How Open Are Things Going To Get…Calculating Value in A Social Network?

beesCourtesy of a link on gigaom  I read a fascinating article today by People Aggregators creator Marc Canter who runs a social networking company called Broadband Mechanics. 

This particular article is answering a question posed by a Paul Montgomery, a gentleman in Tanzania (correction) Geelong, Victoria, Australia regarding why Open ID should be adopted by blogging networks. 

The discussion addresses the implications of moving beyond transparency in communication to a more intimate involvement by users of blogging platforms.  This would be facilitated by a site’s clients utilizing source coding behind the scenes to control access and movement of their individual content.

Yes, it’s very technical, cutting edge stuff about interconnected social networks. In a nutshell the thrust is to enable networking platforms which will allow users to integrate ALL their Web 2.0 activities through one or more sites.  If you’re interested in understanding where this whole Web 2.0 wheel is trending towards next, it is well worth reading.  

However, I found the issues with reference to ownership of content and subsequent monetization particularly interesting in light of recent events on Active Rain regarding the proposed buyout and subsequent lawsuit against Move.com. 

Marc Canters’ take on ownership of a database (of names) when it comes to a Web 2.0 portal is that you don’t…indeed can’t. In fact he seems to dismiss the issue as ultimately irrelevant in the larger scheme of things.

“But dude – look. NO ONE is gonna wanna hang out in YOUR network. Its as simple as that. Trust humans – they migrate to where they’re wanted, to where they’re welcome, to where they feel comfortable. So if someone finds your network comfortable – then it’s the right place for them – right? How do you determine who’s welcome or not in your network? Their proximity to Tanzania? Golfing? Chocolate lover? Gay? Hispanic? By what criteria do you welcome people into your network?”

The issue is not about owning bloggers or owning their content as Canter rightly points out.  It’s about creating a portal which people want to come back to as your guestIt’s also about Attraction and the fine line between being Open & Engaging while repulsing unwanted intruders.  Blocking attempts to Undermine the “sanctity” of an on line environment may prove to be the most pressing and critical issue all networking platforms face in the future.  That is if they want to be profitable. More Cantor in his own words…

“So please stop thinking like you own a database of people. That list of people is there so they can come back and re-log-in. Period” 

In a related post, Marc Canter predicts that: “So 2008 will see a growth in the ability of end-users to freely move between networks – taking their social graphs with them”

With that settled, there are going to be plenty of ways to make money…a lot of money through this medium. It’s going to be a playground for creative thinkers…fortunately, there’s not shortage of them.  Some ideas mentioned on People Aggregators which I appreciated include: (my personal thoughts follow the Bold print)

Sponsorship Deals: Definitely used effectively by Active Rain and other platforms.  But, I think this will be an avenue that individual bloggers explore more extensively in 2008.

Premium Pricing:  Different levels of usage and support on a tiered pricing structure.  For a blogger, this could mean offering readers additional access to certain articles or groups.

Setting Up A Marketplace:  Once again, the Active Rain platform is well ahead of the curve by providing the Referral Network option.  Of course, the monitoring of entries is crucial to ensure that this continues to provide benefit to potential users.  But, this is also an avenue which can be explored by an individual blogger with users who access their niche.  It creates Value and more importantly repeat business.

I can definitely appreciate the huge potential benefits to Open ID.  As more people engage in the blogosphere there will be increased differentiation and specialization…not less.  We can witness this happening with the explosion of groups on the Active Rain platform.  I think it’s only a matter of time before the burden of remembering who you are on which network with any one of a dozen passwords becomes more tedium than the average consumer will consent to suffer.

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2 thoughts on “How Open Are Things Going To Get…Calculating Value in A Social Network?

  1. Alan, I agree with your assessment of Marc Cantor as an industry innovator. In researching for this blog, I read a number of pieces and am impressed by how forward thinking his insights are. Very relevant reading for anyone interested in the emerging dynamics of the web in my opinion. Thank you for your comment.

  2. Real Estate is one sure place where attention profiles and presence registration is a great fit, if the business models are friendly to the site visitors. This is, I think, what Marc is getting at.

    Similarly, technical product service is a natural for open social networks that are designed for experts to not only share the who, but the what of my business and skill sets.

    Mr. Canter is one the enduring innovators and ‘step ahead’ thinkers in whatever technology comes to the fore. I was around in the early 90’s when he busted open the cross platform multimedia business. He influenced me during my work in dragging technical publishing, kicking and screaming, into interactive.

    We owe him – but I believe that (a guess) that all he needs is time and a level playing field to bust open the currently very unsettled social network debacle.

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