Showing posts with label web2.0. Show all posts
Showing posts with label web2.0. Show all posts

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dare Obasanjo on Open Social Networks

Dare writes on Open Social Networks. One thing he doesn't bring up, though, is the existence of specialized social networks and how they fit into the whole. He uses Flickr and YouTube as examples of sites that have good API's for getting and setting data, but part of the point of those is that they exist solely to allow users to push around specific types of content: images on Flickr, movies on YouTube. Facebook and MySpace have lots bigger fish in mind, wanting to take over your whole mindshare. It's an interesting evolution, isn't it? For a long time we talked about Microsoft and how they wanted to control everything on your desktop; then Google came along and we talked about how having everything in your browser was better than having everything in your desktop. Now it's not enough to have everything in the browser; we have to have it all on our social networking site. The one thing this really points out to me, though, is the fragility of these sites - for a while MySpace was the hot toy, but now it's Facebook. Is there any reason to think Facebook will be the place to be in six months or a year? I don't see one.

I learned via TechMeme, though, that Jeff Pulver is leaving LinkedIn for Facebook. I think it's a mistake, Jeff. LinkedIn is specialized; it exists for business contacts. It will probably be around in a couple of years, linking up business contacts. Facebook will probably be gone as people move on to the Next Big Thing.

To sum it up, it appears to me that the real evolution of social networking is going to be LinkedIn for business contacts; Flickr for pictures, LibraryThing for books, and then maybe a few small sites like Facebook and MySpace that aggregate all this data into a coherent whole for people who aren't interested in creating their own websites that aggregate all this data, or are nervous about being outside of the walled garden. But Facebook ain't the future. Don't expect it to be.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

B2B 2.0

Chris has left LibraryThing. I don't know him, but apparently he's done some really good work for one of my favorite Web 2.0 plays; a social site based around book collecting.

There are lots of definitions of Web 2.0, but at least one of the principles that seems to define it is "Online Community". Flickr, YouTube, Yahoo! Answers. Online communities have been around since the beginning, of course, at first through mailing lists and NNTP servers, later through applications and, eventually, web sites. When we at Sunstorm were working on a version of Deer Hunter that was going to have a multiplayer mode - we had only the vaguest idea how that might work - I went to a seminar at the Game Developer's Conference on the topic of building online communities. We did a little work towards it; our web site ran some decent forum software, but in 1998 the Deer Hunter target market did not actually overlap with people who spent a lot of time online, which was hampering.

At least we had a good size target market. Combine the lush outdoor scenery of Deer Hunter 3 with a visionary concept of online communication, and we might have had our own version of Second Life on our hands, five years before anyone else. But of course, we didn't have the vision thing. It's still the hardest part of launching a consumer oriented web site. Wal-Mart tried it. Xanga was hip for a while. Not much there there, now.

But what about an online community as part of a B2B play? Not a corporate MySpace, but a self-selecting group made up of users of your product. If your target is geeks you might have a leg up here; Kinook has a nice online forum. Axosoft has forums and bloggers. The forum we put up at Interactive Intelligence seems to be buzzing along nicely. When I was there the customer base was very technical; that may be less so as their customer base has grown. But I think an actual, product-based online community is very workable for a business-to-business company. More later.