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What’s the real value of social software in enterprise

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Earlier today I spent several invigorating hours talking to two analysts, one of them is a good friend, who are gathering material for a case study on social software and collaboration and were interested in my approach and experience of introducing corporations to the world of social web/media/software. In a nutshell it is ‘technology comes after or behind people’ and I find the tools only as interesting as their functionality and usability helps people do whatever they need to do.

Social software has an added dimension, which is that it should not be handled or implemented by IT departments or even marketing or HR departments, and certainly not in a traditionally organised and run enterprise. So I wasn’t sure whether I could offer what they are looking for.

Interesting and worthwhile knowledge emerged from the discussion but I am yet to be convinced about it lending itself to case study format and whether it has any meaning within the current metrics requirements.

Here is an example: I described the ‘implementation’ of a wiki used by the staff in a team of about 40 people. The wiki has been set up for sharing of work priorities on a weekly basis, to notify others about absence from the office, projects, holidays, announcements. It was originally set up for one specific purpose – to save several hours a week for the person collating information into an email that became obsolete almost the moment it was dispatched to everyone.

Very quickly more information and functions were added as their usefulness became apparent. It would be fair to say that the wiki has turned, gradually and without much ado into a kind of team intranet. It has been ticking over in the background with the users driving and looking after it. Not the IT department which has had zero involvement.

Now what about the value of the wiki? The current metrics allow for a straightforward calculations based on time saved for the one person and then distributed across more people who now have contribute to the wiki. Not a huge deal really and the time saving alone would most likely not warranty the introduction of the wiki, if that’s how its implementation had been approached it.

The value of correct and better class of information, timely and updated as needed, adjustments to the type of information recorded, the focus the wiki brought to the department, the better communication seems always lost in such calculations. There are, after all, no metrics for it. However, true metrics zealots would deny there is value in the above and these are direct outcomes of the tool.

But what about the indirect ones? They are the most valuable aspects of the wiki’s impact but they cannot be tied in any measurable way to it.

1. The autonomy employees experience when driving not only the content but also the structure of a collaborative working place. The sense of ownership and ability to have impact – social software tools are almost exclusively under the control of the individual as they are build around the user (the good ones anyway) and this brings an unheard of degree of user-centricity to inflexible process-driven environments.

2. The first hand knowledge of the tool, the experience of its capabilities and limitations. The value there is those same employees will introduce the wiki they use regularly in one areas of work into other areas and projects. I’d argue that this is the most significant and long-term value of social media and social software tools at this stage of their use in enterprise. If anyone tells me they can put metrics on that, I’ll just call them a consultant (not a nice thing in my book!).

In short, the current metrics and the way we approach measurement of value in enterprise is deeply flawed and inadequate. The answer is to look at alternatives measures of value that we can’t see it for the metrics right now.

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. :)

The long tail of production

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This is very cool, especially being able to see how it was made:

Technology doesn’t create amazing things like this, people do. Technology helps people to do that and maximises the chances of new and better technology. And more amazing things being created.

What’s new is that the new camera/apps are steadily coming becoming like a word processor — both pros and amateurs use the same one. The great script is not due to a better word processor; it’s how the great write uses it. Likewise, a great film is not due to better gear. The same gear needed to make a good film is today generally available to amateurs — which was not so even a decade ago. Film making gear is approaching a convergence between professional and amateur, so that what counts in artistry and inventiveness.

The long tail of production is the effect of technology being widely available and, in case of videos, making the physical limitations of video production (expensive equipment, video editing suites, studios etc) slowly dissolve just like the physical limitations of music stores were bypassed by online distribution of music, books and films. On the production side, it means that more people can produce and the story is in watching what kind of things they will make.

The curse of the platform or advertising is not a business model

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I must agree with Alec’s post Twitter Business Models / Calacanis is Bonkers? where he calls Calacanis barking mad crazy for talking about in feed advertising and SMS advertising for Twitter. I am surprised that in this day and age anyone would consider advertising a long term, or even medium term, way of making money online. I can only hope that Hugh was being deeply sarcastic.

Sayz Alec:

At best they may maintain some control over their half-life – how long it will take to lose half of their users, and then half of what remains – but decay is inevitable and will be rapid. Maybe they could milk some cash out of it on the way down, whilst they are pissing-off their userbase? Not a good plan for growth…

Indeed, especially as Calacanis believes in scale and this underscores his recommendations to Twitter.

It’s about scale. When you’re playing in the big leagues with unlimited access to capital you shouldn’t worry about revenue BEFORE you have critical mass.

Here is industrial age thinking translated into online environment. And true enough, to the extent that the mindset still rules our behaviour online. But there may be another way, in the ‘channel world’ scale is in aggregation. In the networked world, scale is in distribution. That is why people from the former build platforms, people from the latter build applications that help distribution. It is not platforms that are bringing the media industry to its business model knees but P2P-eed teenagers, networked bloggers and applications that increase the individual’s ability to produce, share and distribute.

The curse of the platform is that although it may initially bring users value, as time goes on it is hard to sustain, let alone make money as the cognitive dissonance about who your real customers are increases with time. At the start, when building a platform, the platform owners consider themselves, or at least behave as if, serving the users. But the moment they decide to start placing adverts or otherwise ‘monetise the eyeballs’, their real customers are the advertisers. There’s not many of them wot gets it:

Craigslist had been approached about placing text ads on the site. “We’ve had the numbers crunched for us,” he said. “The numbers are quite staggering.” But, no, the site wasn’t interested. “No users have been requesting that we run text ads, so for us, that’s the end of the story,” he said to the befuddlement of the crowd. “If users start calling out for text ads, we’ll listen.”

Another unspoken question presents itself – Is making x gazillion $$$ within a finite amount of time a business model? Or is an exit strategy with $$$ in the bank a business model? Both are certainly a way of making money but a business model is something more fundamental. It is about creating a way to create value, to maintain and grow it. The aims is to make enough money to keep doing just that. I don’t see much of that in Web 1.0/2.0. But I may be old-fashioned like that.

799px-sydney_opera_house_in_sand.JPG One of the statements that made my heart leap last year is: Advertising is a form of censorship. The Web of 2007 is a house built upon sand. But more about that later…

Power to the Persons!

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The real sense of achievement is from not mentioning Web 2.0 or social media even once!


Here is version 1.0, may need to revise bits of it later – first time attempt at screencasting, new software and not used to Apple, blah blah blah…. :)

OpenSocial – more social than open

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So, been watching all that excitement about Google’s OpenSocial and I couldn’t hear over all that cheering how much do I get to ‘own my data’ and take it with me until I read Tim O’Reilly’s post OpenSocial: It’s the data, stupid:

My disappointment with OpenSocial was crystallized by an exchange between Patrick Chanezon, Google’s developer advocate for the program, and an audience member at the OpenSocial session at Web 2.0 Expo Berlin. The audience member asked something about building applications that can remix data from the participating social networking platforms. Patrick’s answer was along the lines of: “No, you only have access to the data of the individual platform or application.”

That is rather disappointing. I do not just want social network aggregators. As a user I want to take my information, profile, contacts and context with me wherever I want and can. If I am to invest my time into creating profiles and gathering contacts (thus making my friends to invest theirs), then spending time building context, which is actually more important than data. Data has become a commodity, it can be replicated and distributed without the physical constraints data faces offline. What is now rare is context because that still a) has to be created by humans and b) is not machine readable. So to elaborate on Tim O’Reilly’s

…two key principles of Web 2.0:

* It’s the data, stupid. (Formerly “Data is the Intel Inside”)
* Small pieces loosely joined.

…a principle of social web

* It’s the context (and control over it), stupid.

If all OpenSocial does is allow developers to port their applications more easily from one social network to another, that’s a big win for the developer, as they get to shop their application to users of every participating social network. But it provides little incremental value to the user, the real target. We don’t want to have the same application on multiple social networks. We want applications that can use data from multiple social networks.

Such applications would have to be based and designed around the user, not another platform and its growth and maintenance. Which is what every social network to date has been. And if you design for the individual, the distributed is definitely the way (see Small pieces loosely joined). At a VRM meeting in London last Friday, among other things, how to design an architecture around increasing control over our data. Alec summed it up:

…should we consider making a VRM pilot and simplify our lives by making the assumption that the database would be wholly centralised; the answer to that was an emphatic NO; the reason being that working from a perspective of “the data is centralised in a fortress” will lead to thinking that will never be able to accommodate a distributed architecture; whereas there is nothing to prevent an architecture which is capable of distribution in a wholly or partly centralised matter, as a convenience. In short: the web-browser would never have been invented had someone elected to ignore the distributed nature of the Web; instead, they would have merely yet again reinvented the file-browser. So: DESIGN IT DISTRIBUTED, TEST IT DISTRIBUTED, BUT IMPLEMENT IT HOWEVER YOU CHOOSE.

That’s the spirit. But Tim O’Reilly asks the crucial question:

Would OpenSocial let developers build a personal CRM system, a console where I could manage my social network, exporting friends lists to various social networks?

No, it doesn’t look like OpenSocial will, but VRM is predicated on that. Set the data (and their owners) free!

Customers are not ‘brand accessories’

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It seems that the Big Apple-in-the-Sky is punishing its acolytes users for daring to change the pre-ordained Order of Things.

Thursday afternoon, Apple released the scheduled update to the iPhone software. And the gadget blogs confirm that it does, as Apple threatened, wreak havoc on modified iPhones. Some phones have indeed been “bricked.” In others, unofficial applications have been disabled. And there are worries that hacking the updated phone will be harder.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate all things Microsoft with a passion.. Well, not all, there is one social object associated with them that is unobjectionable. :) But neither I am an Apple fan. I own an iPod that I got as a gift, and a nice one it was. I thought iPhone was great news for everyone because it is the ‘web’ people doing phone, as opposed to telecoms people, and showing what can be done. I have been thinking about about MacBook but the Sony Vaio although perhaps inferior in other respects is still a lot lighter. I do appreciate Apple’s design superiority and functionality. But I don’t want to be locked-in and treated as an accessory to a brand. Which is what Apple has been doing with their customers.

On Monday, Apple had issued a press release warning of “irreparable damage” to iPhones that have been modified or unlocked from the AT&T network. It also threatened users that “the permanent inability to use an iPhone due to installing unlocking software is not covered under the iPhone’s warranty.”

Of course, the small print is clear. The users knew very well that they are not supposed to unlock their AT&T-possessed iPhones and install programmes on it. But users do what users will. They try to improve the usability of their gadgets, toys and business devices. No amount of functionality will be able to match usability as defined by me, the user.

Since the iPhone is a very sleek, capable handheld computer, people are going to want to run programs on it. They are going to want to hack and see what they can build. It’s a law of nature. And Apple might as well be fighting gravity.

Many other cell phones are locked down, of course. But few other phones capture the imagination of programmers the way the iPhone does.

Nokia’s approach with the N800 internet tablet stands in stark contrast to Apple’s strategy. The operation system is based on Linux and a complete developer kit is freely downloadable. It has extensive documentation and a community around it. Its designed is not as refined and it certainly requires a fair amount of configuration. But that’s precisely my point. You can configure it any way you want. And you can “hack root” on it, which does turn some people on, if not others.

Apple’s propensity for control and closeness is well documented. It also seems to be accepted by its fans and evangelists.


When the price of iPhone was cut by $200 people interpreted it as broadening its appeal to the mainstream. It worked apparently, the sales trebled. But it’s not just the Apple aficionados that will need to be appeased and controlled. One could argue that Apple’s brand is so strong that it can withstand such expansion. Nevertheless, once a business has to fight its own customers and users, something has gone horribly wrong. Just look at the music industry…

Bonus link: iPhone Wars… May the unlock be with you!

Update: Gizmodo does a damning summary of Hacked and Official version of iPhone. Via Hugh.

Update II: Class-Action Lawsuit Over iPhone Locking?

Confusing Free with free

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Simon Phipps explains – for the thousandth time I imagine – some basic things about Free/Open source software.

From what the blog says – “Yes, clearly it’s cheaper, but does it really save money in the end?” – it’s clear this part of Adobe thinks of Free/Open Source software purely as a commodity and a way of cutting corners. That it’s ultimately only about saving money. They seem to confuse Free with free, liberty with payment. In the process Adobe is missing a huge opportunity.

Alas, outside the open source communities, this is not being explained/understood widely enough. So thanks to Simon for delving deeper:

As Stallman points out, software freedom is not about avoiding payment, it is about preserving and exercising liberty. I don’t accept that pursuing profit and respecting software freedom are unrelated, much less that they run counter to each other. Profit and liberty are not orthogonal. I also profoundly believe that competing against software freedom provides (at best) a short-term advantage.

And now he’s talking my language:

For a company like Adobe, to compete against software freedom is to ignore the inexorable progress of disruptive technologies and the Innovator’s Dilemma.

One of the challenges that open source faces is that its most significant and enduring impact is at the level that most businesses don’t pay attention to. The level of innovation that goes beyond the product, market or industry analysis usually based on controllable and measurable variables and the bigger-picture-doesn’t-get-me-through-the-next-quarter kind of thinking. A classic case of what doesn’t get measured, gets ignored. And misunderstood. So often Free/Open source software is seen as a comparable alternative to proprietary applications and the comparisons are made in terms of the wrong dichotomy, as Simon points out.

But the point is, the dichotomy Adobe paints is of its own making. It is not inherent in either Free software or in the open source communities which create it. And by trying to protect their short-term revenue, Adobe avoid affinity with some high-energy developers while pushing their customer base to increasingly attractive Free – and free – alternatives.

In fact, they are not comparable as you simply cannot compare the dynamics of community behind Free/Open source to the arbitrary, insulated and often turgid development of ‘closed source’ software. If the internet has shown anything it is that open is better, faster and ultimately more powerful. The principles that apply here:

the hand of Doc

IOS Brussels

No one owns it.

Everyone can use it.

Anyone can improve it.

These principles are so basic, they undermine all efforts to deny them.

Stealing the waves

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This is ridiculous:

Police officers arrested a man on suspicion of stealing a wireless broadband connection after spotting him using his laptop in the street.

The move is the latest example of police cracking down on a crime that did not exist several years ago when wireless internet access was relatively rare.

Using an open wifi is insecure and potentially dangerous enough without the police getting involved. This is user beware kind of thing and it really doesn’t help to have governments creating laws to that effect. They are notoriously clueless when it comes to the internet (or indeed anything).

Techdirt points out:

If the guy isn’t physically trespassing and the owner of the WiFi has it open, then what’s the problem? You can’t assume that the owner wanted it closed. If they did, they would have closed it. It’s the access point owner’s own fault if they’re not securing the WiFi. Since all it is is radio waves, we’re again left wondering if police will start arresting people who use the light shining from inside a house to read something out on the street. After all, that’s basically the same thing: making use of either light or radio waves that were emitted from within the house, but are reaching public areas.

So what about companies like Fon? Or about all the wifi enabled phones and handhelds?

Users do not stand still

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Dave Winer on the fundamental problem with social networks:

…many people are tired of entering the same relationship information for lots of different social networks. I am one of those people. Maybe you are too. Maintaining this information is even more problematic, that’s why we tend to use one “current” social network, and leave a trail of moribund networks behind us.

I am one of those people and I try most networking applications I hear about – Flickr, Facebook, twitter, dopplr etc. I set up a profile pretty early on and observe what happens. So far, I haven’t found much use for them but that doesn’t mean other people don’t. I am also one of those people who clamour for more openness but as Dave points out social networking is valued in a way that acts against them opening their platforms.

There are enormous economic incentives for companies that run social networks to not let users of other networks access their services. Shareholder value is a function of how many users they have, how they are “monetized” and how hard it is to switch. The harder it is to switch, the more money each user is worth. Any exec that did anything to decrease the number of users they control would probably be fired. So anything that depends on this isn’t very likely to happen, in existing networks.

I have had many conversations in the past few months about identity, openness (of platforms and networks), privacy and security. They come from different directions but they seem to meet in the same space – understanding that these should be driven by individuals aka users. And by the subtle and complex interplay between their behaviour and technology that enables as well as influences it.

One thing has become clear to me – the best way to get companies think differently about user data is to find ways to give more control over that data to the users themselves. As long users and their information is valuable to the point of negating any need for openness, companies will not shift. Take away or dilute that value and we have got a chance. This is where Project VRM comes in, starting with tools and applications that give users the ability to manage, share and otherwise manipulate their own data. My profiles no longer ‘owned’ by others, where my investment into building them transforms into reluctance to move at some later stage. This serves the platform owner, not me. (As a counter example, I love the way I can simply export my OPML file from an RSS reader and import it into a new one or into a blogroll on my blog or share it with someone else to kick start their own RSS reading habits.)

In his podcast, Dave talks about how an open network could work and how it could come about. He is right, it won’t come about ‘conceptually’ i.e. by someone designing it top down. It will be something simple, useful and usable – sort of like twitter. Perhaps, sayz Dave, we already have the building blocks for it. It will be something that users adopt easily and make it work in more ways than its designers imagined. This is because users are not standing still. They are learning and what they didn’t understand five years ago is now second nature to them. As very few companies are in touch with users, the new technology is rarely, if at all, determined by businesses. Or at least not by business as usual.

Open as in…

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I linked to my post about social networks in a Facebook note, just to see how it works. I got an interesting response from Geoff Arnold who pointed out:

But how do you build an open version of a trusted third party? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

For instance, how could Paypal be open? Or Amazon’s new payment system? Could one create an “open” bank?

These are hard issues. There’s technical feasibility, and then there’s rationality. I assume that it is rational to prefer to be a monopolist….

Yes, I see what Geoff is getting and and also that I haven’t defined ‘open’ well enough. I agree, it can cover a multitude of sins, so let me clarify… Open as in not locked-in, open from the point of the user and his ability to use the data that is being collected by him and about him. It doesn’t mean indiscriminately open and accessible to everyone. Open as in offering much greater control over stuff that belongs to me, that I create and manage. Open as in opposed to siloed.

For example, all the data and purchase history I have on (actually it’s I would like to be able to put them somewhere, in a place that I can call my own. And then do clever stuff with it myself. Combine it with my reading habits, travels (to make sure I have reading material for those long airport queues), my calendar for people’s birthday, with my notes on vendors, my purchase history, my opinion about prices, trends and reading habits, share my views on books with my friends. (And not just use some silly widget somewhere on a blog but as a proper space, secure and private but shareable where I run my own affairs using not just a few apps like ‘to do’ or shopping lists but the entire range of tools that are available online, openly developed). Basically, a potential improvement on the sparse information available to me that Amazon and other vendors that they collect for their own purposes. Not mine.

The internet is an open platform, but it doesn’t mean everything is hanging out there for all to see. For example, open bank could mean that the safety deposit box belongs to you and only you can get inside it.

All this leads me to my current obsession project, which is VRM. We hope to address, or rather, redress the balance of power between the customers and vendors, individuals and companies, employees and processes…etc. So watch this space.

As for Quis custodiet ipsos custodes… how about Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.. :)

I tried to post this response on Facebook but, alas, could not. I got a message – comment is too long by 450 characters. Not enough space for a verbose blogger. So here it is, out in the open. :-)

Open is still better

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For all those following Facebook and the social networks craze, Fred Wilson has written a good post about open vs closed network.

We’ve got social networks with lots of users, like MySpace, Beebo, Facebook, etc, and we’ve got open social networks like Marc Canter’s People Aggregator and Marc Andreessen’s Ning. But we really don’t yet have an open social network with a lot of users.

He makes an important point about Facebook applications – they are all directed inward – Netvibes and Twitter can be shown inside Facebook not the other way around. This is what it means to be closed. It also means that Facebook is offering something that overcomes the closed platform. People who are open platform evangelists, e.g. JP, to name but one, are following its evolution with interest.

Scott Gilbertson of Wired is also having a go, quite rightly, at Facebook and MySpace:

Social networks like Facebook and MySpace are taking the web by storm because they make it easy to manage your personal data and keep in touch with people you know. But to get value out, you have to put something in — photos, contacts, appointments, lists of your interests and your blog musings.

Therein lies the rub. When entering data into Facebook, you’re sending it on a one-way trip. Want to show somebody a video or a picture you posted to your profile? Unless they also have an account, they can’t see it. Your pictures, videos and everything else is stranded in a walled garden, cut off from the rest of the web.


We would like to place an open call to the web-programming community to solve this problem. We need a new framework based on open standards. Think of it as a structure that links individual sites and makes explicit social relationships, a way of defining micro social networks within the larger network of the web.

We do have an open social network – it’s called the blogosphere, and the internet But Fred Wilson is right:

I wish it were so, but most of Facebook’s traditional users (like my two daughters) don’t care that their data is locked up in Facebook. I’ll show them my Facebook running in Netvibes when they wake up this morning and they’ll say “that’s nice dad but why would you want to do that?”.

My explanation is that all these people are learning something. The old style bloggers had to learn it the hard way, i.e. discover how to create their own identity, reach out to their peers and audiences, share the sublime and the ridiculous (grant you, there is more of the latter than the former but so what?). Similarly, many more people are learning to blur the line between public and private through online social networks. They are also learning that technology is easy, modular and ultimately works for them and not the other way around. This is valuable and will be the seed of disruption in the years to come. At least that’s my theory and I am sticking to it.

Networking on Facebook, MySpace and other silos is like taking driving lessons. There is no recognisable direction. It seems kind of pointless unless you know that it is just learning and practising. Facebooks and MySpace seems a lot like that to me. But once people work out how to drive, how to operate the machine and how to get from point A to point B, they will be able to decide what the B is and get around on their own. And that’s when the real fun starts.

I remember – a pregnant pause laden with gravitas – when there was just blogs, no RSS and no Technorati. We had nothing but Google search, but boy, were we connected and networked! It helped that there were only a few hundred (political) blogs then and keeping track of them amounted to clicking through your updated blogroll plus frequent exchange of emails with other bloggers in your neighbourhood. Wait, just like people nowadays exchange messages and write on their friends’ walls on Facebook…

It is about ability to manage one’s own data and network. Even social networks built on closed platforms cannot diminish the first giddy experience of creating a profile that consists of more than a user/screename and data serving the platform owner more than the user. It is the control, the flexibility, the fun and play, the ease of communication and technology that makes the whole experience dynamic and mildly addictive. At the moment, not much else matters to the users – that is why privacy and security is a nice to have, rather a must have. I believe that will change as people get accustomed to more control over their online environment. So I whole-heartedly agree with Dave Winer when he says:

Closed systems are fine in the early stages of a new technology. They’re the training wheels for a new layer of users and uses. But, as we always see, the training wheels eventually come off, explosively, creating new systems that throw out the assumptions of the old. Eventually, soon I think, we’ll see an explosive unbundling of the services that make up social networks. What was centralized in the form of Facebook, Linked-in, even YouTube, is going to blow up and reconstitute itself. How exactly it will happen is something the historians can argue about 25 years from now. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will, unless the rules of technology evolution have been repealed (and they haven’t, trust me).

Amen. Let’s enjoy the driving lessons but let’s take them for what they are.

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