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Social Network Fatigue Coming? 196

Posted by kdawson
from the typing-it-all-over-again dept.
mrspin offers the opinion of ZDNet blogger Steve O'Hear that users may soon tire of social networks — if they don't open up and embrace standards allowing greater interoperability among the different networks. O'Hear writes: "Unless the time required to sign-in, post to, and maintain profiles across each network is reduced, it will be impossible for most users to participate in multiple sites for very long." In an earlier post he went into more detail on the same subject, with extensive opinions from four creators of social networks. A contrary data point comes from the Apophenia blog, in a post noting the tendency among young users to create ephemeral profiles, and not to mind at all if they have to re-enter data. "Teens are not looking for universal anything; that's far too much of a burden if losing track of things is the norm." What does Slashdot think — is data portability among social networking sites a big deal or not?
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Social Network Fatigue Coming?

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  • by vistic (556838) * on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @10:50PM (#17439018)
    There are efforts [optrata.com] being made to consolidate all these social network sites into one, common portal like Optrata (one page to rule them all).

    That may be the key for now, because I doubt any "standard" will develop among different social network sites. (I sure can't imagine how myspace, youtube, facebook, livejournal, orkut, etc. would agree on a standard: they all have their own approaches and problems. Myspace would demand every 1/3 request goes to a "under maintenance" page, still filled with a hundred ads and flash videos and other flash apps to crash your browser... and Orkut would demand every 2/3 requests is a server hiccup.)
    • by potat0man (724766) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @11:40PM (#17439432)
      I doubt any "standard" will develop among different social network sites.

      It may not have to. Imagine some software that would come pre-installed with most web hosting accounts or easily installed via c-panel a la wordpress or movabletype and people will no longer need a centralized site in order to connect in the way they seem to want to. Friends lists, message boards, picture commenting and bulletins could all easily be done with a free host and the right software [freshmeat.net]. No need to rely on a central server/company that buries you in ads or censors you [doctorvee.co.uk]. And your less geeky friends could use it from a multitude of free or cheap hosts as their entire page and I could install it in a directory of my site to stay connected in a neat way to my online friends.

      Sure, today the software's too difficult to install and lacks some features. But if that ever changes it could mean a big change in how social networking pages interact with each other: No more middle-man.
      • I'm even sick of posting journal entries!

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Kris_J (10111) *
          I'm even sick of posting journal entries!
          Your entries have been popping up in the Firehose, and I'm sick of them too.
      • by dominion (3153) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @12:54AM (#17440044) Homepage
        Friends lists, message boards, picture commenting and bulletins could all easily be done with a free host and the right software [freshmeat.net].

        Hey, I'm the main appleseed developer. If you have had any problems installing, I'd be interested to hear them. Anything I can do to make it easier to install, the better. I know there's a lot I can do since I haven't focused much on ease of installation, but if you have any ideas, let me know!
        • Installation was a snap for me (on Dreamhost), but it definitely needs PHP4. I left a bug report on your Sourceforge page. Looks great, by the way! Good luck with it.
          • by dominion (3153)
            PHP4? That's interesting. I've been developing under PHP4, but I've also been testing it out on a friends server running php5, and haven't had any trouble. I'll look into it.

            Oh, okay, I see now. Yeah, those are warnings that I haven't been able to work out yet. The quick fix is to go to code/include/classes/appleseed.php and set error_reporting to E_ERROR (around line 703).
        • by sowth (748135)

          I just visited the appleseed site. http://appleseed.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

          The idea looks cool, but you've got a problem with your page (at the top).

          Warning: main(inc/header.inc): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/groups/a/ap/appleseed/htdocs/index.php on line 2

          Warning: main(): Failed opening 'inc/header.inc' for inclusion (include_path='') in /home/groups/a/ap/appleseed/htdocs/index.php on line 2

          • by dominion (3153)

            That's an error that I just haven't been able to track down, and it seems to be a problem with Sourceforge's hosting.
      • I doubt any "standard" will develop among different social network sites.

        It may not have to. Imagine some software that would come pre-installed with most web hosting accounts or easily installed via c-panel a la wordpress or movabletype and people will no longer need a centralized site in order to connect in the way they seem to want to.

        I don't think it has anything to do with software or the interface; I think it has everything to do with the users.

        Participants will probably settle into communities whe

        • by Macthorpe (960048)
          Hell, I'm 24 (or was about a month ago) and I'm fed up with unaccountable shitcocks online, and all I do is maintain a LiveJournal (and post here of course).
      • Sure, today the software's too difficult to install and lacks some features. But if that ever changes it could mean a big change in how social networking pages interact with each other: No more middle-man.

        We had all this back with the E/N pages back in 2000 before Livejournal (and way before Myspace) but the problem is that non-technical people outnumber the technical so E/N pretty much died out.
    • Social Networking is all about sex and status. As long as it can achieve more of those for the user or at least the user can be persuaded of that then the burden is not too much until an easier route appears. If the chicks leave the guys will leave too. If they stay, then the guys will stay too. It's that simple.

      The burnout is just another way of saying it's not worth the effort for the return on the sex.
      • by tacocat (527354)

        Well, my keyboard will be glad to hear that I'll be giving up internet sex soon.

        I don't think there is anything to worry about. I suspect that people actually want to have disparate systems so that they can manage and explore multiple persona's online without anyone making a link between the different personalities. It's like to old story of people making up names when they go to a bar so no one has to worry about a freak traking them down in the morning.

        However, each social network has an interest in b

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bwerdmuller (668895)
      A common portal isn't an answer; it's a fudge that dodges the meat of the issue. However, maybe a bridging API service might be interesting? Something that can talk to the myriad APIs offered by Flickr, Facebook et al, all the while providing a consistent set of calls to application developers.

      The key isn't being able to access data from a consistent visual interface - it's being able to choose where your data is stored, and change both your mind and the nature of the data itself. If you've got a file, you
      • "it's a fudge that dodges the meat "

        There's goodness in that. Really.
      • by avronius (689343) *
        Here's the way I see it...

        Let us assume that you have the ability to create YOUR personal image page/blog/forum/datastore.

        Let us assume that you have the ability to post that image onto one of 3 dozen different portals.

        Now, other portals can "pick up" your portal and present it on their site - the more valuable your content/editorial/novel/art/attitude, the more sites will make it available. Maybe there could even be a percentage of advertising revenues coming back to you if your portal drives more visitors
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by loganrapp (975327)
      Well, as with all things, there will be a new generation of social networking. The buzzword may be new(er), but the act of using the Internet to connect with other people (locally or globally) is, well, pretty much what people do on the Internet. (Porn is still a connection, just one-way and occasionally painful.) There was Usenet, the short-lived Geocities era, e-mail, IRC/Webchat, and then we've moved on to LiveJournal and all its permutations, then to Myspace, Facebook, RSS feeds. People will recogniz
      • The problem is that people like "those horrid profiles" or they would not build them that way, and a huge cottage industry would not have been created based on them (i.e. freeweblayouts.net, pimpmyspace, etc).

        If you consider how difficult it is to explain to people how to cut and paste from one place to another, you can appreciate how much effort people are wiling to go through to create one of those profiles.

        I've created my own social networking site [amazing.com], and after a great deal of thought, I decided to support
    • Well, it is an interesting approach, and it is not the only one, perhaps an even more interesting approach is FindMeOn [findmeon.com] by Jonathan Vanasco, a Perl guy, and Appleseed, whose author is posting here on Slashdot.

      But I believe that singe-site reliance is inheritently evil, standardisation is required. I think there is a very interesting approach in SIOC - Semantically Interlinked Online Communities [sioc-project.org], which seeks to make it possible to share all data across different sites, make it possible to interlink data in th
    • Seriously... What's the first A for? I tried reading their page but got hung up right there.

      One
      page
      to
      rule
      a
      them
      all
    • ...not yet, so don't get grumpy if you think it's crap, but later in the year, we'll be trying a few things to give people a more dignified online presence! The backend is based on some nifty RDF and FOAF machinery. (Firefox only for now, else somethings will break.) GONUMBER.COM [gonumber.com].
  • I use social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and more, to promote my artwork/design services and music. Most of my fans all have profiles on the same sites, and don't seem to have any problems managing their glitter-animated-gif-laiden profiles. Most of those people are also technologically incompetent. I've never heard any complaints (other than the "Why won't my profile load as fast as yours" crap)

  • Relevancy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @10:53PM (#17439044)
    Other than the 20 crowd on MySpace, what's the relevancy of these sites? Classmates.com, where you can find the email address of the douche who sat behind you in History class? Yahoo groups, where you can look at a lot of bad, amateur porn?
    Is there fatigue over these sites, or just ennui, due to their fundamental lack of any content, other than being circle-jerks?
    • Re:Relevancy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cloricus (691063) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @11:23PM (#17439302)
      Due to the choice of words of the parent post to this it will get modded troll though I think it is an important question. What is the point of these pits of content? I play my favorite mmo (eve online) and I chat with the guys on that often, I idle on irc and chat with people I know there, and I've got the odd forum around the place. Though at the end of the day though I leave the house and socialise with my friends at our local net cafe or hang out at different places. These social networking sites seem to grab the non geeks around and draw them onto the net even though they already have the real life social aspect. And I'm the geek! It basically leaves me thinking it is a fad or nothing at all.

      Seriously am I the only one that just doesn't get social networking sites?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kadin2048 (468275)
        I can't speak for other social sites besides Facebook, because I can't stand them (too much dark-blue-on-black, and who thought embedding sounds in HTML was a feature?) but I think it's major function is just to act as distributed, collaborative address book. The demand for this sort of thing is pretty obvious and has been for some time -- the traditional finger command did some of it, including listing people's addresses (or office location), email, and other contact info. Unlike a static address book stor
      • Re:Relevancy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by theStorminMormon (883615) <theStorminMormon ... m ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @01:16AM (#17440206) Homepage Journal
        Because you need to have a life to get social networking sites.

        I don't mean to be harsh, and I'm not looking to get modded a troll, but most people who enjoy using social sites over the long-term (in my opinion) have a lot of friends they actually care to keep in contact with. I'm a big Facebook user. It helps me keep up with my two sisters away at college as well as a lot of old friends of mine from high school and from college that I actually care to keep up with.

        This is very different from internet-based relationships. (And that's where "have a life" may be harsh.) If you're into EVE Online or whatever, that's great. But your relationship with those people is, fundamentally, based in a digital medium. Sometimes MMO players get together in real life, sometimes really tight messageboard communities do the same thing. But that's the exception rather than the norm. The norm is for users brought together by a common interest to have little interest in maintaining relationships with those people in the absence of the common interest.

        I played Planetside for a while. Not really an MMORPG, but certainly an MMO back in its day. I had an outfit (Guild, if you will) and several people that I considered friends in my Planetside world. Not only were they in my outfit, but we worked well together, laughed at each others jokes, and generally enjoyed playing together. That was the extent of it, however. I'm not saying I would not have cared to know how their day was outside of Planetside, or how their relationship was going. I may have cared, but that would have been a different kind of relationship. It would have been, for lack of a less-harsh term, caring about their real life and not just the game life.

        American culture is more mobile than ever. It's normal go to high school in one city, go to college in another city, and get a job in a third city. And even if you don't move around that much, some of your friends certainly will. It's precisely these 18 - 25 year olds who use these sites. They are trying to find a kind of stability in their ever-changing world. If your entire circle of friends is cycled at least every 4 years, you may want to find a way to combat that social churn and get a more stable set of friends. A sense of permenance and community.

        As far as the original question about portability goes, I don't think it's that much of an issue. I chose Facebook precisely because it's not MySpace. I have no desire to be a part of the MySpace community, or any other community. If I do want to join another community, then I think re-entering my data would be a minimal issue. Some data portability would be nice, but hardly required. And in any case, functional data portability (e.g. not just my personal stats, but my friends) is really difficult without creating semi-official digital selves or using a lot of personally-identifiable data. Either of these options result in serious privacy concerns, so I'll trade a little re-keying for a new social cite to keep my data relatively anonymous.

        -stormin
        • by arvindn (542080)
          Thank you. That one comment is worth more than all the other comments on this story. It is also the reason why the the entire discussion on this story is irrelevant; it doesn't matter what /. thinks -- it's not slashdotters that are using social networks.
          • by WNight (23683)
            But, in the sense that Slashdotters have probably been around longer (on the net at least) than Facebook and Myspace users, "we" probably have a good sense of what will kill a site.

            These sites just don't offer much. Replacing MySpace could be a weekend project in RoR, for the technology. It's growing only because of the network effect - your friends are there and it seems that you should be too. But, when you've used one or two of these sites you quickly realize that they're all exactly the same and that My
      • by tacocat (527354)

        You are a geek. You think differently than the non-geeks do. I have three cases of internet users in my house.

        Children: These are technophiles that want to use technology because it provides seconds of entertainment but have absolutely zero desire to actually learn about anything related to technology. They are also blindly driven by their adolescent instinct to socialize and use technology as the means to satiatate the need. They easily can spend hours on IM or MySpace trolling for something that the

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Is there fatigue over these sites, or just ennui, due to their fundamental lack of any content

      It's the fundamental lack of ~intelligent~ content that makes me not care about any of it. Any intelligent comment on Digg or Youtube is like a tree falling in a forest somewhere. The Usenet was exclusive at one time and still has interesting specialty discussions. The WWW has proven that millions of people who can afford Internet access have nothing to say and has become worse than Tee-Vee. The latter is an amoral

    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @12:09AM (#17439640)
      Well, some years ago I used Classmates to find a girl I used to know back in high school (it was three decades ago but what the hell.) Turns out she's still hot and actually available after all these years. Unfortunately I wasn't (hot or available) so I don't know why I bothered in the first place.

      So, yeah, okay. Ten points to Gothmolly.
  • No, it's not (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hahafaha (844574) * <lgrinberg@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @10:53PM (#17439046)

    Social network fatigue is not coming.

    Why, you ask? The reason is that as the number of things that people do increases, so does the number of things that social networking sites offer. A great example is Yahoo! which I would argue is a social networking site. It offers email, games, news, music, you name it. I am convinced beyond a doubt that they will start offering blogging in the near future, particularly, as competition to Google's Blogger.

    Yahoo! is a great example of an all-in-one philosophy. Google is doing similar things. Pretty soon, however, people are just going to have one account on one giant social networking site. There will be competition, of course, and some will have accounts on one but not the other, but pretty soon, very few people are going to actually have many different accounts.

    • Re:No, it's not (Score:4, Informative)

      by garcia (6573) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @11:19PM (#17439270) Homepage
      Google is doing similar things. Pretty soon, however, people are just going to have one account on one giant social networking site.

      Yup, Dodgeball [dodgeball.com] (owned by Google) uses your Google Account login to authenticate you. Blogger uses the same authentication whether you are doing a comment or hosting your own blog.

      Personally, I would rather see separate accounts for everything but it's not like they can't track just about everything we do already.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jav1231 (539129)
      "very few people are going to actually have many different accounts."
      I disagree with this "mondo site" philosophy. Young people drive a lot of what's hip and not hip. Yes, technology can build and gain momentum but social aspects are popularity driven, not technology driven. The tech is not always obvious. MySpace arguably has some of the worse tech and a hideous interface yet it's popular. I believe there will be more fragmentation and popularity will shift from site to site as it always has.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hahafaha (844574) *
        MySpace arguably has some of the worse tech and a hideous interface

        Arguably?

        But seriously, people will keep switching, no doubt about it. What will change is what they switch. Instead of changing small, dedicated services, they will switch larger ones.

  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @11:03PM (#17439124) Homepage Journal
    plasticity of identity, the throw away indentity. it makes sense for teenagers and their psychological development as they grapple with exactly who they are: try on one identity, throw it away, start over. it also means that the generation that grows up with the web from birth will be very used to the idea of identities being disposable, for themselves, and in how others act towards them as well

    this opens up new weaknesses in social interaction, and new strengths. in a world where identity theft is a growing menace, why would that matter when your identity is made of mercury anyways? at the same time, how can anyone be trusted in a world where the idea of a solid identity is built on a foundation of sand?

    i see weird confluences of unseen consequences coming out of the new plasticity of identity due to how the web works in the generation currently in their teens, making its way into their very psychology. in ways us ancient fossils in our 20s and 30s won't even understand

    "bah, kids these days"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ScrewMaster (602015)
      i see weird confluences of unseen consequences coming out of the new plasticity of identity due to how the web works in the generation currently in their teens, making its way into their very psychology. in ways us ancient fossils in our 20s and 30s won't even understand

      I dunno. "Plasticity of identity" is all well and good until you go try and apply for a mortgage, or manage a career. Plastic people tend to get their attitudes readjusted real fast, when society eventually expects them to go through thei
  • About time! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sacbhale (216624)
    Social networks should soon start seeing interoperability like email. Because like TFA says people are not interested to go join every new site that pops up but would love to be in touch with the people who are on that site and not the one they am on. Just like we are begining to see the consolidation of IM networks (Yahoo talking to MSN, Jabber servers talkin to each other etc) there'd better start a move to interconnect the social networks soon. They dont all have to have the exact same features but agree
    • by dominion (3153)
      Social networks should soon start seeing interoperability like email.

      I've been working on an open source software that uses a distributed protocol. It's called Appleseed [sourceforge.net]
    • by Reziac (43301) *
      Sounds like you're talking about essentially a "social phonebook" where users would be listed by name and/or handle(s), and under each person's entry, a list of sites they use. This could be used in a variety of ways; frex, friends could agree on a "common meeting place" online, or get back in touch with someone after a site vanishes. It would no doubt also be much beloved of marketers, especially if the root entry included the user's profile.

  • To quite the contrary, in an era of online big-brother government snooping, I'd actually prefer that my social networking data be as un-portable as possible, thankyouverymuch. *breaks out roll of tinfoil, begins folding*
  • 1. Maybe you don't *want* data to be portable. It'd make it that much easier for spammers, hiring managers, etc. to scrape the web for your info. 2. I imagine MySpace et al will end up like the instant messengers, either with networks merging/interoperating or a universal client that will be able to interface with all the networks.
    • by tcopeland (32225)
      > 1. Maybe you don't *want* data to be portable.

      And if that's the case, you might want to look at indi [getindi.com]. You can send pictures/movies/documents/whatever over channels, but it's all encrypted and only you and the people in your group can descrypt it. Kind of like email without the spam and attachment size limits. But secure.
  • Single service (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vga_init (589198) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @11:11PM (#17439196) Journal

    I was under the impression that most people stuck to a single service anyway. Maybe they have multiple accounts across the board, but they probably devote most of their time to just one.

    Which one they choose depends on their "network." Just like instant messaging, some people will use aim, some will use yahoo, some will use msn. Some will try to keep up with all of them, and some will occasionally convert for someone special. The headline makes it sound like people will tire of social networking in general, but typically people will always be social, so that won't hurt the business.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kadin2048 (468275)
      I think you hit the nail on the head. Most people I know don't use multiple services. They might maintain accounts on multiple services (say, Facebook and MySpace, probably the most common pairing I've seen) but usually devote most of their time to one profile or the other. Generally in time, the disused profile becomes basically a pointer to the more-used one.

      Sometimes people might go back and forth, spending some time working on their Facebook profile and then a few months concentrating on their Myspace p
  • I joined LibraryThing [librarything.com] recently, and it was interesting to see that they've included the option to link to your profile on many other social network sites - Myspace, LJ, Blogger ... and Slashdot. I set up a squidoo [squidoo.com] as well, and they pull out the RSS for my blog and display summaries.

    I guess all this has a logical conclusion, where someone sets up a meta-site that pulls together all your online profiles into one 'ME' page. When they do that, it'll be quite something. Imagine all your Myspace friends witho
  • I have my own site, I wrote my own blogging engine and I have total control over it. I am sure most slashdotters can program and code their own site like me, even though we might be the only user on our sites, it wouldn't matter because it's not like we have a life outside of our mother's basement.
  • by pestilence669 (823950) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @11:18PM (#17439252)
    Reading profiles and looking at friend lists will get old eventually. If Napster were still around, I doubt kids would even waste their time.
    • It's not a waste of time as long as there are essays to write, homework to practice, and exams to study for.
    • by conigs (866121)
      Reading profiles and looking at friend lists will get old for any given user in the demographic social networking sites cater to. However, the users in that demographic keep cycling. One person gets bored and phases out, at least one new user discovers this wonderous new (to them) site and phases in.
      Take sex or rebellion. Every generation thinks they've invented both. By the time they realize they haven't, an entire new generations begins the process again.
      So while the individual users may get bored or m
  • I don't really see the fatigue thing happening. I know a couple of people who have myspace accounts, and the amount of time they devote to their pages is insane. Well, hey, the amount of time I spend on Slashdot is insane, too :-) Coincidentally, I just set up a myspace account, thinking it would be a nice way to keep in touch with these two people. I was amazed by how user-hostile it was. By the time I was done messing around for an hour, I had a page that was 75% ads, plus some content about myself that I
  • by daeg (828071) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @11:21PM (#17439288)
    Re-keying profile data is nothing -- how often do you change your birthplace or last name?

    The guts of every social networking website is the friends systems, messaging/IM, photos, blogging (of one form or another), commenting, etc. Why would SocialNetworkA want to share that with SocialNetworkB? That assumes they are alike, and for social networking websites to all survive, they will need to differentiate and stay that way. In face, they already have -- Facebook, for instance, is geared more toward the college student/post-college professional. MySpace was started for bands/music. Etc.

    When you're posting about your class schedule, do you really care if your friends back home on MySpace see it? Doubtful.

    Besides, if all the social networking websites were the same, how could teens carry on their multiple mood swings throughout a day?

    Mood: happy :-)
    Mood: angry >:\
    Mood: horny :-o
    Mood: suicidal X-|
  • Nobody cares (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AuMatar (183847) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @11:25PM (#17439328)
    We'll see a decline in social networking sites, but not due to lack of standards. It will be due to lack of use. Growth will slow to zero, since anyone who wants to do that shit already does. In the meantime, they'lllose users like mad as people realize that

    1)There's no damn difference between a myspace account and a personal webpage people have had since the 90s
    2)Nobody really reads the damn things anyway- people love writing due to the sheer egotism of it, but nobody really reads the damn things except the small circle of friends they'd talk to anyway.

    They don't care about signing in (come on, 90% of people just use the remember me or browser password storage anyway). They don't need a standard way to enter text, its a giant textbox everywhere. They don't care about profile sharing, chances are far and away they use a single main site and only update that one anyway. There's no real benefit to a standard for any of these things.
    • by pimpimpim (811140)
      My prediction, based on personal experience: Social networking sites will come and go and keeping the people busy that like that kind of thing. Popular ones will fade in time because new people will only go to the new site where all their friends are, and the old members will stop using their account in time because their friends by then have better things to do and they get tired of updating their profile which noone reads anyway. Some sites have an advantage that they offer extra value, e.g. myspace offer
    • by dk.r*nger (460754)

      2)Nobody really reads the damn things anyway- people love writing due to the sheer egotism of it, but nobody really reads the damn things except the small circle of friends they'd talk to anyway.

      Just because it's the internet, it's not a criteria for success that you have millions of visitors.
      The phone only allows you to disperse your thought to one (or very few) persons at a time, but there are billions connected to the phone network. Yet, phones are still here.
      Point: This is talking to a small circle of f

  • There are a bunch of efforts at linking sites and identities together using either HTML or RDF, including XFN [gmpg.org] and FOAF [foaf-project.org].
  • Absolutely, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dominion (3153) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @11:30PM (#17439372) Homepage
    if they don't open up and embrace standards allowing greater interoperability among the different networks.

    It makes perfect sense for people outside of these corporations to see that... But from within, how do you balance interoperability with the business necessity of maintaining your users? For-profit sites aren't interested in that balancing act. They'll keep their walled garden as isolated as they can.

    I've been developing an open source, distributed social networking software called Appleseed [sourceforge.net], and honestly, I think the solution is going to have to come from an open source solution. As long as profit and market share are the main motivating factors of companies like Facebook, Friendster, Myspace, etc., there is absolutely no incentive to design things properly.

    Appleseed, and open source in general, has the freedom to be able to do things right. Create an interoperable network of social networking "nodes" which use a standard protocol to connect and interact. It's very simple, and the rules of business that these companies have to follow is the only thing keeping that from happening from within the proprietary world.

    I see it as analagous to the old days of email. Back in the day, you had Compuserve, you had AOL, and Prodigy, and other competing services that attempted to monopolize their user base by refusing interoperability. But eventually, they had no choice but to adopt standard E-Mail for their users.

    Let's face it, in this day and age, there is no single, good technological answer for why a user on MySpace can't send a message or a friend request to a user on Friendster, other than "We [myspace] doesn't want them to." Which is not an answer that people will tolerate for long.

    This is an itch, and open source (namely, Appleseed, since it seems like the solution which is the farthest along) is the only way to scratch it. [sourceforge.net]
    • In the IM space, the Jabber (XMPP) protocol seems to be the preferred open standard. Jabber has authentication with a server, identification of contacts or friends, distributed communications between servers, file transfers etc. Do you see Appleseed as having any future overlap, integration with or extension of the Jabber protocol?
      • by dominion (3153)
        Do you see Appleseed as having any future overlap, integration with or extension of the Jabber protocol?

        Absolutely. I hope to eventually have your appleseed address (which looks just like an email address) work as a Jabber address as well, for those appleseed nodes which opt to serve as jabber servers as well. Possibly even try and make the appleseed protocol more of an extension of the jabber protocol?

        I also hope to have a pop-in window for jabber chat, just like Gmail uses.

        This is definitely farther dow
    • by seanyboy (587819)
      Wow! I was thinking about this just yesterday.

      There's certainly a need for distributed Social Networking. I'd love to be able to add these features to sites administered by myself and allow Friend Requests, bulletins, etc to propagate seamlessly between like-minded domains. I'd also like to control the hosting for my own social-networking home page.

      Friend requests would come from "name@domain.com" instead of "name", but I can't see that being a problem for people.

      I had assumed that the first thing that woul
  • by Martin Foster (4949) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @11:42PM (#17439456) Homepage
    When I started getting more active in online communities, I recall getting involved with a site named WBS. This system was massive, featuring hundreds of rooms and thousands of players at any given time. Of course, like most things during that day if it showed an inkling of success it was purchased by a large corporations and subsequently change in a way to sour the proverbial milk.

    Eventually, WBS was shut down as a web-based chat system and people were scattered to the wind. Some smaller sites opened up, some of which are still active today, but none of them ever captured the greatness that was prior to their inception and none worked well with one another. It was during I decided to kill a bit of time and code my own site, being throughoughly disgruntled by the administration of certain of those sites.

    The code I built grew in scope, adding features that had been lost when WBS fell, adding my own, expanding into galleries, forums and adding new features including a social network/dating profile addition. Naturally people started to notice and flocked to my site which generated a modest amount of traffic day in and day out.

    There was one difference however from my site and others who offered similiar services and that was code released under the GPL and made freely available. While the code to this day is still a bit difficult to install (tons of modules it depends on) other sites managed to get it going and it caused an unexpected side effect. Essentially it allowed other people to create a multitude of splinter sites, without having to know programming, database administration or even administration of a Unix based server.

    As a result of the GPL, these sites featured the same options, functionality, features as the main site with a possible lag in development/release time. However even when I closed my site and people moved on, I noticed that the splinter sites kept popping up with (specific niche needs) here and there using the code and the features that had been put into the code for years.

    Perhaps social networking is in for such a step. Essentially, a commodity-based approach to the product and through standards/common code allow people to find communities that match their needs. Sure it may not be a Lavalife, Facebook, MySpace in which everyone and their dog is there, but people do seem to find comfort in a little corner to the world being their own, a community of like-minded people a net centered neighbourhood.

    On a side note, I also found that once the code allowed for things such as import/export of handles and such, people tended to flow freely from one site to another. I wonder if implementing OpenID on the system would increase that movement?
  • here is that there's too much overlap in social networking sites, everyone is trying to do the same thing the other guys is doing, only better. At that point, there's no reason to offer interoperability because it offers nothing to pare down the sameness of each site. I think what social networking sites need to do first is offer some type of differntiation amongst themselves, more than a simple "myspace on cingular" or "friendster mobile email". Only when each site is unique will there be reason for intero
  • Yep. Usenet.
  • Does that count?

    Myspace is painful to look at, and really, no one I know is so interesting that I need to go read their blogs. The entire idea of a whole page dedicated to me is egotistical in the extreme; I realize I am not that important.
  • O'Hear writes: "Unless the time required to sign-in, post to, and maintain profiles across each network is reduced, it will be impossible for most users to participate in multiple sites for very long."

    Duh. The point is the sites are in competition with one another. You're not supposed to use all of them, you're supposed to sign your allegiance to one and ignore people who use the others, kinda like high school cliques in real life.

    users may soon tire of social networks -- if they don't open up and embrace s

  • by ZombieRoboNinja (905329) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @12:01AM (#17439590)
    My friends have occasionally directed me to their blogs and myspace/facebook pages over the years, and it's honestly been more of a hassle than I cared to deal with to sign up for each and every one just to see their crappy cell phone pics or whatever. The few I care enough to read regularly (like the blog of my friend in Japan) I just comment "anonymously" with my name in the comment. When MySpace wants me to login, I use BugMeNot to get a random login. Same for YouTube's oh-so-scandalous "mature"-tagged videos and the rest of that crap.

    The point? These sites aren't just "fatiguing" current users; they're scaring away potential users like me who aren't willing to sit through 5-10 minutes of entering (fake) personal information just to occasionally watch a 3-minute video clip or read a meandering myspace post written by a friend who's too lazy to just goddamn email me.
  • What does Slashdot think -- is data portability among social networking sites a big deal or not?

    Social networking aside, data portability isn't a big deal for 99.9% of computer users.
  • "Unless the time required to sign-in, post to, and maintain profiles across each network is reduced, it will be impossible for most users to participate in multiple sites for very long."

    This will not happen because these for profit sites do not want you to use other networks, certainly not with theirs.

  • ZDNet blogger Steve O'Hear [claims] that users may soon tire of social networks -- if they don't open up and embrace standards allowing greater interoperability among the different networks

    The commons hasn't embraced standards in IM, why should social networking be any different? You build a successful on-line community by appealing directly to your target audience:

    Countries and Cultures, Age and Sex, Income and Interests. The commons won't care that you've built a walled garden, if the garden is where t

  • As I wrote once before, social networking sites, like nightclubs, have a life cycle. They start out, get some users, and if they're well run and lucky, become cool. Then they become too popular, the percentage of losers goes up, the cool people leave, and they go into a slow decline.

    This has already happened to AOL (peaked sometime last century), Geocities (peaked before 2002), Nerve (peaked in 2002), and Tribe (peaked in Q1 2006). Facebook, Myspace, and LinkedIn look flat, but it's too early to tell.

  • 1999 called, (Score:3, Informative)

    by iroll (717924) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @03:18AM (#17441018) Homepage
    Replace "social network" with "instant messaging client" and voila; 1999 is calling, and they want their interoperbility whine back.

    Face it: IM is no more interroperable now than it was then; sure, there's a few niche clients like Trillian operating, but what percent of users use them?

    People do one of two things: they suck it up and use more than one service at once, or they pick the one they like (or that serves more of their friends) and bail on the others. I have seen my friends (and myself, for that matter) do this with myspace, facebook, and friendster already. You start out with 3, and you end up with 1.
  • Do adults not need to socialise?
  • Well, for me, anyway. I'd had accounts on just about everything since Friendster, but I really did a lot of consolidating onto just one site (and off Friendster, Orkut, Tribe, MySpace, LiveJournal, etc.) in the last year or so. It was just too much of a pain to log into a half-dozen different sites when I could just go to one that did a fairly good job as far as blogging, reviewing, photo sharing, music sharing, video sharing, link sharing, and a (so far) so-so job of calendaring. (And offered RSS so fol
  • by OldManAndTheC++ (723450) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @04:18AM (#17441352)
    Too fatigued...
  • by shish (588640)
    How many services support publishing / subscribing to RSS feeds just as easily as to internal accounts? I see depressingly few, even though this would be an easy and effective way of making things more connected...
  • If one were to consolidate all the social networking sites, they'd lose their appeal. The main thing that draws people to such sites is to network with like-minded people.

    I don't think I'd very much care for digg, kuro5hin, and fark to be merged in with slashdot.
  • My prediction: Google + some XML-based format = problem solved.

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