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Social Networking 3.0

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Google has sponsored  a project for the Master’s program at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute for development of a new-age social networking platform. While the big goal is to transform online social networking, the current objective is to build a working prototype whose goal is :

To create a system for users to seamlessly share, view, and respond to many types of social content across multiple networks

For this purpose they conducted a research on usage of social networking websites and here is what they have to say:

  • Gender: Men prefer entertainment while women prefer to focus on connections.
  • Age: Older users want something productive while younger users want something social.
  • Strength of Online Relationships: The Internet supports acquaintance relationships much better than close friendships

While I would love to argue here, but I will give them the benefit of doubt becuase the purpose is social networking which is not strictly limited to business networking. Here are some more points which I think are very revealing:

  • Similarity and interests become more important online than physical proximity
  • Social network usage is contagious. People join on a single suggestion, but require more motivation to continue use.
  • The connections listed in any single online service are incomplete.
  • Simple connections do not mirror the complex nature of real relationships

I interpret this in following ways:

  • Building regional social networking sites is not a good idea but building a social networking site around a niche interest may be a success recipe.
  • You need to be innovative in order to get people to come to your site often.
  • Seeing someone with only 5 connections does not mean that they are not socially active.
  • Relationships are dynamic, thus the testimonials that you see from 6 months back may not be valid today. Infact, I think all sites should allow a more dynamic rating of user profiles.

You can see the published list of features over here.

I think the greatest point about socialstream will be that it will allow integration and aggregration all community channels like Youtube and Blogger. Basically, it means that if I am your contact and I update a blog post on blogger or upload a video on YouTube, you are going it see it right from the SocialStream.

I am not sure if the application is also intended to capture content from places outside google network but they have hinted thats its on their radar by saying:

Socialstream would be based on a unified social network (USN), a single network that provides social data to other sites as a service. A service model allows many social networks to be linked together, letting them share both content and the nature of the relationships of the people who use them. A USN would, in practice, be invisible. All participating sites would simply share information through it. While the centralization of social information would enhance all applications that use it, the USN’s own interface would be very simple, perhaps only focusing on preferences and privacy controls that applied everywhere. Socialstream represents one possible way of accessing the information spread across participating networks.

Well, realistically speaking, SocialStream is still a university project and its not indicated whether or not it will be adopted by Google. Lets keep a watchout for it anyways !

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