Here’s an idea that just occurred to me.
The problem with social networks is not their bad software. It’s that you’re bound to their bad software. An additional problem is that you have to sign up and have separate accounts for all your social networking sites, so if you use MySpace, Facebook, LiveJournal, Friendster, etc., you have to have a seperate account on each one, most of which data is replicated (name, location, interests, etc).
What if there was a social networking XML, a simple file generated and read by sites like MySpace and Facebook. In other words, you’d have your account on MySpace and then you’d link your account on Facebook to your MySpace XML and then any changes you made on MySpace would automatically by updated on Facebook (at least if Facebook supported that given field).
What this could lead to is a completely distributed social networking environment, where you can have one profile that is compatible with any system, and a friends list that is universal between them. Then you wouldn’t have to sign up on a million sites, you’d just have to point them to your XML file, and suddenly you’d have access to all the members of all the social networking sites and the only advantage of using one over the other would be software. So you’d focus on the site with the software you liked the most and could do social networking with people who preferred other kinds of software.
The trick would be to convince the social networking companies to go for it, since, especially if they have crappy software (ahem, MySpace), it’s not in their interest to give up their monopoly on their users. But from a user perspective, an inter-social-network XML would be infinitely superior to the model we have now.
Just a thought.
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