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Social Networking: Out not In

A social network diagramImage via Wikipedia

Unlike a lot of people on the internet I’m not going to claim to be some sort of social media guru or consultant or what ever BS word people like to attach to themselves to try to garner some sort of authoritative position. I will say I’m a long time geek with a proven track record of, more or less, knowing what the heck I’m talking about. I use Twitter and Blogger and Facebook and I read websites like Mashable. I also take an interest in sociology and psychology and the way things and people work. More importantly how they work together. UI’s, work flows, interfaces all the stuff that puts most people to sleep in 3 minutes.
This brings me to talk about context and “the social graph”. I hate that term but that aside it’s what folks in the social media market use. As I’m sure most have experienced if you go to a social website and “like” something or go to a market website and look at something majority of the time you get adverts and links for more of the same. Amazon is a prime example. Go look at TVs. When you come back to your home page on amazon you’ll have a giant list of TVs. This is a prime example of in. This is starting at the outside edge of your social graph. What did you look at? Ok now lets find more of that. The software either moves inwards on your social graph or doesnt move at all. Shouldn’t these systems be helping you to discover new things, new people and new products instead of telling you what you all ready knew? You all ready know you want a TV so you’ll be searching for them, researching them and looking for the best price. Throwing a hand full of random TVs at you isn’t really helpful. Like wise if you were just recently searching for a TV you might want to know about either types of TVs different from the ones you were looking at or other devices that are TV related but not exactly TVs per say. Like Boxee or something.
In terms of things like Facebook it’s more about whats most relevant vs. whats most popular. Unfortunately children are popular with most of the crowd my age. They post all kinds of things about their kids. While it’s most popular I’ve marked my profile as being single and yet my “top news” is still dominated by what kind of poop some ones kid took last night. All this shows a lack of context building on the part of the social networks. I all ready know all my friends have kids. I’m sitting at the same point on my social graph with this information or moving in to the social graph of married friends instead of moving out in to meet new people singles land.
I’m not claiming I have all the answers. I’m sure building these networks isn’t easy but as I look at the churn that happens in my information, in the recommendations that happen on my social network sites. I keep looking at what appears to be a mirror. They keep telling me what I all ready did or urging me to look at more of what I all ready have. Please for the love of all that is good give me useful,¬†interesting, new information instead of letting me know I looked at TVs. That, in fact, did JUST HAPPEN!
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