Lorcan passed along the following link about from Skrentablog that illustrates how quickly things change in the world we live in. The rapidity of change in momentum from one business-networking-site to a new one is pretty amazing (terrifying if you work for the latter). It seems to be happening far more quickly than any business unit can possibly respond to effectively. If you work for Linked-In and just bought a house, you might not be sleeping so well just now. This particular case is an extreme example of the sort of change that we've been living with on the Web since it started. Upheaval... opportunity... uncertainty... no solid ground. Innovate or perish... maybe perish anyway.
We in the library community find ourselves astride two operating environments with different business rules. One is fixed, well understood, and a bit long in the tooth. The other is characterized by constant change, huge opportunities, and risks to match, with no clear distinction between collaborators and competitors.
Social networking platforms are clearly important to our future in the second domain. At the moment, Facebook is on the mind of lots of librarians who are looking for the right platform. A week there convinces me that there is a good deal to be excited about. I am just as convinced that it isn't where we'll end up. Facebook lacks important dimensions of what we want... Here is a starting rough cut that Eric Miller and I squeezed out of a couple of beers in the June sun in my backyard this afternoon:
1. Data portability
Export into Facebook is pretty decent. Getting stuff out is another issue (no surprise... they want FB to be a terminus, not just another node).
2. Ownership of your own data
This is a corollary of the first problem. Marshall Kirkpatrick puts it thusly:
Lately I’ve taken to framing questions about data export and identity standards as rights questions. I own rights on my data; I want to be able to easily and quickly take it with me from one social network to another. If I want to have a single login across those different networks and perhaps even have multiple personas (personal, professional) then I ought to be able to do so. No one is doing all of that well, but I expect consumers to demand all of it in time.
3. DRY provenance
Dont Repeat Yourself: Every piece of content should have a persistent identifier that makes it simple to audit where it came from and where it went, so the platform can pipe data from person to application to person without ambiguity or repetition.
4. Typed Relations
Friends are nice.... we should all have lots of them, but there are lots of other named relationships opne might want to use to charactize relations among users, applications, and agents. And we won't know what they all are at the outset, so they have to be flexible and dynamic.
5. Policy Infrastructure
How is data shared, and when is it channeled narrowly? Family, friends, the public, groups... these are only a few of the options.
Some of these are about business models, some complicated to do (and convey). Their appearance in an easy-to-use system may someday cause Facebook the same sort of indigestion that one might imagine among Linked In folks today.
Its a dog's life (Buddy in Whetstone Park last weekend)