Yesterday, when I said, “social networking is a feature, not a product,” what I was trying to say was, “all software should be social.” Fortunately, VC Fred Wilson explains it much better than me in his post on the topic:
“I have been wanting distributed social nets for a long time now. MySpace provides very little value to me. Same with Facebook. But MyBlogLog provides a lot more. Not because it’s a social net focused on my demo, but because its a meta social net made up of lots of smaller social nets.”
I first learned of MyBlogLog because I subscribe to a feed of Fred’s blog postings. (I don’t know Fred personally, but I have had the pleasure — via a mutual friend — of having dinner a couple of times with his partner, Brad Burnham.) I feel, however, as if I have a mind meld with Fred on this particular topic. What he describes as “meta social net” and what Scott Rafer described in a comment on my earlier post as a “persistent social network” is an obscure topic, but one that has profound implications that I’ve only begun to understand after about six months of using MyBlogLog.
However, I don’t think that a universal persistent network is, necessarily, the point of my earlier post or Fred’s either.
As much as I enjoy MyBlogLog, I don’t think I want it to be host of my identity everywhere I travel around the Internet. Indeed, the more places my face shows up when I visit them, the more I remind myself that perhaps I should sign out of it more often.
However, I do agree with Brad on this point: It seems odd to me when I use software (or a website) that claims to be collaborative or community-oriented, yet provide me no overt clues that other people are present.
Here’s a teaser: Early next week, I will be demonstrating one way this frustration on my part is leading to a new set of tools and features on a website the folks at Hammock tinker with.
Bonus links: Brad also points to the NYTimes.com story about companies that are, “aiming to create tools to let ordinary people, large companies and even presidential candidates create social Web sites tailored for their own customers, friends, fans and employees.” The person I know who has been at this the longest is Marc Cantor and his startup, People Aggregator. Last week, also, there was a lot of buzz about the relaunch of Ning, as well.