Wednesday, September 24, 2003

More on FOAF a.k.a. nodes in Social Networking Software
linkname: moreonodes

This note is in response to the short article by Marc Cantor in AlwaysOn, "Social Networking as a Bubble".

For most social networking, once you are more than 1 degree away from a target, the whole thing gets pretty silly. That is, it makes sense for a colleague to introduce two people that s/he knows (you are A, your colleague is B, B knows colleague C and introduces A to C ), but little sense or A be introduced by C to colleague D (where D is a colleague of C but not of B or A).

There are 3 types of items that can be passed up and down a social network: physical items, information, and introductions. A three dimensional matrix can be built of these three items vs. node motivation & need for closure of feedback loop. If the node is not motivated, nothing will happen despite a million links between that node and the other nodes. If a feedback loop is needed it doesn't matter how many nodes the item successfully passes thru but only whether the first node, who initiated the activity, ever gets a response.


  • Physical item - example is a virus of an infectious disease. Nodes are all powerfully motivated by natural selection (that is, the virus is designed to infect others), but no feedback loop is necessary.
  • Information item - example is salesperson wants contact info for target customer. Nodes need to be given a reason for motivation (reputation enhancement could be a motivator), and it is essential that once the node with the information is discovered, the feedback to the initiating node is completed.
  • Introductions - example is a job reference. Introducing node must be 0 degrees away from one introducee, and 0 or 1 degree away from the other introducee.

Continuation is here:

I was actually on the panel at Stanford on 9/16/03 that Marc refers to when he writes "Tony Perkins - went on and on on Tuesday night (9/16/03) about how social networking had the feel of a new bubble. He was basing this conjecture on the # of VCs in the audience - all there to hear Reid Hoffman, Ross Mayfield, Jonathan Abrams et al spiel on about their various ventures." Since I am not named as the one other panelist, I must be the "et al".

At the event, I did make a few comments, one was about use of social networks for introductions which I will repeat here. I belong to several of these commercial but experimental web-based social networking systems*. Recently, thru one of these systems, I was contacted by someone I didn't know, and asked to make an introduction to someone else I didn't know. While it's true that both of these people's email addresses were in the 18,000 unique addresses in my Outlook database, I still didn't know them, and the two people were surely better off going directly to each other.

*Note: in my organization we are creating our own web-based social networking capability but it's a simple element of a tapestry that a person creates regarding who they are in the context of being a member of a professional guild. We are also building it out of free services with no software development, no licensing fees, and no hosting or IT expenses. You can find out more about us here: Software Product Marketing eGroup and here: ResumeBlog(TM).

No comments: