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.
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.
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.
Ben Brown has written a good post about his defection from Facebook: If all your friends jumped off of a bridge… More importantly, in the post he describes a different kind of social network, and makes a good case for building an internet based on different kinds of principles than Facebook or any other MegaMart-style site is founded upon.
There’s an interesting article in the NYTimes today about the concept of “friends” and social networks: Friending, Ancient or Otherwise. The suggestion in the article is that one of the reasons humans respond so well to online social networks is that they tap into ancient communication and community-forming patterns. I have been writing the same thing about older-style online community for years now (which reminds me, I should collect some of that writing and post it here).