Here is a collection of my own thoughts from posts and comments around the blogosphere.
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There definitely is a bubble in social media. This is a classic example of a bubble: no-one wants to get left behind so bidding on property escalates. Given that Facebook reported 21 million users in August 2007, a book worth of $15Bn values each user at $714. That means that the company will have to generate $714 of revenue per user to realize its net worth. I guess the jury’s still out on whether that’s going to happen!
Original post May 23, 2008 3:12 PM GMT
The concept of “friends” on a social network (SN) is different to the concept of real-life friends. For one thing, we expect in-person interaction with real-life friends, at least to a degree unlikely or not possible with SN friends. For another, our emotional commitment to real-life friends may be more than it would be to SN friends we’d never met (or meet).
Yes, there is some overlap. Some of our SN friends will be real-life friends, but there’s no reason it has to be that way. To argue that a SN “cheapens” the concept of friendship is a gross oversimplification since it assumes a monolithic, one dimensional definition of friendship. Without descending into a semantic debate, it is clear that the burgeoning of online relationships through social networks will necessitate redefining what friendship means. Now that’s going to be complicated!
Original post May 23rd, 2008 @ 5:40am
Twitter needs to sort out this problem—fast. As more users begin to rely on Twitter for messaging, networking, etc. the impact of downtime will worsen. It went down yesterday just as I was doing a demo for a colleague. Certainly if Twitter wants to leverage commercial business, reliability is a must.
Original post May 22, 2008 5:03 AM
One of the important nuances often missing from discussions such as these is what can is rightfully considered private data and what is not.
I consider my social security number off limits to Facebook but not to my bank. My medical information is off limits to all except my doctor and possibly insurance company.
The point is that there is a continuum of privacy related to our data. Who we share with is predicated by where on the continuum that data lies. Until we better understand how to rank or categorize data on a scale of privacy, we have little hope of controlling or understanding what other entities do with it.
Some social network apps are beginning to address this issue by, for example, allowing the user to create various groups that can access only subsets of personal data. For example, I blogged recently about zLoop, a social networking application that allows users to create such groups.
Original post May 20th, 2008 @ 6:57am
So why is it important to recognize whether a social network is centralized or decentralized? And why is it important to recognize what the unspoken rules are regarding usage of such networks?
Regarding centralization, it seems to me such dichotomies are somewhat artificial. That is, we can recognize a continuum of sites where some are highly decentralized, others are centralized. It might be that to recognize the unspoken rules we need to understand the degree to which a social network is centralized.
A decentralized network such as Twitter is self-policing. If you put a lot of rubbish out there, people will just not follow you. So it’s important to put stuff out that people want. In that case, it does not matter whether or not it is self-promoting. For example, Jason Calcanis, one of the most followed Twitterers has a lot of self-promoting posts to Twitter.
In a centralized network, the policing is more top down, from the community. Wikipedia, not strictly a social network, is a good example. If rubbish is posted, it quickly gets removed. With social bookmarking, we expect that those users that excessively self-promote with content no-one wants will be quickly selected out by other users. The worst offenders may have their accounts removed.
In effect, as information increases exponentially, we will see less tolerance for mindless self-promotion. However, those self-promoters who provide what people need or are looking for are less likely to be penalized.
Original post May 20th, 2008 1:00 am