Monday, 4 February 2008

Social Network Operating System

In the 2008 Horizon Report, they discuss various technology trends including. Their comments around Social Operating Systems is interesting:
The issue, and what social operating systems will resolve, is that today’s tools do not recognize the “social graph”—the network of relationships a person has, independent of any given networking system or address book; the people one actually knows, is related to, or works with. At the same time, credible information about your social graph is embedded all over the web: in the carbon-copy fields of your emails; in attendee lists from conferences you attend; in tagged Flickr photos of you with people you know; in your comments on their blog posts; and in jointly authored papers and presentations published online.
This is a good definition of what we need from an open layer that allows a transportable, open social graph that we can leverage across various applications.

This address a critical problem that we face right now that I described in Social Networking Entrepreneurial Opportunities on my SoCal CTO Blog.

Certainly, what we are seeing with OpenSocial and DataPortability represents a possible future state where we can avoid some of this issue. If we could focus on building our "destination" on top of a set of open protocols that provide us with the social graph for users but that allows us to control our destiny, I believe that's the right model in most cases. It reduces friction for end-users and still gives us the leverage you want.

What I found interesting and I disagreed with was the statement that:
The essential ingredient of next generation social networking, social operating systems, is that they will base the organization of the network around people, rather than around content.
First, I don’t necessarily consider the social operating system to be “next generation social networking” – rather it’s a layer that allows us to have transportable information between all the places that knows about our information. Social networking sits on top of this and provides interfaces that allow us to interact.

Second, I don’t agree that next generation social networking will be based around people rather than around content. My personal experience is that content and social networks are intertwined. Blogs are both content and a social network. There is a social network around, YouTube, Flickr, etc. I’m much more likely to form and keep a social network when there is common interest in some form of content. And as we see more and more niche networks forming – they will almost invariably form around content. In fact, the Social Operating System will make it more likely that common interest and content will be the tie that binds.

If you go to the introduction page for OpenSocial, you can see that it too focuses as much on content as it does on person to person. The image is great and shows that OpenSocial thinks of the social graph as being BOTH people and content.

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