Sunday, February 27, 2011

A friend in social software is a "friend" without much context

#Facebook, #LinkedIn, #Plaxo, #Twitter, they all urge you to connect to your friends and, that it is even to their benefit. Now that the software scene is maturing, many lost their advantages as they lost their focus.

The duplication is overwhelming and the noise is deafening. Often functionality is not where you want it. Plaxo was about sharing addresses with people. With all the additional hoopla its purpose is diluted. With the barrage of invites to garden or Mafia wars, Facebook became a playground but not mine and while LinkedIn is still a bit serious, it is not without its problems.

The bulk of the people who reach out to me are Wikimedians. Many of them are my "friend" in many places and, several of them I consider as real friends. The easiest and most obvious solution; another social network offering but one with a twist.

The twist would be that it accepts comments from other social networks and is happy to post messages on all these other networks. There are two fundamental problems:
  • for many Wikimedians Wikipedia is not a social media
  • will the other social media allow for this
The rebuttal for the first one is simple; time moves on and as we need new contributors badly. We should be willing to reach out and make good use of what social media has to offer. We can give game like qualities to many of our activities and in this way our Wikimedia activities become more attractive.

The second one is simpler; when our messages are not shared, the point to those social networks becomes even less. Our investment in the Facebooks, Twitters of this world is at most an emotional one. When the message and the involvement is elsewhere, would you miss it ?

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