Monday, December 1, 2008

Aggregating Social Networks

Social networks.  There are a ton of them.  Personally, I use Facebook, have an old account on Myspace that I don’t use anymore because of the adds, an outdated profile on Linkedin and I’m on Twitter and delicious just to be on them.

When you are on multiple social networks, it takes up a lot of time trying to update each one. So lucky us, there are few new aggregating websites that attempt to tie all of your accounts together:

Loopster-this acts like an RSS feed for all your accounts

ProfileLinker-this is a single interface to all of your social networking accounts allows you to update your profile, pictures, feed etc., but you won’t receive other peoples updates acts as one central log in to all social networks.  You can post and receive information.   However, this site it has a lot of disclaimers about using your image for advertisement purposes.

Facebook Connect takes it one step further.  Facebook Connect allows members to log onto Facebook’s partner sites (Discovery Channel, Digg, Genealogy network Geni and Hulu) with their Facebook log in and see their Facebook friend’s activities on those sites. Obviously there are some privacy concerns here: 

Girlfriend to boyfriend: “Why are you watching ‘Arrested Development’ on Hulu when you told me you had to stay late at the office?”—And that’s a PG version of what I am sure will ensue. 

Friendfeed-this lets you get a feed of what your friends are sharing online, like news articles, pictures, videos etc.  Again, please look at my privacy concern above.   I can already imagine the fighting because partners are seeing what their other half actually do on the internet.

I personally have issues with these services.  For one thing, they’re trying to link personal identities, instead of documents, which is what Yahoo and Google and other search engines manage. Search engines do a decent job linking documents-but they are not able yet to pick up on the nuances of personal identities.  Heck, people can’t even pick up on the nuances of personal identities, and we’re the ones creating them! So to me, using a search engine algorithm to link personal identities is an impossible goal.

Secondly, all of these sites are trying to make a social medium into an advertising medium.  I think that advertising on social networking sites is for the most part invasive and unwelcome.  It would be like listening to a commercial every time you pick up your telephone. Social networks are simply a way for people to communicate-which is more similar to a telephone than to a television, or newspaper-which is how marketers are looking at it.

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