What Do You Really Want from a Social Network?

November 29th, 2007 19 Comments

Image from blog.davidairey.comEddie’s Oracle People Map got me thinking about what I like about social networks and why some are more valuable to me than others. Data visualization is cool, and seeing where people are geographically is a trip.

I had coffee with Rick Turoczy, the Silicon Florist, today to talk about the tech scene in Portland, and to put flesh and blood with the zeros and ones. Rick found me over Twitter, not sure how, and his tweets about our coffee meeting immediately brought me six new followers, all Portlanders. Pretty cool network effect.

Over the last few months, I’ve warmed up to Twitter, and we used it pretty successfully at OpenWorld. Twitter is as much social network as it is communication (sorry, “micro-blogging”) mechanism, which is why I like it. You can be as active or passive as you want and still reap the benefits of the network.

Over the past few years, I’ve progressed from LinkedIn to Facebook to Twitter as my primary network. Oh yeah, and now <plug>Mix</plug>. The question is why.

LinkedIn
What I initially liked about LinkedIn is what eventually caused me to stop using it proactively. By that I mean, I’m basically in maintenance mode; if someone adds me, I accept, but I don’t search for people or add very many anymore. LinkedIn is a great Rolodex, and it’s a pretty good resume tool. It’s not that interesting, though, so aside from the collector in me, I have no reason to build that network. The only interesting piece of LinkedIn is reading people’s resumes. I know LinkedIn has added more features, but eh, I’m over it for now.

Facebook
Facebook is interesting. I rebuilt my network, and the News Feed helped me grow it. The News Feed helped me find applications, and it got cooler as I added more friends. Until one day, I just stopped caring, and this was before they release Project Bacn. I have too many applications, none of which is very useful. I have so many friends that my News Feed is cluttered, and I’m too lazy to throttle the settings. Oh, and the ads and spam have gotten worse.

IMHO Facebook hasn’t delivered on its potential yet. They don’t offer enough syndication or an API to get data out, so I’m always refreshing their slow site. Consequently, I don’t always catch useful stuff because it’s mixed in with a lot of zombie bites and other noise. Sorry if you’re mad that I ignored your request to bite me, update my mood (assume it’s bad) or add Fun Wall. I do like Facebook’s communication, i.e. wall and inbox, but that’s about it lately.

Plus, I know I’m not the only one who wants to know why Facebook is so damn slow. Seriously, spend some of that cash on power, ping and pipe already.

I’m not giving up on Facebook. I still like it better than LinkedIn, but it’s no longer my primary network.

Twitter
Twitter is. Twitter suffers from an image problem (i.e. it’s perceived as trivial), and you really don’t see benefit unless you follow the right people. The good news is that you can find people much more easily now than a few months ago. Adding search was huge.

So, what’s the big deal? For one, Twitter constrains you to 140 characters, so you don’t get all long-winded, like some people do in blogs (d’oh). Twitter also builds Tiny URLs to allow links in tweets. This is huge because now I can get what is essentially a live RSS feed from my network, complete with commentary.

Twitter adds a human element too by asking “What are you doing?”. Several people I know only virtually have tweeted about family deaths and bad news, and their followers, including me, have expressed sympathy over Twitter.

But as I said before, participation is optional. You can lurk all you want and just read the links that bloggers like Scoble, Jeremiah, James Governor, Dennis, Eddie and others throw out onto Twitter. Plus, bonus feature: the Twitter API allows third party tools to build apps or add-ons that make it super easy to follow your network, unlike the walled garden that is Facebook (and LinkedIn).

twfox.pngI follow using the TwitterFox add-on for Firefox, which has a little unread icon on the footer bar. It pops open a small, optional window when new tweets arrive, and the new version has tabs and color-coding for my tweets, replies @ me and direct messages. Its text entry window counts the characters as I type, and it suggests when I type a reply, i.e. @someone. All very cool and totally easy. I don’t have to go to Twitter ever, unless I want to follow new people.

There are tons of Twitter tools though, for any and all operating systems and browsers.

Yeah, there’s spam. I have seven silversurfers, a spiderman and a MittRomney following me. Sounds like the 12 days of Christmas. I try to follow everyone who follows me, but if that’s not your style, you can always block or stop following transparently. Easy break-up, no mess.

So, what’s my conclusion? I guess I want interesting features in just the right amount from the network. I want the network to entertain and inform me, with minimal effort.

If you agree, check out Twitter, and expect these types of features in Mix as I push Rich and Anthony to Twitterify it.


Possibly Related Posts

19 Responses to “What Do You Really Want from a Social Network?”

  1. Rich Manalang - FriendFeed Says:

    postedWhat Do You Really Want from a Social Network?on Oracle AppsLab

  2. Eddie Awad’s Blog Says:

    , the largest independent Oracle User Group Conference taking place the first week of December. Pat Shuff of Pat Shuff’s Blog describes in length the process that he followed to learn OracleVM. Jake Kuramoto of the Oracle AppsLab asks:what do you really want from a social network?. For Jake, LinkedIn is not interesting. Facebook is interesting but it’s no longer his primary network. He likes Twitter, but says that it suffers from an image problem. He wants a network to entertain and inform him, with minimal effort.

  3. Ron Says:

    Interesting post. I get informed about new events on my non active profiles through my 8hands which provides notifications to the desktop.
    Since I’ve installed it, I nearly never check my Myspace of Facebook profiles, cause I’m sick of them both. I get all the info I need without really logging in. If there’s something surprisingly interesting, only then I will visit those sites.

  4. Ron Says:

    Interesting post. I get informed about new events on my non active profiles through my 8hands which provides notifications to the desktop.
    Since I’ve installed it, I nearly never check my Myspace of Facebook profiles, cause I’m sick of them both. I get all the info I need without really logging in. If there’s something surprisingly interesting, only then I will visit those sites.

  5. Matt Topper Says:

    What I want is to add location to a social network (like mix) where I can find people with the same skills sets / interests as me. I’m a mobile guy consulting around the US. It would be great to go into a town and have 4-5 other Oracle people interested in IdM that I could ping for dinner or lunch to talk about war stories and best practices. Yes the whore consultants will abuse it for more work, but I’m sure we can quickly get them on an ignore list. Thats something I’ve talked about for years but never had the time to build a whole network around. That would be my first app I’d extend into the mix ;-).

  6. Matt Topper Says:

    What I want is to add location to a social network (like mix) where I can find people with the same skills sets / interests as me. I’m a mobile guy consulting around the US. It would be great to go into a town and have 4-5 other Oracle people interested in IdM that I could ping for dinner or lunch to talk about war stories and best practices. Yes the whore consultants will abuse it for more work, but I’m sure we can quickly get them on an ignore list. Thats something I’ve talked about for years but never had the time to build a whole network around. That would be my first app I’d extend into the mix ;-).

  7. Jake Says:

    Topper: I like geolocation as part of a network too, which is why Eddie’s map is interesting. We talked to Oracle Spatial about adding some mapping stuff to Connect, but nothing came of it. Having a combo of Twitter (what are you doing) plus geolocation (where are you) would be sweet. Oh, and probably useful too.

    Add an idea and see if it gets any traction.

  8. Jake Says:

    Topper: I like geolocation as part of a network too, which is why Eddie’s map is interesting. We talked to Oracle Spatial about adding some mapping stuff to Connect, but nothing came of it. Having a combo of Twitter (what are you doing) plus geolocation (where are you) would be sweet. Oh, and probably useful too.

    Add an idea and see if it gets any traction.

  9. Rick Turoczy Says:

    First off, thanks for the mention. Much appreciated. ;)

    As far as finding Jake on Twitter goes, I used Matt King’s Twitterwhere app. It lets you listen in on a particular geographic region of Twitter folk. While it doesn’t provide the topical filtering that some of the other commenters here are requesting, I’ve found it a valuable place to start.

    The topic-by-location request is one that I hear quite often. There are tools like Twitterverse which provide topics globally, by popularity, and tools like Twitterwhere. But I have yet to find a combo of the two.

    I’m sure someone could build it off the Twitter api. Unfortunately, that someone is not me.

  10. Rick Turoczy Says:

    First off, thanks for the mention. Much appreciated. ;)

    As far as finding Jake on Twitter goes, I used Matt King’s Twitterwhere app. It lets you listen in on a particular geographic region of Twitter folk. While it doesn’t provide the topical filtering that some of the other commenters here are requesting, I’ve found it a valuable place to start.

    The topic-by-location request is one that I hear quite often. There are tools like Twitterverse which provide topics globally, by popularity, and tools like Twitterwhere. But I have yet to find a combo of the two.

    I’m sure someone could build it off the Twitter api. Unfortunately, that someone is not me.

  11. Jake Says:

    To add to Rick’s tools, I use David Sterry’s Tweet Scan. It indexes all public tweets and has an OpenSearch plugin to boot.

    Jeremiah, a Twitter fiend, has a list of ways he uses Twitter.
    http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/11/29/how-i-use-twitter-and-you/

  12. Jake Says:

    To add to Rick’s tools, I use David Sterry’s Tweet Scan. It indexes all public tweets and has an OpenSearch plugin to boot.

    Jeremiah, a Twitter fiend, has a list of ways he uses Twitter.
    http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/11/29/how-i-use-twitter-and-you/

  13. Matt Topper Says:

    I’d post the idea, but I still need to get my domain added to that mix thing you guys keep talking about ;-)

  14. Matt Topper Says:

    I’d post the idea, but I still need to get my domain added to that mix thing you guys keep talking about ;-)

  15. Jake Says:

    @Topper: We’re working on it. Welcome to the endless feedback loop.

  16. Jake Says:

    @Topper: We’re working on it. Welcome to the endless feedback loop.

  17. Laurent Says:

    Same way than you with social networking tools : LinkedIn for yeatrs, then Facebook, then Twitter…recently Oracle Mix (but i still haven’t lots of activity on the site). So totally agree with you, same use for me.

    I have been working on a personal project (a game) developed with RoR, including social features (stay tuned, it will be released as beta before end of december ’07): GMap, twitter , friendship, messaging, chatting are in the plan.

  18. Laurent Says:

    Same way than you with social networking tools : LinkedIn for yeatrs, then Facebook, then Twitter…recently Oracle Mix (but i still haven’t lots of activity on the site). So totally agree with you, same use for me.

    I have been working on a personal project (a game) developed with RoR, including social features (stay tuned, it will be released as beta before end of december ’07): GMap, twitter , friendship, messaging, chatting are in the plan.

  19. Readtwit May Reenergize Twitter for Me | Oracle Says:

    […] of the most valuable aspects of Twitter for me has always been finding, sharing and discussing information in the form […]

Leave a Reply