Homer and Social Networks

It has been two years since I was involved in social network mapping professionally but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest – I keep seeing interesting applications of these approaches as network mapping techniques continue to make the jump into all kinds of academic disciplines. The latest: The Remarkable Properties of Mythological Social Networks.

Basically – the social networks in The Odyssey (Homer, obv) are remarkably similar to real-life modern social networks, which is evidence that the epic poem is in fact based to some extent on real events and real people. Cool.

Intro to Metadata analysis

With all the discussion about the NSA and other organizations’ surveillance of online sources it’s important to understand what people are writing about. In fact, one of the chief complaints about journalistic coverage so far is that journalists seem to be getting the story more wrong than right – whether this is due to a fundamental lack of comprehension of the subject matter or for more wilful reasons is tough to assess.

Anyhow… earlier this month Kieran Healy published a super-interesting intro to “Metadata Analysis” – i.e., the analysis not of messages’ contents, but information about the messages: Using Metadata to find Paul Revere.

“Social” is now the default – or should be

Thomas Purves has written a great post suggesting – correctly, in my view – that It’s time to take “social” for granted.

Here’s the news. [Social media] is no longer interesting. It’s time is done. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s still vast areas of everyday business, enterprise and government that still need to be beaten severely with the Web2.0 stick (even the Web1.0 stick would still help in some places). Rather, it’s now time to think of socialness and 2.0ness as “business as usual” in the IT industry. The substantive battle is over, this is a mopping up operation. And there’s a ton of rolling up the sleeves and value to unlock left to do in almost any vertical industry.

I’ve been working on crossovers between social media and mobile for over a year now (from time to time – consulting gigs) and from my perspective mobile has already arrived. I think it’s almost irresponsible to consider a “new media” strategy without considering the social and mobile options that can be baked in, and not as some kind of cute bolt-on strategy but integrally to the whole thing.

Centralizing the social map

Loïc Le Meur has written a nice succinct post about social networks and software and decentralization: My social map is totally decentralized but I want it back on my blog. It’s pretty clear to me that this is where all of this stuff is going to have to go – partly for convenience, but also because that’s where the really interesting data/service mashups will most easily originate, I think. One thing I’ve been thinking about, though, is what this looks like on someone’s blog. I thing part of the barrier to this kind of thing is that the current state-of-the-art – widgets in someone’s sidebar or rich footer – is pretty marginally usable and definitely not scalable.

Lebkowsky on the Economist article on SocNets

Jon Lebkowsky has written a response to The Economist’s article on Social Networks, Everywhere and Nowhere on the Social Web Strategies blog. Money quote:

For months I’ve been saying that Facebook is the next AOL – a gated community that works for a while, but ultimately can’t be open enough to sustain prominence. This is probably true of MySpace, too… at the moment, both systems are growing and capturing mindshare… will this last?

Twitter Web Traffic Stats

The nice folks at Twitter have started to publish a bit more information than has been available about their usage. Today Biz wrote a post on the Twitter blog about Twitter Web Traffic Around the World which is very interesting.

A couple of interesting things pop out at first glance. First of all, 60% of (web) traffic is non-US in origin. This might seem like a high number, but when we compare that figure to published stats from sites like Facebook, Twitter has a relatively lower number of international users. Secondly, and most interestingly to me, if you eyeball the percentages in terms of the population of each of the “international” countries represented in the top 10, I imagine that Canada would jump right to the top of the list.

Considering that this is just an assessment of web traffic, not overall traffic, I don’t think we can draw any conclusions from that relative to mobile usage in Canada (usually said to be very low relative to European countries and others), but unless Twitter’s mobile roots are in fact insignificant compared to web usage, the numbers do suggest that things aren’t quite as bad in Canada as most of the other stats portray.

Problems in the world of Facebook Apps

Alec Saunders has written a great post about the increasing backlash Facebook App developers are facing recently: F8ce the music. I know for my part I have been drastically reducing my adds of Facebook apps and have removed and blocked ones that don’t offer me something fun or interesting in a way that I consider fair or ethical.

Alec also points out that in the dev forums, “suggestions that developers build useful or richer applications are scoffed at by those who view Facebook as solely an entertainment platform for college students.” In fact this may point to the most important problem with the app platform at this time. Developers with that attitude are completely missing the boat. They don’t understand Facebook, the value proposition that it represents, and are ignorant of the demographics of Facebook. The idea that Facebook is just or even primarily for college students is factually incorrect, and a developer who assumes that to be the case will and should fail.

The Big Guns and Data Portability

More from TechCrunch today as they have posted that Facebook, Google and Plaxo have joined the DataPortability Workgroup. Not quite sure what impact this will have, but it’s definitely worth following.

Yahoo’s Life – Already Irrelevant?

At the huge CES event in Las Vegas yesterday Yahoo revealed further information about their next step into social networks. Michael Arrington has a good overview: Here Comes Yahoo Live, I Mean Yahoo Life. Basically it’s some kind of mashup between Yahoo Mail and Maps with some third-party widget exposure/access built in.

The problem for Yahoo, as far as I can tell, is that piecemeal things like this are simply not comprehensive enough for anyone to really take them seriously. Yahoo already has a lot of great elements that it could leverage into a social media strategy, and the fact that they aren’t even at the table (as far as anyone can tell) indicates simply that Yahoo is either a) hedging their bets far more than they should, or b) too siloed an organization to pull its own pieces together effectively. Either way, they won’t likely achieve a whole lot until they solve one problem or the other.

In other words, Flickr is smaller than Facebook and MySpace, but nevertheless it is still one of the best-of-breed social networks on the web, and until Yahoo can demonstrate that it can (and will) marshal its own properties, their social network strategy is likely to be a disappointment.

Promoting open standards for personal data

Worth your attention: DataPortability.org – Share and remix data using open standards. Scoble has been publicly testing the portability of Facebook data (relevant posts: Facebook disabled my account, Unintended advantages, and What I was using…) in the past day and (of course) found the results to be less than ideal. I have a feeling that data portability is going to be one of the important issues of 2008. Finally.