I posted a comment over in Scobles blog about a social symposium comming up. Kevin responded to my little bitter rant in his blog. Well first I don’t know if you should consider my response as representative of the community as a whole. I’m pretty out there. 🙂
I do find it interesting that the last 2 (or 3 if you count that foo camp that O’Reilly had) social computing conferences I’ve heard about, they’ve all be invitation only. I’m sure social computing is interesting. I’m sure I’m interested in social software, heck I’ve got a 6 digit ICQ number. I haven’t met many people with a 6 digit ICQ number. My feeling is that, no matter how much research the researchers do or how many focus groups the industry guys hold, the best social computing is user driven.
I guess my point is the best resource that the researchers and industry people have is people, regular people. Rather than trying to build software and guess what the users would like to use they should examine how the current and past tools have been used. Most of the social networking tools that have been put out recently all seem to be geared towards gathering information about the users but not providing a lot back. That’s the problem, I think that social computing is a solution in search of a problem. Before the internet was big, BBS’s performed much of the same functions, but on a smaller scale. Most of the social connections I made through my BBS have persisted through to today. No one designed BBS software to be a social networking too, that came later when people who already knew each other decided to post their friends BBS numbers and decided that they wanted to share their message boards with their friends.
I think that the successful social software of the future will be:
- allow for easy exchange of data elements common to people
- built in to a tool that people use every day
- be entirely user drive. No FOAF, no automatic inclusion, you add the people that you want to add.
- work on a local rather than national or global level
- a big surprise to everyone
- have absolutely no business model