Victus Spiritus


You Define Open Social Media

24 Sep 2009

I had just read an article by Jesse Stay(Open Web - Is it Really What We Think it is?) and like all great posts it got me thinking about how large organizations outside of our control define the type of actions, and information we share online. From Jesse's point of view, Open meant information control on the level of the individual. While I respect individual rights to privacy and sharing, we should remember that their shared data, and contacts are in a very real sense "owned" by an outside entity (in this case Facebook).

I'd like to kick off this idea by capturing my definition for open social media:

My definition for Open social media:
1) I can share documents by posting them to select friends (email), or everyone (my website)
2) my personal connected social graph is portable so no business "owns" my network
3) the pipes are transparent to me, I should be able to contact people through many different subsystems with a simple status message
4) the hubs of communication are decentralized/federated (search can be propagated like status messages, I wrote a little about this on my blog)

Right now businesses like facebook are providing a turnpike (with tolls) to help me get from point a to point b. But they shouldn't own all the destinations, on ramps and off ramps. They should work on making it a beautiful ride that I choose to take.

When it comes to connecting with other people with social media, we have to be able to define our own set of rules. The value in network design is easing connectivity between nodes, in the case of social media, people are the nodes. While we should agree on a protocol for connecting us in real time (maybe XMPP), the style in which we instantiate connections should be of our own devising. The community ties we build should be able to move with us from social network to network. Why should I have to reconnect with all my friends every time a new social media channel springs to life? In the case of networks which are purchased or are closed down, why as a user, should I be punished and lose contact with many great friends I meet up with?

One of the most beneficial features of true Open software is that the lack of restrictions, and bottlenecks allows for maximum dynamic change within the network. If there aren't any Dominant Nodes (like Facebook is now), the routing of information, and the rate of change of the entire system is optimal for the entire network. To illustrate this concept consider how link sharing occurs now through the Internet.

  1. Search
  2. Social sharing
  3. a combination of social search, personalized to each user (node)

The last mixed solution will allow us to find relevant information from our social network, and topically within areas of our greatest interest. The benefits of this type of search is that we don't have to actively filter our information streams. Our friends and chief influencers act as curators of information, as they share what is most relevant to them. Our interests reveal themselves naturally or emerge from day to day usage habits and readings. Our behavior can be "learned" by personal search assistants, that we should be in full control of. If an outside entity or corporation owns this information, we are locked into their dominant node. Once this lock in occurs, our future choices are restricted by whatever decisions the external provider determines is best for it's "average user". The intricacies and diversity of individual styles will be dumbed down to a least common denominator, because what's good enough for the biggest community in a limited domain, will rule the way in which subgroups or minorities participate.

Here's an earlier post I put together capture some ideas: Open Social Media, of the People, by the People, for the People.

I've also asked someone I consider a social media super user, Reg Saddler to give this discussion a quick scan, as he is active on twitter and Facebook. He's also the super receptive to discussion on random topics and social shares, thanks for looking this over Reg.