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My Vision Of Social Networking: Burning Problems

This is a first post from my series about social networking.

UPDATE: Yihong Ding created post about Genome. Yihong have the gift of making complex things really easy along with the ability to recognize trends. And that makes him a great thinker and evangelist. Don’t miss his post.

Now I wanna talk to you about some burning problems we have when using social networking sites and tools. This is how I feel from user’s point of view.

Let’s start with publicity and privacy.

Problem #1: Publicity (and privacy)

What your parents, friends and colleagues will think about it???

What will your parents, friends or colleagues think about you????

Are you sure you want everybody to know your phone number, your email? Your ex’s? Do you really need your colleagues or employer to know about your problems?

Due to privacy issues you don’t have a necessary level of intimacy of your social network, although every person needs it. You have several privacy levels in your “real” life (I believe, it’s wrong to make a difference between real life and social networking life, more on this later). In descending order by intimacy level (also look at this taxonomy in comments):

  • Spouse/girl- or boyfriend
  • Family member
  • Best friend
  • Friend
  • Buddy
  • Colleague
  • Business partner
  • Creepy high school acquaintance
  • Can’t remember, too embarrassed to admit it
  • etc.

This natural order reflects the richness of human relationships. And the social networking must embrace them.

See also:

Problem #2: Distraction (and Time Wasting)

Social networking is incredibly distracting

Image courtesy of Paul Stamatiou. Do I have to say something more? Okay. Let’s do some maths.

You sleep 8 hours a day. You move 2 hours a day. You work/study 6-8 hours a day. How much time do you have for the rest? 6-8 hours. Not much. Think about it! Just 8 hours a day for doing sports, collecting stamps, cooking, enjoying your family and all these endless things! Just 8 f***g hours a day! Do you really want to waste it trying to get rid of all these messages, pokes and other *es, invitations, requests, etc.???

Sure, do it if social networking is a part of your profession or business. But in your real life most of this activity just doesn’t matter. We must reduce amount of information. Pay attention to really important things.

See also:

Problem #3: Quantity over quality

How do you like this?

Do you really need 5000 \

Or this?

That’s A LOT of people! 15’000 people is a population of a small town. Okay, I agree that a person can be so popular that a lot of people want to add her/him to their “friends”. But this is just one way interaction. Your social networking profile becomes just like RSS feed.

Value for a user depending on size of his social network

Value for a user as function of his social network size

That’s worth nothing. This “quantity over quality” trend is completely wrong in my opinion. We completely lost all richness of in-person interactions and relationships. Liz Strauss says: “The wider I go, the shallower I get”. I completely agree.

This problem is very close to Problem #2: Distraction I mentioned above.

See also:

Problem #4: Ads

Banner ads suck

See more mmm…”cases” here.

And again, do I need to say something more? I’m fed up with unwanted, irrelevant, banner ads.

Even Google ads rocks only on the search page. They often irrelevant on other pages. It seems like ads (even targeted) just don’t work on social networks. They are just annoying. When I see an ad on MY page (I’m the Owner of all my social data and profile!), it just makes me mad.

See also:

  • Waiting for your examples of stupid and ridiculous ads =)

Problem #5: No control under your identity

Oh….this is possibly the largest problem. And the most painful. To understand importance of the problem imagine that Facebook or MySpace (or other social networking site you’re using extensively) suddenly stop working. Or they decided to reposition themselves and start to sell fruits, for instance.

Your profile, your friends, you message history, all your connections and data are LOST! Forever!

Because Facebook owes your data, not you. You cannot save all your data on your computer. Basically, you cannot import or export your data.

So, let me enumerate all things you can’t do:

  • You can’t import/export your data
  • You can’t control who see what about you
  • You can’t watch who know what about you
  • You can’t ask some new web service to read your name, email, contacts ,etc. from your social networking site during sign-up
  • I’m sure, you can continue this list by yourself

See also:

Don’t miss:


I’m working on the project called Genome. My goal is to create social networking experience that doesn’t suck. I plan to implement all constructive ideas I’m talking about here in my project.


June 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Social networks cloning is good

Here’s two thumbs. One is Facebook and another is Vkontakte, one of Russian social networks.

Which one is Facebook? )))) Did you notice the difference?



Nice, right? A lot of people would say that making clones is bad, it’s illegal, it makes no sense, etc.

Well, basically that’s bullshit.

I will explain. Of course, it’s bad to make clones oriented to the same local users. I mean it’s stupid to make another Facebook clone in US. But making a Facebook (or any other successful network) clone, for instance, in Brazil can be a bless for Brazilians. Because they are enjoying social networking and they don’t need to reinvent a weel.

But please, DO NOT follow the leader  when your trying to innovate. If you think your social network will be 10% better than Facebook or MySpace, think again. +10% makes no sense. Instead try to create social network that is 10 times better.

Try something new. New approaches, new models. And keep things as simple as possible.

June 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments