How to get me to use your Social Network app

I don’t have a Facebook account. I don’t do social networking today because I refuse to go to the trouble of doing redundant work on the Internet every time the fashion changes. (LinkedIn got the one exemption here, but I don’t recall why.)

All of you who built a list of LiveJournal friends, and then MySpace friends, and now Facebook friends all know what I’m talking about. Don’t you feel silly now that you don’t use your LiveJournal account, and only occasionally use your MySpace account? Don’t you wish that you could carry your work with you from site to site?

Brad Fitzpatrick and David Recordon spent some time thinking about this in their August 2007 paper “Thoughts on the Social Graph”. They discuss that there are a large and growing number of useful and interesting applications that depend on data about relationships (such as “friend” or “coworker”) between people. They argue that we should be able to stash this information in a single location for re-use again everywhere else.

I love their idea for many reasons, not the least of which is that it allows me to not have to do the redundant work that I described above.

Rumors abound that Google may ship the first credible Social Graph API in November. If what they ship makes the time I invest cultivating my friends list on Orkut reusable elsewhere on the web, I’ll be among the first to sign up.

There is, however, one additional condition: they have to allow me to use my OpenID. I not only don’t want to have to build the list 80 different places. I also don’t want to have to answer obnoxious questions about which of my favorite usernames happened to be available on each site that I use. Given that OpenID makes use of a well-established global namespace, it makes this problem easy to solve for me as an OpenID user.

In summary, to get me to use your Social Network app:

  1. Publish to, and import from some sort of community social graph; and
  2. Allow me to use my OpenID as my account identifier.

One Comment

  1. Posted October 15, 2007 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    I finally broke down and created a mySpace account because I felt I was being left out of the loop as far as discoverability was concerned. So I basically created a page that says, “I was here, but don’t count on me being here anymore.”, that just links to my blog and flickr pages so that people can still find me and get in touch.

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