David RD Gratton

Tag: Social Networks

Scoble ruins Facebook and Linkedin, but he may have a point

July 19, 2007

I found this post on Why Facebook Why now really surprising. Robert Scoble is a smart guy no question, but he appeared not to grasp what a social network is and that there can be many types. He compares to , as if belonging to one is mutually exclusive to belonging to another.

"I dropped off LinkedIn a year ago cause the expected useage model there is to have your friends do things for you. Pass along resumes, give references, etc. Because of my popularity I simply got too many requests to do those things. There is no such expectation on Facebook."

uhhh... that's the point of the LinkedIn network. I expect to get requests on LinkedIn to help my contacts with business. Also my contacts on LinkedIn range from very close business partners to loose connections that I met at a conference. My family and closest friends are not part of my LinkedIn contacts. Conversely, friends (new and old), family, and close business associates are on Facebook.

"I’ve been on Facebook for about a month and I’ve already gotten 2,452 friends."

uhhh... you have 2,452 friends! I'm a social guy, but you have to have a liberal definition of "friend" to have 2,452 people you call friends. Then I read:

I’ll add you to my friends’ list. Just request me to add you. Oh, did you know that once you’re my friend you can look around at all the people who are my friends? This makes getting access to interesting people very easy. If I get complaints about you, though, I’ll remove you as my friend, so don’t abuse this privilege. Thanks.

Ok so now I can be your friend for just reading your blog? This just sent me over the edge. Dude, how can we be friends if we have never had a dialog?

So... here is where I was writing a scathing rebuttal pointing out in detail the differences between LinkedIn and Facebook, and how by trying to use Facebook in the place of LinkedIn, Scoble was ruining Facebook! Then it donned on me. Robert's social life is probably completely tied to his work life and he is probably not alone. It makes sense that he would see very little separation in these networks.

I for one have been telling local indie bands to move to Facebook (from MySpace), because the "fan lists" they can generate there are much more valid and intimate. So, why wouldn't Robert want the same thing for his "fan list". Why not ask his readers to become friends. He can learn more about them and keep a more personal relationship with his readers. That's good business. Sign me up. I started out highly critical of his use of Facebook, but I now think Scoble has a point. I may also start using Facebook for my business contacts.

So what does this mean for LinkedIn?

LinkedIn has business relationship tools that I like to use. We have just been looking for a COO and got some great referrals from my LinkedIn network. I have been referred for business, and I have requested business introductions through the service. I suppose could have applied some of the tools in Facebook for this purpose, but the mechanisms are not as direct or as private as they are in LinkedIn. However, getting more personal information about my business contacts, which Scoble rightly points out is readily available on Facebook, would be highly useful.

So, LinkedIn should probably start developing a USEFUL Facebook application that leverages their tools. I would be so bold as to state that this is a much higher priority than developing their own API for 3rd parties.

(I still think Robert dropping off of LinkedIn because he was so popular that he received too many 'requests to do something' for his contacts is still misguided. The Tipping Point, or The Frog and Prince, would suggest that may not be a good networking decision.)

Documentary Gives "Insider" Insight into Second Life Phenomena

March 18, 2007

A couple weeks ago, I began working with a gentleman named Douglas Gayeton on a new social network for a mutual client in New York. The first day I worked with Douglas, he immediately began providing valuable insight and guidance to the team. His personality is a force of nature, and both the client and I knew immediately we had the right guy leading this project.

When Douglas came to our Vancouver offices last week, I learned that he devoted 6 months of his life in 2006 emerged in a Second Life developing an "In World" documentary of Second life. The first chapter of the documentary reached number 1 on YouTube last week. The documentary also has been accepted to the Hot Docs in Toronto and the Tribeca NY film festivals.

The first chapter is fascinating. Once you see it, you will see how unique this doc is. I asked Douglas for the other episodes, but I have to wait, too. Go check it out.

Other Conversations on:

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Hitwise has a bad definition of Social Networking

March 15, 2007

Stephen O'Hear reports that according to Hitwise, the US market share of the top 20 social networking sites grew by 11.5 percent from January to February 2007.

Pretty impressive numbers over 2 months, and the list of the top 20 Social Networks was interesting. However after talking with Stephen, I discovered that the Hitwise definition of a social network is horribly flawed. Their definition limits the study to sites that are broad friend-based social networks. It omits sites like, Flickr, Last.fm, 2nd Life, or Project Opus which are deemed "social software".

This is absurd! Social networking is a feature of almost any media publishing service. A friend based social network like could easily be called a mailing list social network. is a roll-a-dex social network. Last.fm is a music recommendation social network. Flickr is a photography social network.

Other conversations on:

Beyond Communities of Interest, Communities do not Exist

July 3, 2005

My company has been working with what we have been calling Information Clouds, and I came upon Thomas Vanderwal's body of work.

And thus we have an example of the postulate that "no idea is ever original; there is always someone who has thought and wrote or spoke of it before you."

Anyway, if you are at all interested in structured content, add him to your subscriptions. Actually if you are interested in structured content, you probably already know Thomas, and are wondering how on earth I hadn't until just recently.

His post last week on Local InfoCloud and Community asks the question:

"Does it make sense to keep the name Local InfoCloud, or would Community InfoCloud be more appropriate?"

He defines a Local InfoCloud as:

"information that is protected by a firewall, membership, or by interest."

He defines (as I read it) a Community InfoCloud as a:

"means of grouping and providing social interaction, which also provides organizational understanding (such as vocabulary, common ideas, and cultural understanding). The distinct social implications of information, whether it is by discipline, work, or other community have similar traits that are different from the Global InfoCloud and the Personal InfoCloud and it stands between the two in the middle ground.

Faulty Definitions of Community
The root of the question comes from an article he read which cited Brian Smith's definition of community. (Smith, Brian et al. (2000) “Silver Stringers and Junior Journalists: Active Information Producers,” IBM Systems Journal, Vol. 39, Nos. 3)

Ethnic/political communities: These are communities that may have no proximity, yet have a common political identity, or ethnic background. A variety of web sites have been designed to allow these groups to come together.

Geographic communities: These are communities that have physical bounds. These sites aim to complement the face-to-face interaction that already occurs.

Virtual communities: Virtual communities are groups that come together based on a common interest that the web medium makes possible.

Demographic communities: A number of web-based demographic communities have emerged to serve various constituencies. Web sites that are based upon a demographic community are growing in popularity.

Activity-based communities: These communities are defined by a shared activity such as shopping, making music, or playing games.

Beyond Communities of Interest, Communities do not Exist
I think Thoma's dilemma is due to a faulty definition of community. I propose (Remember: see postulate in first paragraph above) that all communities are communities of interest. The virtual community for the most part does not exist without a common interest. A virtual community is really a modifier of community, and it has two flavours: Open and Closed.

Communities of Interest
Looking at Brian Smith's example above, how does Ethnic/political communities really differ from a music community beyond subject matter? Are activity based communities really different from demographic communities? These are all communities of interest. If I am 70 years old I am not a member of the seniors communities unless I hold common interests with that group. Picasso at age 70, was not a member of the geriatric community. Though a statistician would say he was. I do think Brian's classifications do work as types of Communities of Interest.

Communities of Geography are Arbitrary
Communities of Geography are forced upon us by happenstance. We live somewhere specific and some statisticians says we are part of a neighbourhood, city or country. However, I have nothing in common with my neighbour, except she lives beside me. Sure we have a common interest in the Strata Council, and in finding out who keeps leaving garbage in the foyer, but beyond that we do not converse or interact. It is our common interests regarding issues surrounding our condos that creates dialog and interaction.

Without Common Interest, Communities of Geography do not Exist (for long)
An interesting example: It is a little known fact was that in 1776 there were 14 established colonies in North America not just the 13 which rebelled during the American Revolution. One of the 14 colonies did not share the same interests or aspirations as those of the other 13. It remained loyal to the Crown, and became a haven for loyalists. The holdout colony of Quebec, would become two provinces: Upper and Lower Canada in 1791. The new southern republic, must have believed in geographic communities too, as it would war with its northern neighbour until the early 19th century, convinced that they only need liberate the populace from it's English yoke.

Virtual Community as Modifier
Virtual communities in my mind do not exist as communities unto themselves. It's true that I know individuals only online. It's true that I participate on project with groups of people on-line that I have never met before. But these communities have a common interest without exception. The on-line environment only extends your community of interest, facilitates a community that had no opportunity of existing, or provides the community with a new mode of dialog and interaction.

Whew, this post is too long.... I'll stop. To sum up:

Communities of Interest
- Religion
- Politics
- Demographics
- Activities

Communities of Geography do not exist

Virtual Communities are not communities but modifiers to communities of interest.

For those of you who made it this far, I would enjoy learning about your opinion on the matter.

[UPDATE - July 10, 2007] Seems this blog post has gotten some interest thanks to Om Malik I'm missing most of this post. The blog post must have gotten corrupted during the transfer from moveable type to Drupal earlier this year. I will see if I can find the original post or if I can remember what I wrote 2 years ago.

[UPDATE 2- July 10, 2007] The original post is restored.

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