zondag 1 mei 2005

The rise and fall of social networks?

Russel Beattie has decided to link out of LinkedIn. What follows is an interesting discussion on what makes certain social networks work and others fail.

"I want to use Russell's question about the 'real use' of LinkedIn as a window into what I think is a profound confusion about the nature of sociality, which was partly brought about by recent use of the term 'social network' by Albert Laszlo-Barabasi and Mark Buchanan in the popular science world, and Clay Shirky and others in the social software world. These authors build on the definition of the social network as 'a map of the relationships between individuals.' Basically I'm defending an alternative approach to social networks here, which I call 'object centered sociality' following the sociologist Karin Knorr Cetina."

I do agree with Jyri Engeström that 'object centered sociality' is the future, but only in a decentralised AND grouped way. Nobody wants a different social network for each 'object'. There's more discussion on this in the comments, many of the issues of today's and tomorrow's social networks are touched upon.

"I'm not sure that Foaf doesn't allow at all the building of objects centered social networks. Foaf has the properties foaf:currentproject, or foaf:interest, which anyone can use to describe projects or interests. The only difference between Foaf and Flickr or del.icio.us is that Foaf uses URL, and not tags. It seems to me to be more semantic. Foaf is also a decentralised project : you'r not closed in a single community like Linkedin. But what reminds true : There're not a lot of tools (semantic search engines) which can today use Foaf files."

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