Monday, September 12, 2005

Network overload

I'm addicted to Web 2.0. My two favorite elements of most Web 2.0 businesses are 1) their syndication platforms and 2) their social networking connections.

The latter attribute, however, is becoming a problem.

Friendster was among the first social networks, and it was a social network for social networking's sake. It didn't have any real functionality. I think that's part of the reason it atrophied (poor performance is another). By the time it tried to become an online dating site, it was too late; users had already started to abandon it in droves.

Eventually, almost every consumer web service will incorporate social networking as a feature. Companies such as Yelp, Trip Connect and Flock serve a valuable function and overlay social networking on top. Yelp is a slick yellow pages. Trip Connect helps with travel planning. And Flock is a new browser. With my social network embedded, I can find out which restaurants or plumbers my friends (and their friends) like on Yelp, which hotels they recommend on Trip Connect, and what web sites and blogs they frequent with Flock (when it launches in the next few months).

The smart incorporation of social networking makes Yelp, Trip Connect and Flock much more powerful than their Web 1.0 counterparts (Superpages, Trip Advisor and FireFox).

The problem, though, is that I will have too many social networks to build and maintain. In addition to Yelp, Trip Connect and Flock, there's LinkedIn for developing new business contacts and GoodContacts or Plaxo for keeping the information in my digital rolodex up to date. I'm building yet another social network of blogs, and the respective bloggers, that I read regularly. Popular blog sites like MySpace and Xanga basically incorporate social networking functionality to facilitate cross-blog interaction.

So, I'm already up to 6 social networks, and I'm sure others will soon emerge.

What I think Web 2.0 needs is an independent social network that individual sites can integrate. Today, I have to invite my friends and colleagues to join each new system that emerges so we can re-establish our personal connections. With an independent overlay, my entire social network would exist in one place and be instantly transportable to new venues.

Since no idea is original, I suspect someone has already started working on a solution to this problem. Now I just need to find it.


Nivi said...

Check out's open profiles:

Jeremy said...

I tried to find "open profiles" on, but I couldn't. I read the reference at, and it sounded as though it would keep the *content* of my profile up to date but did not mention social connections.

Nivi said...

I had the same problem.

Also check out FOAF and XFN on wikipedia. apparently has a tribe discussing FOAF:

Here is Mark Pincus' initial post on open profiles:

Rishi said...

Tony Perkins of AlwaysOn is making a play on this also, though I'm not entirely sure how it works yet. here's a link to a story about it:

Charlie at Union Square Ventures also has a good post on this issue from a while back:

Brad Twohig(Newly Hired VC, Dreamer, Entrepreneur) said...

Hey Paul, my comment on your latest article was meant for this one. It would be interesting to talk some shop on these concepts, as my upcoming job is later stage investments and yours early. I think I have some interesting notions.