Get it All
Together has a great article in it about the problems associated with what are the most popular social networking sites out there, Facebook and MySpace:

Slap in the Facebook: It’s Time for Social Networks to Open Up

Social networks like Facebook and MySpace are taking the web by storm because they make it easy to manage your personal data and keep in touch with people you know. But to get value out, you have to put something in — photos, contacts, appointments, lists of your interests and your blog musings.

Therein lies the rub. When entering data into Facebook, you’re sending it on a one-way trip. Want to show somebody a video or a picture you posted to your profile? Unless they also have an account, they can’t see it. Your pictures, videos and everything else is stranded in a walled garden, cut off from the rest of the web.

I use both services to promote my main website.  This is largely out of necessity, inasmuch as both services provide quick and easy ways to reach people in my target audience (young, liberal and living in Rochester, NY).  But the one-way communication that they present is only part of the problem.

With MySpace, it seems relatively inexperienced and unprepared techs put the site together without planning for the future.  When MySpace bloomed out of control, they started shutting down the ability to incorporate your own stuff because they can’t seem to control all the spam.  Rather than deal with spam directly, they restrict user’s ability to embed Flash, JavaScript or even a large swath of HTML into their own spaces.  Despite having made a play for musicians, comedians and politicians all to spend their time on MySpace and get the message out, MySpace’s engineers have done nothing whatsoever to help people using those services effectively manage their “friends.”

I mean, what is the point of inviting your entire 1000-person friends list to a concert in Buffalo if only twenty people on your list live in the Buffalo area?

My current experiments in WordPress MU land are directed at creating something social like MySpace, only social enough that you can do what you like with it.  I’m creating a site to allow users to blog on issues concerning Rochester, NY, each on their own private blogs, and then give them the option to rate other people’s blog articles to allow the most popular content to reach the top of the front page.  I’m also working on having “featured bloggers,” those being people of interest in the various content areas of the site that get their stuff featured throughout.

Many of the experiments happening on this site happen for the sake of the other.  Hopefully, if all goes well, people in Rochester will have something worth talking about and a model to be emulated elsewhere.

I’m wondering what XFN plugins are available for WordPress and what they do.  Perhaps with a little bit of thought, I might come up with one of my own. . . .

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