interface, and LinkedIn’s professionalism.

It’s a thought. Anyone want to build one with me?

bufferapp.com – schedule social media posts

I learned about bufferapp.com this week – finally a way to not overload Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc with posts – and put them in relevant venues easily.

Thanks, Passive Panda.