Perspective: We Need a Social Aggregator – of Sorts

With my recent decision to quit Facebook still fresh on my mind, and my growing interest in what Diaspora is doing, I thought I would write about my thoughts on the social networking landscape. I was pretty slow to the party with Facebook, and early to MySpace, which shows you just how wrong I was.

I have never used either service extensively, meaning I mostly use those services to contact old friends (I usually just grab their email and email them) and to look at pictures of people and what they did, or are doing. I have never used it to regularly post updates, I used to post pictures until Facebook decided that they get the rights to them.

So now that I am a short time away from leaving Facebook (June 13th, 2010), the question for me now becomes: What do I want from a social network – in an ideal world?

What I don’t Want

I have found that they best way to tackle the problem of what you do want, is to start by figuring out what you don’t want.

I don’t want…

    …to be poked.
    …to have easter eggs hidden on my wall.
    …to be assassinated.
    …to feel obligated to ‘friend’ someone.
    …to not be able to know who can see my information.

So that is a pretty basic look at what I don’t want. So what do I want?

What I Want

I want…

    …to be in control of every aspect of privacy.
    …to be in charge of my own data if I so choose.
    …to be in charge of my own design, though not like MySpace.
    …to be free.

How to Do It

This is the real trick, I would like to see something super simple, like Tumblr. Imagine you create a new profile with this new service, we will call it servicename, and you can create a profile at yourname.servicename.com, or you can buy a domain directly from servicename, or add one you already have – much like how Tumblr currently works.

Non-tech users then have a simple site with all the features at yourname.servicename.com, more advanced users have yourname.com that is hosted by servicename, and expert users have yourname.com hosted on their own servers. Therefore you can keep all your own data on your own server if you want – yet be linked into the entire network of servicename.

The service then becomes a hybrid Tumblr/Wordpress type system, super easy to setup and yet vastly powerful. This system would forgo building its own update system and photo hosting, instead it would pull this data from sites of your choosing, such as:

  • Blogs
  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • Picassa
  • Digg

All we are doing is aggregating the data, presenting it nicely and cleanly. And allowing people that we tell the service are our friends to be able to find the data. We then setup a system whereby it makes it easier for classmates and coworkers to find each other, simply by looking at past schooling attendance and employer data, pulling the URLs and seeing if they match. If the privacy settings allow you to be searched by strangers this way, then you pop up.

Sounds pretty simple right? It probably isn’t but I would love to see someone try.

Also I know about Friendfeed, that is not what I mean. I have changed my personal landing page site to pull this kind of data – it is currently rudimentary and I am still looking for an iPad friendly way of showing the Flickr stuff, but you will get what I am thinking.

Originally posted for members on: May 20, 2010
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