The perfect social networking system

I ran across an excellent article, Evaluating Social Network Services, by Christopher Allen in his very interesting blog, Life With Alacrity, which reviews four of the leading social network software/services:


The article is slightly aging (December 2003) and Christopher says he is planning an update but it still a very good introduction and review.

The perfect social networking service

Christopher closes the article with his thoughts on the perfect social networking service:

“My ideal service would have the multiple professional affiliation features of LinkedIn, but also allow me to show non-professional affiliations. It would allow me to form intentional communities like Tribes.Net, but would also let me do a Wiki in addition to a message board. It would have meeting/party invite services like eVite, and blogging features like LiveJournal. It would have an endorsement system like LinkedIn integrated not only with professional endorsements, but personal endorsements as well, and you could even endorse intentional communities. It would let me better map and control my network, giving different friends different privileges. It would handle the release of my personal information like Ryse, but less clunky.”

But are they really networks?

One of the things that struck me is that all these social network systems are designed so a person, by joining one of them, can find other people, directly or indirectly, who can help them in some way, socially or professionally.

And it looks like mostly they can do this job very well.

However, as Christopher points out, the network is often a hierarchy built, at least initially, around certain well connected individuals.

Outside this ‘hub’ person often the other individuals in the hub's immediate network may not really know each other which can be a barrier in enabling useful interactions between these guys.

Team Social Software?

I pointed out previously that these tools might also be very helpful to a team who are trying to manage their collective networks well and find useful contacts for the team from their consolidated pool of relationships.

However in this context the social network tools need to address a similar but subtly different problem:

“How can any person in my team can find a person within the teams collective relationships who can help my team in some way?”

It seems that the focus is more on finding help for the team not the individual and the source of this help might be another team or group not just an individual.

Now perhaps the current generation of tools can also be used in this ‘team way’ or perhaps there is a new kind of team social software?

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