Pardon the brevity of this post it's 38F and my fingers are fricken freezing (couldn't find a good frozen Dr. evil image). It warmed up while I typed
The Bargains We Make to Communicate
Over the past year and a half I've been part of a wonderful information sharing expedition. Much of the journey was opting in to new darling social networks, searching for folks just as wild about information and expanding (net) opportunities as myself (there's just something about startups). Visit my friends and influencers page to learn more about the wonderful folks who influence me, their generosity is a precious gift.
My attention has settled on the more technical friendly information flow sites (Twitter, friendfeed, wave, Buzz?) and shyed away from the Facebook relationship model (I pop in to say hi). One of the hot button topics around the social web is open distributed social networks, where data portability is a fundamental requirement. This way individuals own their data and who they wish to associate with. Current social services have absolute authority to ban or shun you now, disconnecting you from potentially many net friends and associates. A huge number of connections could be lost if the central service fails as a business. I'd prefer a simple data package of my contact data that I can bring with me anywhere I choose to go. A distributed model with portable data jives with my instincts, but is a strict contrast to current centralized financial models (virtual toll booths). The way for businesses to grow with social media is not to own the links between people, but to enrich communication and offer users value. I'm a firm believer in opt in (and easy to opt out) services which provide a clear value proposition (we're striving to make Victus Media a solid bargain). As an example, this blog doesn't own your attention (creepy flashback of Clockwork Orange). The value comes from readers such as yourself who choose to return and share your own perspective (comments/links) to broaden my views. Mine is but one voice and vision.
Not long ago we'd laugh at the idea of third party communication services to manage our friendships. But now the fastest growing web business space is connecting people to people, and people to information (Facebook & Google). And this isn't taking into account the huge opportunities for creative tools that can enrich our social web use. While I prefer a social web where my network and data goes with me (portable contacts list), there are a number of opt in deals I'd consider to save me time when looking for relevant information, or money on service costs. For instance, a "free" phone with voice over IP, with a healthy and expandable monthly data plan which comes from many competing providers. The creators of the phone can set each device up as an ad-hoc network node (thanks for the reminder Tyler), and serve up targeted ads while we use the device. I see the net transitioning to include more ad-hoc, peer to peer networks to scale and break away from unnecessary virtual tolls.
Dial an IP Address, the Social Web Phone
One concern of any social web service is identity. OpenID attaches our identity to trusted verification sites and opens the door to wide scale adoption of federated networks. For the holy grail of interoperability the trick is services agreeing on standards (protocols) to communicate with each other.