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Social cloud and the blue pill

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A great presentation by Kevin Marks on social cloud. The cloud is an abstraction that we create of the net. It is the perception of the network, the internet, by people who no longer see or need to think of all the piping and wires. Those are in the background, invisible to most of us.

There are several important points that Kevin makes but here’s a taster.

The younger generation doesn’t see the cloud, it experiences it as oxygen supporting their digital lives. The older generation sees this as a poisonous gas that has leaked out of their pipes, and they want to seal it up again.

Another important bit is the one about our brains and minds being the best social networking tools. Software cannot match out ability to sort out our friends and contact, establish how much we trust them and how we arrive at that trust. No software can fully map the relationships, let alone replace our natural ability to create and maintain them The implication is that therefore software should support the kind of cloud abstraction we have around the internet, also around our social relationships. You can feed it (the social networking app) relationships that are in the ’software in your head’, feed the stuff related to people in your network to software online. Users will assume that your software (this is aimed at developers) will be able to see the information that they have already fed into the software and be able to use it. (Please watch the whole thing as I hardly did full justice to Kevin’s talk.)

This skirts the edges of what I see in VRM – tools and software enabling me to take charge of my relationships by helping me with the data around them, their capture and manipulation. The cloud is abstraction of my relationships but before it recedes into the invisible strata I need to be able to breathe freely. The starting point is having healthy lungs and not having to worry about the tubes and the mechanics of breathing. And we are far from that.

matrix04_hooked.jpg At the moment, we are all connected to the matrix, with tubes still being more important than our freedom to move. The many silo-like platforms try to keep us hooked and locked in, whilst giving us enough delusion of capabilities. Alas, there is only so many times you can (super)poke or zombie someone before you start wondering what’s the point.

The point is I want to be able to hook or unhook myself at will. I want to be able to connect and create relationships without lock-ins (other than the ones that relationships bring with them naturally :-) ). I don’t believe I will be able to do that unless the tools are built around me, for me and eventually by me. Blogging took off when people could set up a page and start publishing in a way previously available only to geeks with html skillz. Today I can do more things with my blog than just publish – tag, add videos, plug-in more functionality etc. with the underlying technology is invisible to me now.

I want tools and applications that will help me do that with my relationships (as social network platforms are rather inadequate for my purposes) and ultimately transactions.

One of the fundamental building blocks of VRM is the ability of individual users to take charge of their data instead of managing them via a platform and ‘trading’ that data for the functionality that the platform might provide. Once I have it in my hands, I can manage, analyse and whatever else I wish to do with them, applying various functionality directly. And share and interact with others in ways richer than platforms currently allow. It might be messier to start with but closer to human affairs in its complexity. And that is a Good Thing.

Apologies to Kevin for hijacking the cloud imagery. :)

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3 Responses to “Social cloud and the blue pill”


  1. VRM Hub » Whose data is it anyway?
    on Sep 13th, 2008
    @ 23:10 pm

    [...] permissions and access management nightmares in the process. In the words of Kevin Marks as paraphrased from his Social Cloud talk at Lift08: Software cannot match out ability to sort out our friends and [...]


  2. The Mine! project » Truly social software?
    on Sep 15th, 2008
    @ 20:10 pm

    [...] am not able to reflect relationships I already have. The best social software is not online, it is loaded on to my cortex. And no software can fully map the relationships, let alone replace our natural ability to create [...]


  3. VRM Hub » Truly social software?
    on Sep 15th, 2008
    @ 21:24 pm

    [...] am not able to reflect relationships I already have. The best social software is not online, it is loaded on to my cortex. And no software can fully map the relationships, let alone replace our natural ability to create [...]

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