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FutureNow Post
Monday, Jul. 9, 2007 at 5:46 am

Google and Yahoo Starting Social Networks

By Bryan Eisenberg
July 9th, 2007

Yahoo is working on a “new cool social network product” called Yahoo Mosh, according to TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington. Google, meanwhile, seems to be working with Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute to create “a system for users to seamlessly share, view, and respond to many types of social content across multiple networks.”

I could be a fan of a social networking aggregator with a rich user experience. After all, seems like social networks are popping up everywhere.

Can Google pull this off even after others have failed?

One of the biggest challenges for social networking sites is maintaining the nature and boundaries behind the different levels of relationships within an individual’s networks. For example, people may not want to combine their personal network together with their business network or they may want some of it to overlap. There are no easy software rules that govern these preferences.

Social networking is here to stay but it is in its infancy. Of course, in the last few weeks I’ve seen a flurry of invites from LinkedIn and Facebook. (Go ahead; feel free to invite me to join your network, too.) I belong to several other networks as well, but the value of all these different networks isn’t entirely clear.

Do you belong to any social networks? What are you getting out of it?

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Comments (10)

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  3. Bryan:

    I think we need to become drivers of meaning when it comes to what we join. Why are we signing up? What do we hope to get out of the experience? The next step is how can we make it what we want it to be?

  4. Valeria,

    I wonder if most people have clearly defined goals for social networking especially in non-business usage. In the physical world it’s OK to say “what the heck…here’s my business card’ while online that creates a permanent record. I have over 300 contacts in LinkedIn and I’m not sure I could tell you much about many of them while other people who I’m close to are not part of my online “social network”. IMHO there is a lot of maturing left in this industry. Just my two cents.

  5. Bryan:

    That’s why I don’t have as many contacts on LinkedIn as people who know me think I should have. I’m a connector, but not all people I know are on LinkedIn and I link only to those I have met, had conversations with, worked on projects together, etc. That way the network has much more value for everyone, yes?

    I agree, lots of maturing to do. There must be an adrenaline rush associated with pushing the “join” button ;-)

  6. Oops, I got the welcome from Bryan and the response from Jeffrey. Got it now!

  7. Bryan & Valeria,

    Nice posts. I have long predicted that social networks would continue to “nich-ify” to more accurately refect our offline lifestyle interests.

    I expect that an average individual belongs to some 12 or more offline social networks – yet managing meaningful perticipation in this many offline communities is burdensome.

    two solutions…

    1) people only join (and participate) in those that offer a higher value for the time invested – probably 3 or 4 max.

    2) introduction of a smart aggregator, capable of not just managing a single profile, but also capable of managing the nuances in the profile appropriate for specific groups – I call them “Personas”.

    The flaw – its a nice idea, but as you suggested, programmatically difficult to create such rules, let alone, would users even know how to define the difference – seems we do have rules, but they are more “instinctual” and may prove difficult to define.

    It’s no surprise that Yahoo and Google seek to join the fray, yahoo has had is floundering 360 network for a few years now, and has yet to amass any traction, I honestly doubt google can pull off a meaningful entry as well.

    But, then again, thats just my 2 cents.

  8. Wow. Do I ever feel sheepish– invited Bryan to join my LinkedIn network LITERALLY the day before this post. I guess that makes me a part of the “flurry.” [BTW, he DID join.]

    I’ve sampled most of the social networks out there and have found most lacking for the reasons Bryan articulates. LinkedIn is focused and relevant. And the value-add services they provide a various POAs seem pertinent and do indeed seem to follow the 3 fundamental criteria of persuasion architecture.

    Not so for ANY of the other social networks I can think of off hand. Social networking is indeed in its infancy– it very much reminds me of the first wave of user-generated content (blog/podcast/vidcast, etc.), websites via 95-99ish, and even microcomputer technology circa 1981-85. In other words,the rationale for throwing something out there is:

    a) if X is cool, X+Y (or XY or X to the Y) must be correspondingly cooler.

    b) “Just Do It”– just because we can.

    c) and after all, EVERYONE loves Stone Soup, right! Umm-umm.

    And for the record, the LAST thing I need is a social network consolidator. If I don’t have time/interest to listen in to everyone jabbering on my variously peripheral social networks individually, I sure as HELL don’t want them ALL poking me in the ribs and pulling my ear at the SAME TIME!

    All that said, Facebook looks most interesting to me in that it has the potential to be a social network PLATFORM rather than just a makeshift “dog’s dinner” of features and technologies. May be others out there with the same or better promise, but frankly, I barely have time to clean the crap out of my email, let alone poke around into the “latest thing” just becaus it grabbed InfoWorld’s headline for a day.


    P.S.- I know, I’m being (hopefully) atypically crabby, but I just have one question–

    When are Tech companies and geekazoid whizkids going stop waiting for their cats to bark?

  9. Nice post. As to me I do not have many contacts on LinkedIn either.However I do have lots of friends on Facebook.

  10. I think it will be very hard for them to start in the social network market but its very important because they need to make their search engine result page more social (think about content curation…)

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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