Social Networking Future

There’s been an interesting discussion brewing on social networking and its future.

Jeremy Zawodny: “Get yourself out of the mind set of social network software for the sake of social network software and start thinking about how adding a social networking component to existing systems could improve them…That’s where the future of systems like Friendster, LinkedIn, Tribe and all those other systems lie. Right now they’re just figuring out the platform. The metadata to capture. The basic functionality on the back-end. The current search and browse interfaces suck, but it doesn’t matter. The real value of this stuff comes from integrating it with services like or Google or your favorite on-line movie tickets site. Like many things on-line, it will move from novelty to utility.”

Richard Stokes adds: “Social software has an inherent network externality. That is, much like Microsoft Office or email, it is only valuable to the extent that other people are using it. The “value-add” follows a typical S-curve model, that is, there is some critical mass of users that must be surpassed before the application is compelling to the masses…The average person will receive value from a software network only if a sufficient number of other people participate. The lack of a critical mass of participants acts as a barrier towards achieving that critical mass. Chicken and egg syndrome…I have hundreds of contacts, but the value I derive from introducing people far exceeds any advantage I would gain by entering them into a system somewhere. Moreover, the value I derive from my hard-earned network is sacrified for the ‘good’ of the system. If anyone, or even just my associates can find out everyone who I know and everything I know about them, I am no longer indispensible. What would possess me to give away my personal ‘competitive advantage’?”

An earlier post by Om Malik:

The question I have is: why 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.

A special application, which allows me to set up my own private As these private tribes grow, I want the ability to exchange link-ups between tribes of my choosing through a format which is similar to say RSS or the XML-RPC. (Smart engineers can figure this out!) This application should be easily downloadable, and easy to install. The developer can charge for it – I would easily fork over $50 – will maintain the sanctity of my network, will insure the purity of the contacts, and if I have something to sell, share or offer, I should profit from it, not some Sand Hill Road maharajah or some dot-commer who is getting a second chance.

And finally, some interesting social software ideas:
– Colloquial mapping: Yahoo Maps + Slashdot
– Geographical opinion systems: Epinions + Friendster
– Collaborative consumed media: Friendster + ??? (some sort of media management service)
– Reputation management ideas: Multi-variate reputation management

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.