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Friday, March 30, 2007

Too Many Social Networks?

I just read David Warlicks' post - I Just Don’t Get it Yet — Social Networks where he discusses his recent experience with several Ning generated social networks including: I’ve joined Library 2.0, School 2.0, and Classroom 2.0.

He then tells us:
I must confess that I am a little under-impressed. I have a personal page, just like my daughter’s Facebook page. I have an unflattering picture of me there, a place to put a blog, a profile (which I’ve scaled way back), a picture of Steve Hargadon (best part of the page), and something called a Chatter.

The Chatter intrigues me, but it appears to be only for people who visit my page, and I don’t think I’ve visited the pages of any other users. I guess I’m a real digital recluse. There is a forum, with some great conversations, but it’s a forum. Nothing new there. Now let me repeat. I accept that I may simply be overlooking something here that’s hitting me over the head, but I’m to dull to know it. So please explain.
I've tried out several social network tools and have had a similar reaction. I already have a blog and participate in a variety of discussion groups, so while theoretically if a critical mass of people joined the network, I would join to be able to participate - but - that's not really going to happen. If you watched the Brandon Hall network fail or have participated in Elgg then it shouldn't really come as much of a surprise that all of the recent Ning networks are going to get a similar reaction as David's.

I'm convinced there is something around social networks that will take off, but any network that is a closed system needs something as a hook to achieve critical mass. If it's an open system, i.e., can include my blog, my LinkedIn connections, my comments, my bookmarks, etc., then it's a much more natural take off. That's why I think that folks like MyBlogLog have the potential (but it's only potential right now) to really take off.

9 comments:

Steve Hargadon said...

I think that those of us who are used to the collaborative tools of the web are missing the point: Ning, for all it's simplicity, let's someone (an educator, let's hope) network and blog who hasn't done so before with a low learning threshold. If we can't really understand the transformative nature of the read/write web until we participate in it, and if the vast majority of educators are not participating but we want them to, then maybe we can use tools like Ning to help bring them in. Ning wasn't developed for the David Warlicks of the world, and so to gage its value by how much it would help David isn't accurate. Unfortunately, until those of us who are more vocal in the blogosphere are willing to rally around a good entry point, we actually end up keeping the barrier higher than most educators are prepared to overcome. :)

Tim Wang said...

This is a really interesting observation. It seems the younger generation is exposed to an exponentially growing information explosion. Blog, Wiki, Video Sharing, Online Gaming, Vitural Trading etc. I ask, what happens to the deep learning?

Rich Hoeg said...

I think the power of social networking and tagging will really get leveraged when these applications are installed inside corporate firewalls. Then the network is pre-defined with similar interests, and focus. Can you imagine networks that tag internal and external content for knowledge discovery, working on top of Google? I can! We just installed one at Honeywell. Link to my blog for screenshots. Click upon my name to be taken to the exact posting.

Tony Karrer said...

Steve that's an interesting comment about a "high barrier" - I guess I feel that in about an hour you can be set up on Blogger + del.icio.us or MyYahoo + pbWiki. I've done a few sessions that were hands-on doing exactly that.

Ning does reduce the barrier even further and that certainly might get more adoption. However, I think that most Social Networking tools are trying to foster a slightly different kind of communication AND the fact that it's generally fairly closed makes it a different experience.

However, all that said - point taken. And likely that's part of the reason that Elgg has been successful - low barrier.

Tony Karrer said...

Tim - by "deep learning" - I assume you mean when you need to spend a bit of time to learn about a subject - developmental learning.

I'd suggest that these platforms enable many different kinds of learning - but you are right that if you know you will have someone's attention for a day or two you can design things differently.

Tony Karrer said...

Rich - thanks for the pointer to your posts on tagging inside the firewall. I agree that this is going to be fertile ground, but I'm not sure if we don't already have a pretty good model with Yahoo's MyWeb where you can establish different groups (and it's public/free). I can share with my team at work, particular teams, my family, etc. Plus it has full-text search over things you've bookmarked.

But, bottom line - sharing via social bookmarking whenever a team is doing research on the web is a fantastic tool! Better yet, it becomes a leave behind that you can find interesting stuff.

Frank said...

Like anything else, the more tools that come along, the more selective one must be to best use their time and need. Each of us can't do it all, so each of us must make choices while remaining open to new tools as they come available.

Frank

Anonymous said...

Hi guys,

have you tried this one http://www.OnlineAcademicAdvisor.com ? It seems to be a little different. There are highly educated people on that network.

drShop said...

WooW =)