Social Networks, Raise Your Standards!

All that seems to be missing from this list, and for me, the biggest concern, is a standard for privacy. There doesn’t seem to be one, though we have all sorts of standards for logging-in and authentication. This is where a contender for the social-networking top-of-the-hill can enter. Using these (or other) standards, provide a platform to compete against the Facebook Platform (which I admit could be amazing if it wasn’t tied to such loose-lipped privacy policy). If done, what model should such a platform, this OpenFriendBook, operate on?

Why, the WordPress model of course. Offer two products: the application and the service. Provide hosting and data services for those who are too lazy/inexperienced/unwilling to set up their own instance of this OpenFriendBook while also providing the application for free to those who don’t mind doing their own maintenance.

Keep data private, but for those willing to participate, allow indexing and advertising services. Sell premium services, but let others produce free services and extensions without hinderance. Make money off of those who are willing, but maintain a strong fan base by sticking to the right to choose your own path instead of choosing it for your customers.

Ning failed because it was offering too much and was too resource-intensive without actually generating revenue. No other platform seems willing to take on Facebook directly, sticking to niches such as professional life, or media. MySpace is too ugly and losing people fast, and others are just more of the same.

We need a middle ground between the ability to share social information with one another without being encumbered by an individual’s personal design taste (this need not be the revival of the hot-pink-background Angelfire site), while still being able to retain privacy. True cultural change, in this case a radical shift in our information cultural, doesn’t happen because you shove it down peoples’ throats. True cultural change happens when individuals are presented with options and opportunities and make their own informed decisions. Facebook is taking the former route. Now we just need some snappy coders to help others take the latter. The tools are there. Who will pick them up?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Social Networks, Raise Your Standards!

  1. CJ

    How about using facebook to keep your ignoramus friends updated about the cool gadgets in the world?

    For example…there is a PSP mobile thing!
    I saw it at Sam’s Club the other day and had NO idea it existed and even though I don’t really care and will never get one, I still felt odd having no idea what it was.

    I blame you.

  2. Suzie

    Hey, Jonathan.

    (Trying to get this commenting thing down … this is Attempt 2).

    Thought-provoking post, as usual. Do you ever post links to this blog on your Twitter account? You should – it would be much easier for me to RT them.

    Anyway, you may have heard about this already, but if not, it’s kind of interesting:

    Diaspora Project: Building the Anti-Facebook:
    http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/diaspora_project_building_the_anti-facebook.php

  3. Hahaha, thanks Suzie. I was actually going to do a post about the Diaspora Project because the article popped up on RWW about two days after I wrote my blog post and I thought to update my readers.

    As for Twitter, my WP auto-announces to both Twitter and Facebook at the time of publishing 🙂