I’m waiting for the Trillian of Social Networking

This morning, the inevitable happened. I got an invitation from people that are starting to use Orkut, the latest fad in the Social Networking world.

I joined, like I have to some 5 or 6 other such systems:

But this time I’d had enough. I joined, and made a very simple profile that says: “I’m bored with maintaining multiple instances of my network on different social networking systems. I maintain my network at LinkedIn.”

In other words, I’ve had it. I’m not going to bother my friends and acquaintances with invitations to yet another social networking system. The reason I choose LinkedIn is that it has proven to be a source of good connections for me and it has the people that I am likely to be seeking contact with via “I know a guy that knows a guy” (“person that knows a person” would probably be more politically correct). But mainly I choose it because that’s where I have spent the most time on my network and profile.

Obviously, with each new social networking system, the value of social networking systems in general is diminished, as the networks become more fragmented. I’ve written before about the need for a standard in the social networking world, but it’s not going to happen not even when hell freezes over.

The big players benefit from a “walled garden” strategy, or at least that’s what they think, even though cleverly implemented open strategies have proven successful in various fields, a prime example being mobile messaging.

The situation here is very similar to the Instant Messaging world: fragmented user groups, big players that oppose standards and frustrated users running multiple systems.

In the Instant Messaging world, however, we have beauties like Trillian, that allow users (with a little hassle) to send messages across networks and use a single application to communicate with users using the different systems. Interestingly enough, the big players, such as AOL and MSN, have NOT prohibited this, even though they have several times threatened to do so.

The reason is simple. It pays off for them to allow it. Users have to sign up with MSN and AOL in order to be able to use Trillian with them, and if they would close it, they would presumably loose a significant user base to competitors that do allow it.

Now where is the Trillian of the social networking world? A system that allows me to register my account information from all the social networking systems and share the basic functionality, i.e. my contacts – nothing else. I’m convinced that the social networking companies would benefit from this, as it would maximize the registered network in all of the systems and users would choose the system whose extra features and approach to search, privacy, profiling, matching, etc. would best fit each of them. All in all it would draw a bigger user base to social networking, as the benefits of using such a service would be greater for each user.

The same could be achieved by introducing a standard, but that will take forever. A 3rd party could implement this (it’s not even very hard to do technically) and I could stop being frustrated at this, because in general the idea of social networking systems is great and has a wide range of possibilities that these companies are just scratching the surface of right now.


  1. 2 comments:
    1. You probably mean “deceased”
    2. There is a company in Iceland working in the IM convergence field … you may have heard of this company already :).

  2. 1. Yes, I did mean “deceased” and now it’s corrected.

    2. The company Viar is refering to is OZ (www.oz.com), an IM company focusing on the mobile aspect of the IM market.

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