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Wednesday, December 08, 2004  

A Network of Networks
I though social network software was dead as of 2001, and here I am, juggling like 4 different networks, all of which bring a different set of strengths and uses to the table. My biggest problem w/ the social networks WAS I thought they were pretty useless. And for the most part the early incarnations like Frindster were good for little else than killing time ("Hey look, 'Law and Order' is my friend!") But the second generation (3rd generation?) networks are finding niches and there are some exciting things going on. The catch with these systems is you need to have social connections to really get the most out of them, and while it is certainly possible to construct your list of contacts solely within the confines of a given network it sure helps to carry your real-world contacts into the network.

That said, some of the networks I'm currently using are, Myspace (my page) as the general social-net since it is so big in my office. Myspace is the logical successor to friendster and there are some useful photo-sharing, blogging, and messaging tools built-in. It has also found favor among unsigned/undergroud/on-the-verge musical acts to promote their work.

Next up is the most transparent and most promising of the crop: Audioscrobbler (my page.) Audioscrobbler is unique in that it uses a plug-in for your digital-music software and logs everything you listen to and constructs a detailed database of your listening habits. You can then explore music recommendations as well as other people that share similar taste in music. The stat-nerd in my loves this one and it is far superior to the "playcount" rating in iTunes alone.

The new kid on the block is still in early beta, but it is easily the most practical of the networks out there. del.icio.us (my "inbox") is a "social bookmarks" service that allows you to post anoted and tagged bookmarks to a search able, subscribable database. It took me a while to wrap my head around WHY everyone thought this was the shit, but now I L-O-V-E it. Basically whenever I run across a neat site that I think I'll want to look at, or link to at a later time I post it to my del.icio.us inbox and tag it "readreview" or "tolink" and then I can have access to these sites from anywhere at anytime. You can then "subscribe" to other users inboxes and see what they are linking, or subscribe to specific "tags," and it is all neatly rolled into RSS feeds. Really a killer-app.

And finally my current favorite Network flickr (my page.) Flickr is a kick-ass photo-sharing, mo-blogging, on-line image repository. It has a killer UI, great feature set, and an extremely prolific user base. If you have a digital camera there is no reason that you shouldn't be using this service.

SO yeah, that is my take on the current crop of social networks out there. I'll expand on some of the best features on another post at some point, but until then go check a couple of them out. I think you'll find that these systems have come along way since the early days of friendster.

posted by JMV | 12/08/2004 02:50:00 PM
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