Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Fighting the read/write web-fatigue with interoperability

My problem with social software sites has long been my short attention span. I love to log-in - but not fully create my full profile as it is soo timeconsuming - I play around for some time to test and understand how some of the features work, and then I forget about it. Some random emails from even more random people wanting to make me their friend sometime remind me of the service. However, it's hard to go back as I can't even remember the password or which email I used to sign up.

This post, ..(cuz losing passwords is common amongst teens), really made me laugh about how teens use the Web. According to that teens would forget the password to enter to the social network service, and without any hesitation, they start a new profile, and email for that reason. I wonder if this is more the nature of teens than a new trend emerging among young users of Web?

Maybe teens just don't think the whole thing (i.e. social network sites) is that meaningful or worth saving. Or better, maybe they just really don't think about building a consistent profile of themselves, yet. Hell no, I would hate if all the stuff that I once did on the Web would be still available and indexed in Google! Everyone needs to start once in a while from scratch, cuz old habits stick (and stink)! But, maybe once those kids think that it's meaningful enough for them, and they will start remembering the passwords.

Or better, when they are old enough that they really care and want to keep all the digital pieces together, hopefully there are better ways to keep track of "yourself" than separate services with no portability of content that only rely on stupid passwords. There really should be better ways...

Anyway, the two points that I have seeing since I've opened my computer after vacations (yeah, I know how to log off) is Web-fatigue and portability of content, contacts and profile information in social networking sites, but I would really want to bring it to the whole field of social software.

Could 2007 be the year of social network fatigue? by ZDNet's Steve O'Hear --Another driving force for social networks in 07, will be the increasing
number of niche networks which are highly targeted to particular
interest groups or social activities. The question that still remains
however, is how many social networks any one user is likely to join and
remain active in? This is where Read/WriteWeb's prediction of fatigue
has more weight. 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.
Therefore I think it will be essential for social networks to open up, through embracing open standards which allow for greater interoperability between networks.

Hell yeah, that would be lovely! That's what I've been wanting for some time now, well, ever since I started using social bookmarking services. I really like Furl, I think it's far nicer service to use than delicious, which I only use occasionally, because of peer-pressure, everyone else is there - well, to leverage on the crowds. But I just don't like it, for reasons that I won't go in this post.

Nevertheless, what I would like, is that having the profile and bookmarks that I've accumulated in Fulr could be taken advantage of also in delicious. There should be some way of updating my profile at the same time in both services, or that the services would have some way to make a personalised federated search across the services - sort of meta search across social bookmarking sites that would

a) allow me to browse other similar people's profiles,

b) would make active matching of my bookmarks to others in each service and recommend me links. Moreover, there should be some

c) possibility also to tap on my networks and contacts throughout the services, like that my delicious network would be notified of my new bookmarks in Furl.

Of course, now there are ways to do all that, subscribe manually users from one place to another, etc, but it would take ages to do it, and I would never be up-to-date in any of the places, I reckon.

So, this is to say that it would be really important to work on different types of interoperability between social software services. There's been posts regarding portability of contacts information, but also just plain user profile stuff (why can't I still even upload my vCard??), portability of social bookmarks (I once checked how about importing my personal links from delicious and furl to a repository of learning resources and found out that not even the RDF or XML was standard), etc.

The current way of wanting to lock-in people to a social software/service that they've started investing in (I'm thinking of investing time, knowing/inviting people and friends, creating and enriching profile, etc) is ridiculous. Only us, say, 30-years and +, are silly enough to stick around in places where we've started building up our personal portfolio of digital artefacts. We escape behind excuses like "I'm too busy to start a new blog and transfer my blogroll", or "I've lost my password to my domain name server to change it to a new one".. We should start seriously asking the providers for these services, to give us better portability of our data, do more open standards based communication layers to enable federated searches across services, etc.

Voila! My wish for 2007 is better interoperability for social software! Or otherwise, I'll just start behaving like those teens ;)


Ton said...

There are indeed promising signs of social platforms opening up. PeopleAggregator is the one that is completely committed to open porting of information (e.g. I log into it using my Flickr id, and did not bother creating an own account). Other services are slowly moving up the same path, and luckily not in the way that Google does it which is just another lock-in scheme on a grander scale.

MAMK said...

Riina. I found your observations very insightful and I think you could use these insights for the basis of a conference paper. I would focus especially on the factors such as "short attention spans" of youth, and more specially what conditions are conducive to make the social-software based tools more "meaningful enough for them". Keep up the good work!