I’ve a decent history of social networking sites. Friendster, LiveJournal, Xanga, DeviantArt, MySpace, LinkedIn, and now Facebook. Nearly every one of these social networks has a slightly different focus (such as art, music, career, etc), but almost every one of them has one thing in common — a “blog” space.
Let’s take my prime example here, my progress from DeviantArt to MySpace to FaceBook. At each of these sites I could write regular entries, which would be distributed to my friends, and they could then leave me comments. It’s a blog, pretty plain, but that added social network let’s the information permeate my network of friends very quickly.
A blog like mine here, however, has the problem that it’s “notification” system is decentralized. RSS is great delivery tool, and RSS readers are elegant and functional now, no doubt, but the system offers nothing near what social networking sites do in terms of ease and funcionality. Social networking sites simply seem to offer a more complete, enthralling experience.
If you were to go and look at my DeviantArt, MySpace, and Facebook pages you’d find I’ve written maybe once or twice in these “blogs” over the course of nearly 5 years — that’s pretty abysmal. It’s not that I haven’t been publishing online, the simple fact of the matter is I KNEW my membership at these sites (and even the sites themselves) are transitory*. I was never comfortable with the idea that my data (blog entries, and comments) was stuck behind each site’s individual “Tall Walls” — hence, I’ve always run my own blog.
I was suprised and elated to find that FaceBook allows you to run your “Notebook”, as they call their blog instance, from an RSS feed. I was excited because it meant that I wouldn’t have to publish several places, I could just use my blog and be done with it. Sadly, I was soon let down. As I described above, part of what you lose from service to service is the comments that people leave for you. I enjoy getting to read back in these as much as the entries themselves (if not more sometimes). In this instance, the RSS feed would show up in my FaceBook notebook, but all comments would be left in the Facebook data space — again running right up against another set of Tall Walls.
I dream of a day, some day in the far future, where I have a central service (hopefully of my own) to which all social networking sites can tie into for data distribution. I want blogs from here to show up in my myspace, facebook, and even deviant art pages. I want comments from all these sites to aggregate and mash up together so that no matter which service I am signed into, I can talk with whomever has read and responded.I want the walls taken away, and I want my data. Of course, that’s a ways off. Damn.
* = And in some instances, these things AREN’T transitory, which can get you in trouble ;D