Social networking across networks

After years of being on Friendster and LinkedIn, I finally got on Facebook. Within two weeks, I was able to reconnect with many old friends. I was really impressed, not only by the size of Facebook's network (30,000,000+ active users) but also with the rate at which it is growing. Most people that I reconnected with, have only become Facebook users in the last month or so.

The biggest problem with Facebook (or Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, for that matter) that I see is that it's a closed network. Facebook allows third party developers to build applications on its platform but it's still closed in that you have to first become a Facebook user in order to connect with other Facebook users.

As a consumer, I'd rather not have to create and maintain a profile on multiple social networks. Why can't I add an Orkut user to my Facebook circle of friends? Or transfer my list of buddies from one network to another?

In contrast, from a single Email account, I can send and receive Email to and from any domain. I don't need to sign up with Gmail to keep in touch with my Gmail-using friends and family. Despite being a 25-year old technology, Email is still the only standardized open form of people networking.

Comments:

It is pretty annoying and I hope it'll change in the future. until it does, I use 8hands, the profile aggregator, which combines all my accounts into a single interface on my desktop.
It's far from our goal, but I think it's the best solution available these days.

Posted by Dave on October 09, 2007 at 06:38 PM PDT #

Dave, thanks for the pointer to 8hands. Too bad it only runs on Windows. I'm a Mac user. How does the "IM chat to any social network" functionality work?

Posted by Robert Chien on October 12, 2007 at 03:06 AM PDT #

Yup, the need is real, yet we've not seen how it could be implemented.

Thanks for adding me to the blogroll!

Posted by jeremiah owyang on October 29, 2007 at 07:01 PM PDT #

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About

I currently live in San Francisco Bay Area. For the past seven years, I have been designing and building messaging solutions for Sun.

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