Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Monday, April 04, 2005

The Blog Is The Social Network

Over the past year we have seen a variety of Social Networking Services come and go: Orkut, Friendster, SecondLife, LinkedIn, and most recently Yahoo 360, and it too shall pass.

And yet throughout all of this, people have been communicating and forming communities and social networks, but not through Social Networking Services. People are leaving comments on each other's blogs; they've been back-and-forthing it between each other's blogs; and yes they turn to email for private discussions when necessary. A lot of social activity is going on, and it's not on the SNS's.

It's on blogs. The blog is the social network.

And why is this? Orkut, LinkedIn, Yahoo 360 -- these are all walled gardens. They provide value only to people within the walls. And even worse, chances are that the garden will stagnate and die -- when an SNS is terminated, nobody will benefit from the pearls of wisdom that you imparted.

Blogs (and let's not forget Usenet groups) are accessible to all. You don't need to sign up to participate in a discussion going on in a blog (well, some blogs enforce registration, to their detriment). Most people like helping other people, and we don't like our contributions to be locked up behind the walls of a registration-only service. We want our contributions to be available to the world.

Repeat the Web 2.0 mantra: small pieces, loosely joined.

3 Comments:

  • This is an interesting post Jon. I was going to comment but I ended up writing a post myself and linking to you.

    By Blogger Leon, at 4/06/2005 3:24 AM  

  • Amen to this.

    I enjoyed Orkut for a while, but eventually stopped using it. In fact, I stopped dead. When and why? I stopped precisely when I realized that the potentials for networking and online communities were too great for any part of it (or at least the underlying data) to be walled in as you put it.

    My hope is that more and more of the great online service providers will abandon the "walled garden" idea and open up their services. If anything (and I do believe there's a market for this), the Internet Companies (tm) might eventually specialize in simply offering jazzy was of displaying and organizing the data we have on the web (see Flickr, for an obvious example).

    Beyond that, I can imagine great possibilities for knowledge discovery apps emerging as time goes on. There is so much to be done here: Help us find out what types of people we tend to work well with; help us find the sites we'll get the most out of; help us learn and grow. The list goes on, really... these companies just need to figure out that those are the types of services we want (and, ultimately, how to make a sustainable business out of it).

    By Blogger Darren Torpey, at 4/13/2005 9:07 PM  

  • Well said! A couple of other interesting, open social networks are: Flickr (as you mentioned), and del.icio.us.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 4/13/2005 9:11 PM  

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