How to Make the Web More Social

Google’s Joe Kraus (ex JotSpot) got interviewed by Wharton Business School’s Kevin Werbach on How to Make the Web More Social, here’s the mp3.

Joe Kraus, director of product management at Google, believes every killer app on the web — instant messaging, e-mail, blogging, photo-sharing — has succeeded because it helps people connect with one another. For Kraus, this means the Internet has an inherently social character, but it can be enhanced further. Wharton legal studies professor Kevin Werbach spoke with Kraus recently about the socialization of the Internet. Kraus will speak about social computing at the Supernova conference in San Francisco on June 16.

re:publica 08 – people make the difference

re:publica ist zumindest für mich (fast) vorbei – viele Vorträge und Workshops (die ich zum Teil ausfallen lassen musste) und Gespräche von wenigen Worten bis zu mehreren Stunden (sic!). Danke an Alex, Alexa, Andi, Andrea, Andreas, Anton, Basti, @Bosch, Christoph, Christian, Connie, Cven, Eric, Frank, Frank, Frederic, Henning, Holm, Jaqueline, Jan, Joe, Jörn, Kosmar, Matias, Mike, Norbert, Nicole, Oliver, Patrick, Peter, Peter, Sascha, Sebastian, Silke, Stefan, Stefan, Stefan, Tea, Tim, Tim, Tino, Tobias, viele viele andere und natürlich Markus und Johnnie fürs Organisieren.

Euan Semple @ E20Summit

Now Euan Semple on the “Quiet Revolution” at the BBC and what they did at the BBC about 6yrs back. BBC’s cool, check out Backstage for a start of what they’re doing, see also Ian Forrester.

He starts off with the cluetrain, the power of relationships that’s underlying.

Tells us how troubleshooting and “helpdesk stuff” was handled in the BBC then, it was clear that they needed a way for users to find the needed information by themselves … when sharing knowledge via Email is cumbersome, distributed replies etc. make it difficult to compile and refactor “answers”

– the collective space (“Connect”) that they devised was a lightweight and very usable platform
– fostering communities leveraged existing informal communities, users were allowed to introduce their own spaces

Euan likes the term “interest group” more – as opposed to community – I can understand this, communities can’t be engineered and “ordered for”, yet they emerge around common interests and tasks.

– they added blogs to the mix, Euan shortly points out the often overlooked little things (permalinks for a start)
– wikis too, example BBC blogging guidelines, done with a Confluence wiki.

Then he diggs into some Web 2.0 tools that are in the mix too, like
– RSS readers
– tagging too, explains the rationale behind tag clouds (“a more organic way of navigation information”), mentions Thomas Vanderwal too …
– social networks as “information mediaries”, showing his page and stream of played music, then Plazes too.

With the closing slides he’s putting on speed again, showing Innocentive open innovation network and Zopa p2p lending before leaving the stage to Jeff Schick of IBM.

What is OpenSocial? Yes, it’s a business model innovation

There’s a myriad of posts on OpenSocial already and I know that I’m a latecomer to the party. Yet I will try to put down some observations and notes, if only because this has rattled the plans for my planned BarCamp session this weekend. I have to update my slide deck now, thanks Google. OK, most of the stuff I’ve written before remains valid and/or got valified through this move (see e.g. Portable soziale Netzwerke, and my post on NoseRub, german posts also touching on big hairy questions like privacy of data).

Some observations from a strategic / business point of view:

  • Google is proposing an open approach with the goal of integrating a variety of networks – they are not building up yet another social network. This is a platform approach, not a product or services innovation.
  • And this is also a cool business model innovation move – Google is opening up the social networking space to the many developers outside with a standard platform, i.e. they have learned the Facebook lesson and expanded on it – turning the table for Facebook in effect. Now who’s leading the charge in the web OS game …
  • Google understands that there’s more value to be gained from a shared ecosystem and from the long tail of distributed communities, than from a walled garden even if it’s big. There’s no need for an one and for all über-network, but for an easy way to integrate the many existing social networking sites (and communities of people in fact).

Nice before/after picture:


Some snippets (via Richard MacManus, …):

OpenSocial is not a social network itself, rather it is a set of three common APIs that allow developers to access the following core functions and information at social networks:

* Profile Information (user data)
* Friends Information (social graph)
* Activities (things that happen, News Feed type stuff)

For developers there are lots of benefits. They can build an app that easily works across all the OpenSocial partners. And they can use normal HTML, Javascript and Flash – instead of the proprietary languages Facebook forces developers to use.

You may also check out the Google guys view on all this, here at the all new OpenSocial API blog (“The web is better when it’s social“)

Then, for those with more time on their hands there’s also this one-hour explanatory video:

And here’s a little video by Marc Andreesen of Ning explaining the concept of container and apps:

Find more screencasts like this on Ning Network Creators

Interested in more analyses? Go visit Techmeme and bring lots of time. Or take my short list of cool posts, starting with Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester (“Explaining OpenSocial to your Executives”), this is a good short status report, short excerpt:

What is Open Social?

Google says: “OpenSocial provides a common set of APIs for social applications across multiple websites. With standard JavaScript and HTML, developers can create apps that access a social network’s friends and update feeds.”

Translation: Social Networks, and other websites (we can call them platforms or containers) can let mini-websites (applications or widgets) to be shared and interact with existing online communities (social networks, social graphs, communities).

Jeremiah also expands on the opportunities this offers, namely in the community building space (Efficient development, harness existing communities, open standards help long term, your existing applications become social, future brings social to your website). Recommended analysis, gets you up to speed quick.

Then there’s Anil Dash of Six Apart (“OpenSocial, Killer Apps and Regular People”), on why the opened social graph can help people in their networked lifes:

This gives regular people on the web more control over the social networks and applications they use.

Interesting times ahead.

A critical analysis of Social Graphs (and some learnings for social networks in the Enterprise)

There’s a critical analysis of the recent Facebook craze here in the Economist, arguing along solid economical reasons ….

There’s less to Facebook and other social networks than meets the eye
[…] the future of social networking will not be one big social graph but instead myriad small communities on the internet to replicate the millions that exist offline. No single company, therefore, can capture the social graph

This article also holds some learnings for the design of social network infrastructure in the enterprise, but the one above is central in my mind: You better start with the individual knowledge worker that is embedded in small communities of practice – and provide the means for a range of networks, organizational settings and “blended arrangements”, i.e. allowing for diverse mixtures of real-life and virtual networking.

After all, this is what McAfee’s SLATES concept calls for – emergent, freeform collaboration, i.e. letting the communities and networks evolve and emerge from the factual interactions and work practices.

And yes, the importance of small networks and platforms to support them could also be discussed from a business model innovation perspective, well at least for “people who are interested in how Social Networks will play out“, especially in the NGO- and nonprofit-space (more on the upcoming NGO-BarCamp).

In-House Social Networks

Weil ich gestern abend im Rahmen des Socializing nach dem Webmontag dazu gefragt worden bin – ja, auch das ist ein Aspekt und eine Arena für Enterprise 2.0. Heather Green in BusinessWeek Online zu In-House Social Networks:

With a nod to Facebook, large companies now have the virtual equivalent of the water cooler on the Web.

Interessanter Artikel, u.a.

Executives have legitimate concerns about spending time and money on something that could be just the latest techno flavor of the week. Remember knowledge management software? That product [nun ja, MK], designed to handle a lot of the same tasks as today’s corporate social networks, was one of the hot buzzwords of the late 1990s. […]

Nun ja, auch Communities of Practice und Soziale Netzwerke in Unternehmen sind keine neue Idee, auch wirken quasi “zeitlose” Erfolgsfaktoren (wie bspw. geteilte Vorhaben, Ziele etc). Aus meiner Sicht besteht dennoch ein Vorteil dieser neuen Plattformen darin, dass informelle, soziale Prozesse (im Idealfall umfassend) unterstützt werden und neue Funktionalitäten wie bspw. Scanning und Exploring hinzukommen, die der berühmte Wasserkühler nicht bieten kann.

Interessanterweise waren gerade informelle soziale Netzwerke im Wissensmanagement ein immer wiederkehrendes Thema in meinen Diskussionen rund um den Bangkok Workshop zu Knowledge Management Implementation: Wissen wird so bspw. in Japan noch hauptsächlich in direktem persönlichem Kontakt (und natürlich nicht nur während der Arbeitszeit sondern auch bei gemeinsamen Drinks nach der Arbeit etc.) weitergegeben. Die Chancen diesen Prozess der Vermittlung impliziten Wissens durch Social Software zu unterstützen wurden von den Teilnehmern eher kritisch gesehen, auch weil andere Prinzipien wie das Senioritätsprinzip bremsend wirken. Mehr dazu vielleicht morgen am WikiWednesday Stuttgart