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Social Network Aggregation, Killer App in 2008? 76

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i've-heard-worse-ideas dept.
blogdig writes "Managing scattered online Social Life on multiple Social Networking sites, I sense, will become a Killer App Category 2008. There are several startups now in the "Social Network Aggregation" space and this App Category should diversify and catch momentum in 2008. Some startups are focusing on identity consolidation, others on messaging consolidation and on tracking friends. Some like Profilefly offer consolidation of multiple things like Profiles, Contacts and Bookmarks....The need for users to be a member of not just one but multiple social networks can be understood through Barry Wellman's concept of 'networked individualism'..." Unfortunately the most important use of these applications won't be seen for some time. I refer of course to using my warlock to murder the ongoing stream of hot girls who want to be my friend on these sites.
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Social Network Aggregation, Killer App in 2008?

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  • Social aggregators (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @08:34AM (#21881498) Homepage Journal
    My initial thoughts on this were "bah, people spend too much time online", then I caught myself realizing that in the aggregate, I have resources spread all over a number of services from the personal personal [utah.edu] to the professional with various sites from scientific ones to educational ones to time wasters like Slashdot ;-)

    I even started exploring a couple of social aggregators last year to explore options for consolidating effort and one of the most promising I've seen is Lijit [lijit.com]. The premise behind their product is that people tend to look for answers from others they know or trust, yet current search engines (even the almighty Google) do not provide any sort of framework for trust inside social networks you are familiar with. Lijit provides for this intimacy of information allowing you and others to search not only information in your blog, but also information from posts that colleagues, friends and family have perhaps written when you are looking for information from sources that *you* know and trust. It is an approach that certainly has benefits in the social networking arenas, but I also find the potential for business and academics to be very exciting. The only question in my mind is how to exploit different services hosted on a variety of platforms to make the content indexable, but since text strings lend themselves to this quite nicely, the next problem is alternative data sources like image data, sound data, video, etc...etc...etc...

    • Hmmmm... A few thoughts, not really having seen the service: I have plenty of IRL and online friends and acquaintances. Some I trust more than others on certain topics. I have one friend who's an expert in cars. I would implicitly trust anything he had to say about cars. His computer knowledge is okay, but I don't consider him any sort of expert in any field of technology other than cars. So I would want results from him ranked high on cars, but somewhat lower on IT, computers or networking, yet above
      • This is definitely one of the must-have features that I would need in any sort of social aggregation tool like the one you describe. I have other thoughts, but I'm interested in what others have to say.


        Will never happen. Websites change all the times (can't automate away even a login, unless you play cat 'n mouse with the site) and they're mostly badly coded.
      • I would implicitly trust anything he had to say about cars. His computer knowledge is okay, but I don't consider him any sort of expert in any field of technology other than cars. So I would want results from him ranked high on cars, but somewhat lower on IT, computers or networking, yet above my clueless friends.

        This is definitely one of the must-have features that I would need in any sort of social aggregation tool like the one you describe. I have other thoughts, but I'm interested in what others ha
    • by megaditto (982598)

      the next problem is alternative data sources like image data, sound data, video, etc...etc...etc...

      Ah, but that's where you come in. Study your retina and visual cortex or whatever, and hack together an algorithm to process an image to a standard contrast/color/saturation, split it into primitives, then analyze and classify those on multiple abstraction layers:
      lots of lines and curves -> lines are parallel, curves form concentric ovals and some triangles -> a pair of ovals is below a lot of parallel lines -> a face -> with a certain symmetry and distribution of shadows -> a face of a youn

      • by BWJones (18351) *
        Image search is currently one of the hottest areas of research with a variety of folks from the search engine companies to defense related applications to commercial aggregators of images like Getty. Certainly an understanding of how the retina and cortex process information could be helpful to efforts such as these as we have not yet found algorithms that are as good as people in finding interesting data within images. This is why after years and years, groups and agencies that process lots of image data
    • by jesse285 (1145913)
      It was begin to hit me that I was getting to many e-mail in one box, but that become a problem, so I get more way to have e-mail to me to talk, now there are too many to talk to, all I want was just one.
  • We'll see (Score:3, Insightful)

    by guruevi (827432) <eviNO@SPAMsmokingcube.be> on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @08:37AM (#21881516) Homepage
    I think social networking sites are going to gain and then lose a lot of momentum, maybe not over the next year but over the next decade we'll soon see that social networking sites are going the way of the MUD.

    I don't want to manage a social networking site let alone have an app that collects all the data and sends it to multiple sites at once.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If they're "going the way of the MUD," does that mean they're going to go graphical, become a billion dollar industry, and start releasing TV advertisements from Mr.T and Verne Troyer [worldofwarcraft.com]?

      MUDs are dead. Long live graphical MUDs (Everquest, WoW, etc).

      (*Disclaimer: I still play text based MUDs.)
    • I agree... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by UseCase (939095)
      I agree. The general population has finally caught on this social networking thing so the "coolness" of it should be wearing off at least from a 1337 point of view. These sites are correctly putting there development dollars into extending there networks to the smart/cell phone markets. The real killer app is going to be the site that finally gets the computer/cell phone social networking thing "right", if there is such a thing. Kind of like
      • World of Warcraft

      taking the MMO industry to the next level.

    • by sukotto (122876)
      MUDs/MOOs begat Ultima Online, World Of Warcraft, Second Life, EVE, and all the others.

      I wonder what the Social Networks will beget?
  • Missing links (Score:4, Informative)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @08:40AM (#21881534) Homepage Journal
    It looks like someone has forgotten the links to the referenced pdf. You can find Barry Wellman's publications including content about Networked Individualism here [utoronto.ca].

  • by Critical_ (25211) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @08:55AM (#21881602) Homepage
    I wholeheartedly agree that the first startup to get profile aggregation and contact management right will solve many power-user's frustrations with multiple profiles. However, I am not sure if this will be the universal killer app that people believe it to be. At this time, myself and many of my friends have profiles on multiple networks but each one caters to a different audience. My LinkedIn profile is for professional contacts, my Facebook is largely for keeping in touch with select college friends and family, and Friendster and Myspace are for everyone else. I don't necessarily want the same level of personal information available on every site. I would however like a way to group each person's multiple profiles under their name and be able to extract relevant contact information for synchronization into my mobile phone via Outlook.

    Maybe this idea can be taken further. Is there an open framework where I can create a personal profile on my own server or free hosting service and link to my friends profiles a la Jabber's open model but for the social scene? Could this service provide a comment space, photo sharing, private messaging (via email), and RSS feeds via a shared application API? It seems like this would be very easily to implement if Facebook, Myspace, Friendster, Hi5, and Bebo decided to open their networks to non-local hosted profiles and take the data from your profile and display it using their service's user interface. SPAM and privacy controls would have to be implemented but it would be as simple as: "If you would like to link your profile into the Facebook network please verify your profile via OpenID/OpenID2, email address, or mobile phone number." Granular privacy controls could be implemented by allowed users to group their friends profiles based on how much they want to share. Facebook has already started doing this.

    Until this can occur, profile aggregation will be at the whim and mercy of the "terms of service" of the big walled gardens. As it stands, profile link list sites like My Mashable [mashable.com], ClaimID [claimid.com], Spock [spock.com], and Rapleaf [rapleaf.com] along with a mechanism to push your data to these services is just a hack. Unfortunately, its the only way to go for now.
    • by nevali (942731)
      Such a framework exists, after a fashion, though it's very slapdash.

      FOAF is an RDF-based schema for linking "identities" together, but the only major service provider that supports it as far as I know is LiveJournal, and even then it's pretty limited.

      Technically, FOAF+XFN+hCards+OpenID should make it possible to create everything that social networks (in their current form) have, although there might be one or two gaps which need filled. The biggest problem really is traction. In order to make it work, you'
    • by lhorn (528432)
      Oh no!...cant resist...
      Well, you can put up Your Own Personal Homepage using THE Social Networking System of the 21. century,
      and most ISP's will give you FREE server space for a modest presentation in this fabulous arena,
      where a number of BIG international search and indexing services will put links to your site in their
      online directories for FREE and if you are unique (as almost all of us are) a search using YOUR NAME,
      your interests or personal relationships (if specified sufficently or reasonably a
  • really.. i'm not so sure that 'aggregating' social networking can become a killer app in 2008. Any player just want a bigger slice of market's pie so, they'll just try to get more subscribers from the other networks, thus nullifying any attempt to aggregate... I don't even know if common API beetween different network could be usefull, there are too many privacy issues and economical interests to let someone use private data soo hardly gotten from a subscriber
    • You tell Google [news.com] that.
      • by scafuz (985517)
        well.. i really meant Google's API. I've read enough 'bout that, but it doesn't seem to be widespread as it should in their creator's mind. There has been lot of talk, but so few apps built on top of those APIs make me think about the need we have for it.
        No, really, what we need is not just another aggregator, maybe the opposite [w3.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hatta (162192)
      If aggregation was such a desirable feature, all our IM protocols would be intercompatible by now.
      • by ringm000 (878375)
        Desirable to whom? That's akin to saying "if making Mac OS X/Photoshop/etc free and opening the source was such a desirable thing, it would be done by now".
  • Killer app (Score:5, Funny)

    by AndroidCat (229562) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @08:58AM (#21881622) Homepage
    I can see how Social Network Aggregation apps would be useful for killers and stalkers, but isn't that a rather narrow market segment? (I hope.)
  • What's the big deal with social networking anyways? Do you let everyone know every time you take a crap? Social networking is for people who would otherwise stay at home and never hang out with anyone, but thanks to social networking they can be associated with hundreds of people who normally wouldn't give them the time of day. I got tired of managing all of the requests to join networks with former coworkers and people I barely knew so removed myself from all of these social networks and just delete all re
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by archen (447353)
      Depends on your situation. I moved away from all of my family and friends in the midwest a long time ago, and while I keep up with my very good friend and immediate family, the rest I just tend to lose contact with. Likewise I have friends in Canada but I don't get up there often to visit them. Sure I could call them up all the time, but I don't have time for that and honestly I won't remember every interesting thing that happened to me since the last call.

      An online journal can be a good way to keep trac
  • by niceone (992278) * on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @09:09AM (#21881692) Journal
    If you haven't got anything good to say, aggregate someone else's content.
  • ... but I can give you an answer in about a year's time.
  • It's bad enough to have a profile on one social networking site... if you have multiple profiles on multiple sites and need some kind of aggregating software... bah! 'Nuff said. We could beat this to death. Killer app? More like killer hype -- in the end, we'll be talking in December about how the promise of social networking aggregation was the greatest disappointment of 2008.

  • I was hoping the title of this story was something like "2008 is the year social networking sites died". Now we are hoping for something that lets us make them seem more legit? Please help us if this is what the Internet has come to.
  • ...an app that aggregates the killing of social networks?

    I'd much rather have one app that lets me kill large amounts of MySpace *shudders* than one app to manage all of my personal information on multiple sites (that I'm not actually registered on) that might have different versions of 'me' on them.

    If it gets to the themeing level as well then can you imagine the havoc? Facebook pages with MySpace-esque unreadable backgrounds, or MySpace pages with (shock, horror) readable colour schemes!
  • by svunt (916464) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @09:19AM (#21881786) Homepage Journal
    In 2007, I cancelled my MySpace & facebook accounts, and haven't suffered a damn bit; in fact, I feel that I have more spare time and feel less obligated to engage with every fool who decides to leave me a message. I've decided I *like* the extra hurdles to communication that one email address and a single phone number give me. Since mobile phones, internet etc have come along, I've spent a steadily increasing amount of time responding to pointless messages, reading near-gibberish crap (hai 2 u LOL kekeke) and instead I can concentrate on my REAL friends & colleagues, who can reach me at near light speed whenever they choose to. Between privacy concerns and the general waste of time for anyone who isn't 14 and trying to collect friends in much the same indiscriminate fashion as a newly broadbanded teen does mp3s. I've made the decision to aim for quality in communication and connections, not quantity, and it's been a winning move.

    As far as killer apps go, I think the aggregation site aggregators will be the go. Imagine, a site that aggregated slashdot, digg, reddit, engadget, oh wait, that's rss, never mind.

    • I enjoy multiple emails, to separate things like /. notifiers from family email.

      However, re: "NetSpeak", I simply ban it. I announce that if an email (message, etc) has more than two "Netisms" I add a nasty note to my answer. (This is different if someone is working off a mobile device.)

      I never signed up for a MySpace acct because it doesn't actually do anything. My email is not crypted here, so if any of you felt I had to know something, you would have emailed me. I don't need a giant list of people who I'
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cowscows (103644)
      Not to be too much of a jerk, but don't completely blame the site for the user's problems. I have a facebook and a myspace account, which I use to keep in touch with some people that I otherwise wouldn't, but I don't find that they take up an inordinate amount of my time, energy, or attention. I never felt the need to respond to pointless messages. I generally just ignore them until they stop coming. I don't "friend" anyone who asks, I turn down requests for various things (even from my friends and family),
    • by tyrione (134248)
      I completely agree. Both Facebook and MySpace are junk applications but in a world of unsettled APIs and half-implemented standards, Facebook beats MySpace in quality hands down.

      Unfortunately, none of them seem to do much for you if most of your friends aren't in such purported collaborative environments. At 38 I expected more to be utilizing it but then mainly they have their ear plugged with their cellphone. They can't type unless their career really requires it and unless they are in a technical field
    • by snotclot (836055)
      I can see your viewpoint in your post, and I have thought about this extreme at times myself. I'm not much of a socially broad person -- I usually only keep in contact with a select few close friends at at time (and family at all times of course).

      It seems like going the other way, however, is a bit extreme.. why not just disable the Wall (definitely do-able) features of the sites? In addition, keep a minimum profile and do not update it-- with no updates on Facebook, one can easilly go incognito -- I've
  • by Isao (153092) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @09:33AM (#21881924)
    Back in the day, certain wonks (myself included) were worried about the proliferation of social networking sites, and that records would not be transferable or interoperable between them. We worried that for example if you were dependent on a site and it went out of business, you'd have no way to extract your social network and take it with you.

    Fast forward to today, and we see different behavior. People "friend" you all the time, and your social network becomes populated with many people, some of whom you've never met. At some point it becomes useless as an affinity group, and you'd like to cull the list to make it more useful. The trouble is you don't want to dismiss someone by removing them from your "friends" list, even though your relationship is tenuous at best. The cure appears to be that people abandon profiles and systems wholesale, and jump to a new system with a fresh profile. Friendster begat MySapce, then Facebook, etc. Abandoning the system alienates no one in particular, and lets the user start over with a fresh list.

    I'd bet that the last thing users will want is to permanently carry all that baggage with them.

  • I don't really use Facebook very much. For the things most people use Facebook for, I use Google for domains. However, I do use other sites like Listal, Last.fm, Flickr, etc. While these sites have social networking features, I use them for their database features primarily. Storing my photos, tracking my music listening, those are things I want to do.

    Now, while I don't use Facebook itself, I do have an account. Thanks to Facebook's application API, Facebook is already sort of a social networking aggregator
  • and maybe a bit more granular controls over your relationships in the social networks. its really silly that everyone that is on your friend list on myspace, facebook etc. are valued that same, when i do not have the same relationship with everyone i know in real life, some people are coworkers, some are friends, others acquaintances, some are coworkers and friends. if my boss finds my facebook profile and wants to friend me, well while i like him i don't consider him a friend, he is a coworker, and as such
  • by fialar (1545) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @10:16AM (#21882322)
    I have a group of friends who were on Myspace, who have recently jumped on the Facebook bandwagon.
    I gave Facebook a try, but it really irked me so I deleted it. So, a little over 6 weeks ago, one of my
    friends asked me why I deleted my Facebook AND Livejournal account, and I said I was so over the whole
    social networking "phenomenon". This friend became quite a bit ornery over that fact, so this leads me to
    a theory. I think people like being on several different social networking sites. It's extra places to check
    email, events, etc. The lashing out was like that of someone wondering why someone else couldn't get "their fix".
    People are actually ADDICTED to these sites. The sites aren't even that great! (Most are extremely poorly written,
    like Myspace)

    What ever happened to email or mobile phone text?
    • by cbart387 (1192883)

      What ever happened to email or mobile phone text?

      That's why I stopped using facebook. You get an email that says you have to log in to check your message when it'd be so much simpler if facebook sent you an email with the message. That's what led me to culling those 'friends' that you haven't talked since high school and putting a profile that only lists my email to contact me. The only new information those sites give me is information about people you wouldn't normally spend the effort to keep in touch with (In my opinion at least).

      Plus those stup

    • by pvanheus (186787)
      And I have a single page which I used to keep track of my multiple email inboxes, my facebook account (which keeps me up to date with events I might be interested in) and multiple RSS feeds. Really, what's so tough? I have the most annoying apps on facebook blocked, and for now it fits into my world quite well as a way social-life-aggregator - letting me know when my favourite local band has a gig, for instance. Sure, the local bands could put me on their mailing lists, but with a specialised (web) applicat
      • by dintech (998802)
        This is certainly a more useful form of aggregation. Maybe you need your own start-up. I would certainly want to use this...
    • by RobBebop (947356)

      What ever happened to email or mobile phone text?

      Ahem. Ahem. You must mean email and cell phones? There is nothing worse than the douchebag at the party thumbing out text messages all night. At least with a voice call, you need to seek some kind of privacy.

    • by mdwh2 (535323)
      What ever happened to email or mobile phone text?

      LiveJournal at least has a lot more than "social networking" though, and isn't covered by emailing or texting (I'm not sure how anyone could see the latter as an improvement when you have online access btw). You might as well describe Slashdot as a "social networking" site because we have profiles, you can add "Friends", etc... People could also say the same things about being addicted.

      But you're still here.
    • by Alexa33 (1212632)
      I totally agree with you when you say people are getting addicted to different social networking sites. I would say it has become even worse. I have a friend in Spain that whenever I like to talk to her, she asks me to enter a game-site. On this site http://www.pokerroom.com/es/ [pokerroom.com] you are able to ask friends to join you and play poker on private tables and talk while playing. It's just like she wants to do all at once: eat, socialize, take care of her children and earn some money, all at the same time. I unde
  • Some write a spam filter for facebook please!!!!!!!!!
  • by filbranden (1168407) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @10:51AM (#21882628)

    2008 will be the year of the Social Network Aggregators, and 2009 will be the year for the Aggregators of all the Social Network Aggregators!

  • The chart in the article [thebizofcoding.com], of the fraction of people on two social networking sites, shows what's really happening. There's Myspace and Facebook, and then there's everybody else. Whether Myspace and Facebook decide to interoperate is a major business decision. For everybody else, what matters is interoperating with Myspace and Facebook. Few people care whether Orkut and Bebo interconnect.

    Social networking sites have a life cycle, like nightclubs. If successful, they become cool, they grow, the losers

  • Apparently they haven't heard of a little killer app called Duke Nukem Forever.
  • While it's true that most of what occurs on social networks today -- getting friend requests from strangers and spam, building ugly home pages that play 10 different songs / videos simultaneously when they load, the ability to tell a computer about your social relationships does offer potential.

    An example: I recently talked to a friend of mine who is in a band, runs a recording studio, and works in one of the few remaining independent brick and mortar music stores in Iowa and he claimed if you make mus

  • I collect content [blogspot.com] from "social" sites and some people really dig it. :)
  • An example semantic web site which does attempt to combine your various social online identifies is http://qdos.com [qdos.com]. Qdos gives each person a rank score, based on your online persona, i.e. the higher your social activity the higher your Qdos, you can also log in using OpenID, and you can get all of your data back in a triple notation. You can claim your name, and add your various sites to the profile, and raise your ranking, if you are that way inclined:

    Perez Hilton (what a waste of space) in html:
    http: [qdos.com]

  • by Fross (83754) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @11:57AM (#21883476) Homepage
    It's simple to see that in the past, there have been many attempts to unify technologies, sites, communication mechanisms online, don't succeed. Not because they're bad products, but because aggregation doesn't offer most users anything they actually want. From Jabber or Trillian to RSS feeds or anything else, they've always been a niche product and probably always will be.

    I still read slashdot, news.bbc, the onion and so forth, plus sites like Facebook and Livejournal, on their individual pages, I don't use an "aggregator", such as RSS feeds and my own interface. Firstly, because it's fiddly to set up, and secondly, each of those sites usually offers something different in their interface which suits the content they're providing - often the most interesting stuff is outside of the "headlines", which is all you get on an RSS feed. You may be an avid user of aggregation, but as a Slashdot reader you're probably a lot more geeky than most people, and killer apps are those used by the Great Unwashed, not just us nerds.

    This is particularly true for social networking sites, in my opinion. While there are many out there, and many people have profiles on each (from Friendster to Orkut to Livejournal to Myspace to Facebook), most people are "on" one at a time. The fads come and go, the popularity for each application comes and goes - something new comes along and people either migrate to it or they don't. Something will come along in 2008 that everyone will leave Facebook for - just as happened to Myspace in 2006/2007. Most users don't want the overhead of managing multiple online profiles, aggregation will make *access* to each one easier, but not the management of each one.

  • Because I have. I had this idea two years ago, and started reading Myspace, Livejournal, Facebook, Xanga, etc., TOS to see what actually is and isn't allowed on their networks. IANAL, but according to what I have read/seen, most have rules against automatically posting and receiving information without directly logging in through their particular sites. I remember one TOS actually stating that screen scraping and scripting of sites would not be permitted.
    So,what's the business plan, then? Ignore the TOS, u
  • It'll be the year of social network aggregators aggregators (i.e., meta level)! Guess what's going to be the Next Big Thing in 2010?
  • Anything that avoids the, email to tell you that you have an email that you can't access syndrome would be great. I have countless mechanisms for getting hold of email and messaging from all sorts of places and devices but oweing to more and more social networking I actually have *less* access as unless you use their web app you're screwed.

    So before we get a hard on for aggregators, can we consider the point (more communication) beforehand so we this can go hand in hand.
  • Unfortunately the most important use of these applications won't be seen for some time. I refer of course to using my warlock to murder the ongoing stream of hot girls who want to be my friend on these sites.
    Don't despair! They're probably all Level 2 Druids, so you just need the right equipment (Subject).
  • Social data aggregation will not make money for long. A startup that provides a successful aggregation of social networks will set up a new standard for sharing this kind of information, thus opening the data. And at the very moment that social data is open and subject to a standard, there will be no profit made in just hosting this data: there will be competing, interoperable services that offer this service for free (as in beer).

    Being first to this standard will provide some momentum and brand recognition
  • That's why I stick to only one site. Which isn't a problem in say Brazil or India. Is there really that deep a split between the American myspace and facebook that users can't stick to one? Aggregators are pointless if you do that.
  • They should call it Poopsmith. Shoveling all that useless shit into one place!
  • http://code.google.com/apis/opensocial/ [google.com]

    Isn't this the point of OpenSocial? If each of your social networks implement an open API, that makes aggregation easier.
  • Pull in all your social networking site feeds into a clean chronological view and you have a Lifestream. There were a ton of sites [lifestreamblog.com] that released services to do just this last year. It's a great way to share and see what your friends are up to.
  • Noserub - http://noserub.com/ [noserub.com]

    It's great, and written in CakePHP ;-)

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