Getting Social Networks to be More Social

December 01, 2006

Posted in Web Industry.

For all the talk of social media and the strength of weak ties, there isn’t much action being taken to really try to “harness collective intelligence.”

I am reviving a social network website that I built several years back. I was discussing it with my designer friend, Oak, and he
made a suggestion that clicked for me.

Oak suggested letting new users simply import their info from Facebook or MySpace. Since the majority of my users would likely have an account at one of these two sites, this would let them easily generate profile information without duplicating efforts. While my project isn’t so focused on networking with other people, the various features of these API-enabled services would often match up quite nicely. And that means a better experience for my users.

Today I saw a post on this same topic:

More thoughts on portable social networks

Once you populate a network on one site, that information should be easily portable to another site. That’s doable. It isn’t even that hard: all it requires is the addition of a few rel attributes and possibly some hCard encoding.

Let’s not go chasing a complicated solution when a simpler one will do.

So here’s my plea—nay, my demand—to the next Web X.X social networking doohickey that wants me to join up:

  1. Give me a simple input field for entering a URL that lists my contacts.
  2. Parse that URL for people and relationships.
  3. Voila! I’ve added a bunch of friends. I may repeat from step one with a different URL.
  4. Markup my contacts on your doohickey in an easily exportable way.

Yes! Except I imagine taking it further. Profile info. Contacts. Maybe tying into your existing blog or Flickr account. It’s your data.

I’ll be using microformats on the site. It makes sense. But using rel in my links? I dunno. Haven’t decided yet.

I’ll be posting more about this project as the site nears ‘hooray.’

1 Comment

  1. oak — December 02, 2006

    that oak. whatta guy.