Social Networking via Shotgun



A good 12 months ago you could depend upon a a solid core of your social network to be centralised on several common social networking sites, such as flickr, twitter, facebook, linkedin. Things where relatively stable, well as much as they can be. Comments on one sns stayed on that sns, comments on a blog, stayed on the blog. The core of the sns mob would from time to time go explore a new sns, sometimes integrating it into the group of core sites sometime not.

That was Then

That was then, as Nick Cowie has pointed out with his person usage, online social networking is changing. As more and more and of the sites move out of their early adopters phases and start to experience growing pains  (yes twitter is an example) they can start to loose their appeal, be it from service interruption, gaining mainstream appeal or just lack of the coolness of being shiny and new.  Hence the mob starts to move away, it’s not on mass like rats from a sinking ship, but a slow bleed.

Yes, social networking online has changed. As you would expect it has morph and transformed as the online communities have embraced the changed in the online environment.

Is it Distributed?

With this type of change it’s no longer centralised or decentralised, its more just distributed.  Your community is spread not just over a few services but now four, five, ten when does it end, be them Plurk, Plaxo, Bright Kite,, Seesmic and so on.  You just can’t be expect to keep up with all these aspects.  Can you?   Sure you can use, hello.txt or MoodBlast (locally) to pump out your status update with an echoing shotgun across the networks.  But that only allows for the output.

Well as was pointed  out a few years back what we need is a lifestream aggregator, such a Friendfeed or Plaxo.  Both these services offer to republish your existing feeds and allow comments on your lifestream.

So now you recollect the community on these services, but they are not aggregating the comment feeds on these aggregated lifestream feeds.  Although they do promote the use of comments on there centralised location.

Hence the problem remains if you want to get the full picture of the community discussions you still have to visit all the respective sites.  So all the lifestream aggregators have really done is add a layer of complexity to it all, the conversation is still distributed like it was on blogs etc.

Are There Solutions

What we need is a conversation and comment aggregator.  Even so consider the noise level, at present services like Friendfeed aren’t too bad, but if you get the feeds of friends friends activated then it becomes a little overwhelming.  Especially if those people are the usual noisy self appointed A-listers.  That’s what the  block function is for, it brings back the sanity.

Sure you can make your lifestream pretty looking with swurl.  Or you can use interface tools like feedly to make the localised feed aggregation via Google Reader that much more usable.  But still the comments are all over the place.

We need a tool that is going to follow the chain of links to the comments and bring them together in a virtual sense so you can see the conversation in one place. Now maybe idAuth can help to a degree, but like OpenID and OAuth it has to take traction.   As after all it’s about the conversation and community.  What good is a distributed conversation.  Maybe socialthing is the answer. But then it’s more a social network manager.

So what do you think has it changed for you, is it for the better, just different, or are you going to just give up and go sulk in some hole in the ground?

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  1. You own this comment. Not in the sense you wrote it; I did, but in the sense that you publish it, or edit it, or delete it. What is needed, and I think or at least hope, will evolve over time is a way for commenters to own their comments, in the same way as bloggers own their blogs, and for IM and Twitterer’s, Face Bookers, friend feeders and so on to own their messages and content. Some sort of standard in the cloud that allows or expects all this social networking to actually be networked, rather than locked away in isolated valuts. Not just a site aggregater either, but some sort of automatic ping back, as widely accepted as HTML is today. Until then, it will be one mad rush from fashion to fashion, with old timers dropping off or remaining stuck with one technology. And, if it does stay this way, you will be able to tell when some one discovered social networking on the web in 2008. They will still be using twitter. It will probably be just me twittering away by myself (as I some times feel I do anyway).

  2. I think that it’s a sign of the maturity of social networking – at the start, as you say, everyone was in a few places – our Out Bush, then everyone moved to the city and it got harder and harder to find people, and the choices got greater.

    I think ultimately our conversations will reduce in size – but our social groups will become tighter. Many people have commented on the ways in which they use tools differently – Twitter for this, Plurk for that… The conversations will be similar to those in real life – a silly one followed by a professional one.

    In many ways i think this explosion is part of the natural evolution of relationships and conversations online –

  3. I think it’s more than maturity. Still via the use of OAuth and a number of clever aggregators it should be possible to collect all the commends of the feeds concerned. Maybe even remove duplicates and echos.

Comments are now closed, move along, nothing to see here.