Ming the Mechanic:

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Facebook2007-06-17 20:09
picture by Flemming Funch

I've seen this movie before but this sequel is different & better because it's a blockbuster and everybody's doing it
Roland Tanglao, paraphrasing Tim Bray. We're talking about Facebook.

I didn't pay attention to Facebook before just recently. I'm a member of too many online social networks where I have a list of "friends", and nothing else is going on. And at first glance Facebook sounded like just another one, and one I'd be even less interested in than the others. Its positioning seemed to be about finding people you went to college with and that kind of thing, which sounded boring.

I had indeed signed up quite a while ago, and I was getting friend confirmation requests. But the problem is that the options they give you all seemed irrelevant. Normally I've met people online, maybe through blogs, maybe we were in the same network or group or something, or maybe we met at a conference. But none of those are among the choices, so I had to settle for "Met Randomly", even though it wasn't very random. So that just confirmed that it wasn't for me, and I never logged in. Until it became apparent that a lot of people I know think it is a great thing, and I actually logged in and looked around.

And, indeed, there are some things they do that lift it to a whole other level, and it isn't very much at all like Ryze, LinkedIn, Orkut, Xing or Viadeo. The first thing is that you get a feed of what changes about any of your friends. The second is that there's a whole lot of things to do, so there's a lot to see in that feed. And, thirdly, they have what they call applications. It means they've made an API that allows third parties to add modules to their hearts content, to add new functionality, which is nicely integrated with the rest of the site.

Those extra modules make me do some things I otherwise wouldn't bother doing, like rating books I've read recently, because the fact that it is shared with my friends list makes it somewhat more meaningful. None of it is particularly important stuff, but it hooks into the same principles that makes twitter or jaiku interesting. It gives me a continuous ambient awareness of what's going on within one's sphere of friends. There's a swarm kind of thing going on, where I'll catch if a bunch of others suddenly get interesting in a particular subject or a particular application or a particular group. And it does that for me with fairly minimal investment of time, as all I do is to update a few profile type of settings here and there, and I watch one stream of small updates from others I know.

So, this does point at something that's new and interesting, a new type of social interaction, and a trend for the future. But, like the other social networking sites, Facebook is an island. You don't really plug into it unless you're a member. And what if there are several places like that, and I'll had to choose. It is only going to be more permanently useful if there are open standards, and it doesn't matter which particular system I plug into. I'm interested in sharing information with my friends, but I could care less about keeping track of a list of separate websites one can network at. They would have to become more invisible.

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18 Jun 2007 @ 09:04 by jazzolog : No Man Is A Peninsula
Looking for a social network of people who'd see both John Donne and Jefferson Airplane sourced in my subject, NewCiv still fills the bill. I'm glad you're out there thinking on and exploring sites and ideas of connection and even community. Swarming is a start...or continuation. I've thought of a lot of these sites as opportunities for younger people and singles to develop contacts, but recently I got an invitation I couldn't refuse to get into MySpace...and was surprised to see a bunch of duffers are members. I like the platform for blogging in there so I mounted a few things...but mostly MySpace just takes too much time to get all the bells and whistles up and running. As we've discussed before, the balance between computer time and life going on all around me is vital. Statistics I've seen reveal in the States, 85% of teenagers are spending up to 7 hours a day on computers. Now let's see, if they spend 7 hours at school and 7 hours sleeping...hmmmm. NewCiv continues most convenient because options are simple and you're in an international setting. And most features don't take an hour to load for dialup. Any of that stuff going on out there that you'd like to bring in here would be interesting though.  

18 Jun 2007 @ 17:47 by Adam Kovitz @ : Relationship Networking as an Industry?
Despite the uphill battle of progress, we are seeing overwhelming evidence that there is a movement, albeit, a scattered one. Fortunately, there is a newly-forming, neutral third-party, non-profit organization that is looking to change this. I am happy to be associated with the Relationship Networking Industry Association (RNIA), which aims to make networking convergence a reality. This will be done by gathering consensus of seven major communities of stakeholders: corporations, entrepreneurs & investors, consultants & trainers, recruiting firms, member-based organizations, educational institutions and governmental agencies. Through consensus, a common body of knowledge (CBOK) will be developed, from which the first standards will be introduced. From those standards, the RNIA will establish a certification process for acquiring minimum basic skills, ongoing education, technologists and educators. Expect to hear more about this new organization as companies like SoSsoon, eFirm and BNI are among the initial supporters. Every uphill battle can be fought one step at a time.  

20 Jun 2007 @ 02:41 by Roland Tanglao @ : yeah it's a proprietary island
which will be blown up by open social networking some day ..until then i'll keep using it for chit chat and that is all (or at least if it's not chit chat, i'll make sure i am ok with them taking it down arbitrarily)  

20 Jun 2007 @ 07:09 by FreedomBuilder @ : Open freaking Source
So, Flemming, when the heck do we get whatever-it-is that we need to own our profiles, and blogs, and other ambient activities ourselves, on our OWN devices (like my own pc or pda etc) that peer-to-peer, MESH-network-like pings the web-at-large and I'm not dependent on ANY of these others' companies-dependent centralised databases for my personal networking, etc, etc.,????


20 Jun 2007 @ 23:51 by ming : Connected islands
Jazzolog, actually exploring some of those things out there makes it cribble in my fingers to connect some of it together, and also to connect it in with NewCiv. But experience has made my wise enough to not just jump directly into it, as it usually takes a lot longer than I expect. But, in principle, it would be relatively simple to bring in some new functionalities. Like, some of what's going on out there is these applications where one posts one's current status or quick messages, micro-blogging, and they have simple interfaces, so I could possibly add them to this blogging platform.  

20 Jun 2007 @ 23:55 by ming : Open
In a way these various sites give us the opportunity to realize something new that we like or need. But nobody really wants it to be proprietary islands, other than those who have stock in them. So it is inevitable that the next steps will be to figure out how to get the same kind of stuff in an open inter-connected way. That might come from open source versions of the same thing, or from some company finding a niche in using open protocols, which then allow others to knit things together. Or, yes, it isn't altogether impossible that somebody, like a non-profit organization, might persuade most of the major players that it would be better for everybody to be inter-connectable from the get-go. Electricity is much easier to deal with if we use the same plugs.  

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Other stories in
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