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February 16, 2006


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Hey there! For me in the "knitting world" Social Networking is about one common link (in this case knitting) that builds a community of common interest and then spawns sub interest groups within that (and sales of yarn like you wouldn't believe). So its context as a marketing tool should not be underestimated.


Resonse to:

Attributes of Social Software

I like your insightful "cluster analysis" of social software features. Very useful.
Since Yahoo now owns both del.icio.ous and Flickr, we can use your clustering to smoke out the functional gaps in each.

Collective User Experience
- Flickr offers real groups and a buddy system of contacts
- Delicious offers only three "groups": Everyone (front-page of recent/popular items), Interest Groups (people who have used a tag recently) and Private Cohorts (your inbox which is public but not shared).

So, delicious needs real groups (public/private, open/invitation-only) to satisfy this social software requirement.

Aggregates Information
- This is delicious' reason for being: Shared, tagged bookmarks are collaborative gold
- Flickr almost does as well with shared, tagged pictures except for one huge failing: You can't tag _others_ photos. This wastes the richness of group tagging since there's only one source for tags: The photo's owner. Also, being able to only tag your own stuff means you can't really group your Favorites or Contacts.

So, Flickr needs real, public tagging if it wants to join the Web2.0 ranks.

But, to really explode in value, both services should mine what you call "social context." Imagine Flickr/Delicious with more fully developed reputation system (Flickr has a slight headstart).

Or, something that nobody is doing: Tagging items by the public/private attributes of the tagger. For instance, what if I could find Italian restaurants tagged by women in Chicago? Or, articles being read by computer science graduate students?

I know that there are privacy concerns about this that you could drive a truck through but there should be a way to cloak your posts (i.e. don't publish personal tags for things posted by fewer than 10 people) so that people can see what gay Chicago dentists are reading without knowing that their family dentist is in that group.

Mike Gotta

Hollis, I would agree that there is a marketing aspect to social networks but my sense is that it indirect through the community-building aspects. The collective user experience establishes emotional attachment, brand loyalty and so forth. Some sites are obviously marketing focused and members become actors in the play so to speak. But I get your point...

Mike Gotta

Scott, I posted the table above that should help you. Some sites do have public, semi-public and private capabilities to "gate" information.

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