Category Archives: social software

Web 2.0 Exit Strategies

Marco Rosella has an interesting idea about how companies can promote their exit strategies at the upcoming Web 2.0 Conference … (Note – this is meant to be humorous):

“The success of a new service, if really demonstrated itself different from all the others, however could decree the end: where there’s a lack of Venture Capitals and/or the ads are to cover the band costs, naturally proportional to the traffic, the only reason of survival remains the sell to a big company.

As we know by now, Web 2.0 web application’s interfaces have their peculiar style defined by reflections, fades, drop-shadows, strong colors, rounded corners and star badges, these standing out in the header of every homepage.

Badges are the key element of this kind of design, being the first to flash user eyes, and so extremely important for the right communication of a message with fundamental importance.

Below you’ll find some example badges, arranged in four incremental levels, each one related to a different business model.” (Quote from Central Scrutinizer)

This is a humorous way to portray the current environment; however, it highlights a serious issue facing web 2.0 companies. With so many new web 2.0 companies, it becomes difficult to stand out in the crowd. Not all of them are looking to rise above the crowd in order to exit the business, but even getting mindshare with users can be difficult. Those that succeed in growing a large user base tend to do so virally, YouTube / MySpace / / etc., which is difficult to predict. Web 2.0 companies will need to focus on finding ways to get attention. Maybe the acquire me badges are not such a bad idea 🙂

Social Software, Productivity, and Personal Connections

The blogosphere has been in a minor uproar today over the topic of social software. Ryan Carson says that he does not have time for social software, Nick Carr thinks that social software is inefficient, and many others have responded to these ideas.

I think that Ryan and Nick are missing the point about why people use social software. It is about connecting with people in a social environment, having fun, and maybe even wasting time in a way that helps energize and refresh our workaholic, play-starved brains. Most social software is not about achieving some goal or increasing productivity. Some people may get productivity gains out of using some social networking tools, but I would argue that this is a side effect more than a purpose.

Stowe Boyd has a lovely post talking about “The Real Heart of Social Software”:

The implicit premise behind this lynch mob’s logic is that social software is supposed to make users more efficient: for example, personal productivity in sales or online research. And I guess, by more efficient, the authors are focused on how time-pressed they are (several mentioned that they are too busy to use such apps, the presumption being that if these apps made them more time-efficient, they would be attractive).

I reject this mindset out of hand. And I won’t get into a hand-to-hand battle about which social tools do or do not warrant our attention, since this is discussion is about the socialness of these apps, not the functional jobs that they do, really.

Social apps are not about personal productivity. They are about social involvement, learning and enlarging perspectives through connection, and — ultimately — about the productivity of social groups as a whole.

An example may help. I am a strong believer in instant messaging (a social tool so engrained in our world that the various authors don’t mention it in their dismissive lists of social apps they *do* use, although I bet they all use it). But instant messaging is a great example of social productivity. If you accept interruptions from your buddies, asking for advice or help, while you are busily working on the quarterly budget projections or this week’s cold calls, then your personal productivity will go down. So, if you want to maximize your personal productivity, you should simply ignore all interruptions. Which works fine, on a short term basis, until you ask one of those buddies for insight or advice next week, and they ignore you in return. Time is a shared space, and social apps are increasingly the mechanism we use to share it. The whole notion that we could turn away, at this juncture, from the tools we use to mediate our sharing is ludicrous. This is no fad, this is a quantum shift. You might as well wish away rock-and-roll, teenage sex, and cell phones in public places. Get over it.

There is a constant social tension between personal and network productivity. And if your primary measure of success is personal productivity, you will naturally decrease your network involvement. But its simply the wrong metric for today, and tomorrow. (Quote from Stowe Boyd at /Message)

With social software like Digg, the people submitting stories are often looking to share knowledge about topics they are passionate about or trying to gain a reputation as a leader or alpha user within the community. These are not personal productivity goals.

Another example is MySpace. Young people do not use MySpace solely as a substitute for email and IM; they use it as an online mall or coffee shop where they can connect with friends, get to know friends of friends, leave inside jokes as public comments to demonstrate that they are in someone’s social circle, organize events, and more. These are not personal productivity goals; they are simply good fun.

Social Networking Research

Danah Boyd is currently compiling a list of social networking research articles and researchers. This is a great resource for those of us looking for numbers and research on web 2.0. Here is her request:

I want to track down everyone who is actively doing research on social network sites. (Clarification: i’m looking for folks that are publishing in peer-reviewed spaces, not just researching for their company or blog.) Nicole Ellison and i are plotting to bring ways to bring everyone together. I’m also looking to create a list of all known publications. I know there’s more than what i’m listing so i need your help. Please! (Quote from apophenia)

If you know of any additional research please drop a comment on her blog.