Ah, Web 2.0:
If you read this blog on the Web instead of via a feed (people still do that? - how quaint), then over the past few weeks you've seen the above appear in the title area. For the most part they consist of badges with links to my profiles on various "social networking" sites, inviting you to "friend" or "follow" me. Feel free, that's what they're there for. But if I don't know you I'll probably demur from accepting an invite, so if you're one of my blogging friends but send me an invite from a MySpace user name of "2kewl4sk00l" you'd better put something in the message letting me know who you really are.
Social networking is fun. I interact daily with people around the world using it, and have gotten back in touch with people from up to 40 years ago using LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, et al. Family, friends, former and current coworkers all in daily contact - a happy fun ball of sociality! But there's a problem lurking under the pleasant, friendly facade of all these sites, and no, it isn't some supposed loss of privacy.
It is loss of time.
"It started out as a social thing, ya know? Something I did with my friends. Then pretty soon it got out of control. I was emailing and IMing and blogging and updating my status on 13 different sites and throwing snowballs and decorating Christmas trees and sending pics from my phone and taking movie quizzes and nudging and poking and tweeting...and then, one day, I didn't even know which site I was on or whose wall I was writing on. I had hit the bottom. Next stop, hell."Because the care and feeding of social networks requires as much or more effort as the care and feeding of email. And we already know how much time that can take. So along comes software to solve the problems caused by social networking software (all software is just infinite layers of problems deferred to another layer). Aggregators that can scrape status feeds off of various sites and/or set your status across multiple sites. Sounds great. Sign me up! Except none of them quite give you all the coverage you need, which was the meaning behind my GraphJam graph the other day:
There's even more software out there trying to do the same thing. All of it fails in one way or another, mostly around lack of coverage (see the badges, above). Plus the popular ones are suffering growing pains. Add to all that the fact that many of the sites being aggregated don't want to be, because they want to drive you to their site so they can throw ads at your eyeballs. I don't know for certain but I suspect that's why posting to MySpace from ping.fm was working but now is not:
So, what's the answer? I dunno. I do know that sooner or later the lower traffic sites in terms of friend-interactions (I'm looking at you, GoodReads!) are either going to get dropped, or are going to have to be successfully supported by an aggregator that can do both updates to the site and friend feeds from it. And while I'm at it, let's throw in email, chat and feed reading, too. What I want is something like:
Gmail+Google Reader+FriendFeed+SocialThing+Gridjit+ping.fm+Twitter+Meebo=World Domination
It should be Web-based with no client to install, accessible from anywhere using Windows, OS/X, Linux and my phone. It should just work. It should always be available. Oh, and it shouldn't have the clunkiness of iGoogle and a bunch of third party widgets I don't trust.
Is that too much to ask? :o)
Anyone know of anything that even comes close?