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Social Network Fatigue and the Missing Web 2.0 Address Book

Jon Udell just wrote a thought-provoking piece about the difficulty of new social networks reaching critical mass, and the obvious fact that there already is an uber-social network at critical mass, if only we can make things interoperate:

Years ago at BYTE Magazine my friend Ben Smith, who was a Unix greybeard even then (now he’s a Unix whitebeard), made a memorable comment that’s always stuck with me. We were in the midst of evaluating a batch of LAN email products. “One of these days,” Ben said in, I think, 1991, “everyone’s going to look up from their little islands of LAN email and see this giant mothership hovering overhead called the Internet.”

 

Increasingly I’ve begun to feel the same way about the various social networks. How many networks can one person join? How many different identities can one person sanely manage? How many different tagging or photo-uploading or friending protocols can one person deal with?

Recently Gary McGraw echoed Ben Smith’s 1991 observation. “People keep asking me to join the LinkedIn network,” he said, “but I’m already part of a network, it’s called the Internet.”

Jon very much echoes my own sentiments. What really needs to be done is not just to connect the various social networks that do exist in internet network-of-networks style, but also to social-network enable our real social network apps: our IM, our email, our phone. Where, I keep asking vendors, is the Web 2.0 address book?

When one of the big communications vendors (email, IM OR phone) gets this right, simply by instrumenting our communications so that the social network becomes visible (and under the control of the user), it seems to me that they could blow away a lot of the existing social network froth. That being said, when I’ve had this conversation with Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, he’s pointed out that he’s well aware of that possibility, and has been working for years to layer additional value on top of the raw social network data. And he’s very right about that.

To use Ben Smith’s analogy about the internet as mother ship: if you were a proprietary LAN vendor trying to fight the internet, it was game over. But if you were a LAN vendor who was on the right bandwagon, you became Cisco.

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  • http://www.ecademy.com Julian Bond

    Interesting that you compare communication methods (IM, Email, Phone) with Social Networks that rarely provide any terribly useful mechanisms for one-to-one, few-to-few communication. If linking SNs means sharing address books, we won’t have achieved very much without also linking communication methods.

    You might ask a similar question about the blog, blog-comment world. We really haven’t solved the problem of holding a group discussion that’s spread across 10 blogs, let alone 100 or a 1000. This is comparatively simple in the email world (mod spam) but mailing lists have their own etiquette problems, leading them to fall apart as well.

    Then we have the problem of a lack of agreement on what constitutes an address entry and how to transport it from one place to another.

    Without communication, Address Book 2.0 is useless. Without a little more agreement on what constitutes an address, it ain’t going to happen.

  • peter

    Yes its Called OpenID

  • http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

    peter — OpenID is a start, but I don’t consider it the Web 2.0 address book. Here’s what I’m talking about: an address book for my phone that remembers everyone I call, and everyone who calls me, and syncs with my email, which remembers every email I send and receive, and an IM client ditto — and that uses Google-like heuristics to help me figure out who I want. And then uses P2P and various trust metrics to help me find people who are not in my immediate communication orbit.

    I mean, how often do you search through your email to find the email address or phone number of someone you communicate with but just didn’t happen to tell your address book explicitly to remember?

    So now start imagining this “real” social network, as expressed by our communication tools and captured in our personal address book, starting to be overlaid with everything else we know about ourselves and our contacts — their photo stream, their blog, etc. Imagine Nat Friedman’s dashboard (I wish that were still progressing) in the sidebar of any communication app, reminding us of the latest to be known about anyone we’re communicating with.

    I could go on and on. Add in Seth Goldstein’s attention recorder and ideas from mybloglog, a dash of Microsoft Wallop, and Gordon Bell’s mylifebits.

    OpenID is perhaps a necessary precursor, but it is far from the Web 2.0 address book. That would be the glue that tied together all our communication apps with our various expressions of self. A system and network service that could be used by any communications app.

  • http://destructuring.net Jonathan Vanasco

    I’ve spent the better part of the past year stabbing at this situation for my own startup, FindMeOn.com — where we try to provide identity syndication services for users+developers, map out inter-network connections, and leverage those connections and personalities onto online destinations. ( in short, a chunk of what you described is in public and private beta )

    Personally speaking, I don’t think that the heart of the problem is people agreeing on what an address or identity is– I think the issue is that so much restraint on pursuing a solution comes from the corporate and marketing sectors of the service providers.

    Social network and online service providers , for the most part , do not want to make it easier for people to leverage their aggregate identities , services and personalities against one another – they simply don’t want to risk giving up a user for the briefest moment of time. Most providers aim for the Yahoo style destination site – instead of focusing on their core technologies and ideas, they want to be the supreme destination for every service imaginable — even if that service is abysmally bad. Every hook “in” for new technology from the ‘real social network’ is a potential hook “out” from their good or service — and in an ad based economy that just isn’t acceptable.

    Trying to convince someone that embracing technology that could lose 10 users — but will also gain them 40 just doesn’t work. Developers get the concept, pundits love the concept, but then you get to the tier of MBAs for approval — they’ll only consider it if they see a gain of 40 for a loss of 0.

  • http://dev.aol.com/blog/kevinfarnham/web-20-the-seminal-the-machine-the-missing Kevin Farnham

    It’s interesting that Web 2.0 and social networks suddenly seem to be reminding people of the early days of the Internet.

    The Number 1 video in the “blogosphere” right now is Michael Wesch’s “Web 2.0 … The Machine Is Us/ing Us” (hosted on YouTube), which starts out with pen and paper and proceeds up to today.

    My name below links to a blog post I wrote today about this blog post (apologies, we have no trackback feature yet!), Wesch’s video, and a VC’s blog about “the Seminal Web 2.0 Service.”

    It’s been a remarkably interesting afternoon of browsing the Web (and writing about it!)

  • venki iyer

    Yeah – been there, talked about it – the biggest problem I saw when I dove into this about 12-14 months ago was that address books are plumbing – and it is not a web thing, 2.x or even 5.x, it is something that gets baked into every device that is shipped – think Outlook, think Evolution, think email and phone logs on crackberries, phones, etc.

    Given the ubiquity of IM clients and their starting to bundle voice capabilities, it seemed (well, at the time) that IM clients were the perfect platform for such a thing – haven’t seen anything yet on the consumer side, though I’m sure the big corporate IM vendors are all experimenting with such capabilities.

    Can you build a server version of such a device, for each type of device and market? Possibly, yes, but a TLA and the GORG have a pretty significant head-start there, it seems …

  • venki iyer

    Forgot to add – merging address books and broad communication capabilities esp. on the portable/handheld platforms has seemed to be an idea that should have been implemented so long ago I assume everyone else takes this requirement for granted.

  • http://www.meetmoi.com/1/meetmoi/welcome?k=blog Derek

    these guys have hit on something interesting.. a completely location based mobile dating service.. you text your address in and it give you hits of people who are close to you.. much more spontaneous than match or eharmony

    MeetMoi.com

  • http://www.paloalto.com Kin Lane

    Will API’s, Mobile Devices and Standards tame the social networks? Maybe will a little innovation we’ll see things clean up.

  • http://pop-pr.blogspot.com Jeremy Pepper

    It’s not OpenID – that is way too difficult for the masses, and why I rarely use Zooomr.

    Maybe it’s services like Jangl, Meebo, Jaxtr or Lijit, but there has to be a way for the layman to use it. My parents need to be able to use it for it to be mass adoption.

  • http://www.livedigitally.com Jeremy Toeman

    Between Plaxo and LinkedIn, all my contacts come with me from PC to PC, and are easily importable into Outlook. Whenever I visit a new site that leverages contacts, e.g. Evite, it has an ‘import from Outlook’ option. I don’t think this is really a problem at all, just another “opportunity” to create yet another service people should go sign up for…

    Also, regarding the comment about parents using it for mass adoption – not really. Not many of our parents are going to sign up to social networks anytime soon, nor do most really care about half the services our generation tries out…

  • steve

    This problem was obvious right from the start, which is why I still don’t have any accounts on any social networking sites anywhere. That’s right, no Gmail, no Flickr, nothing at all.

    I continue to keep all my data on my own computer, and I’m waiting for the correct solution before I bother. That solution is to have a crypto key as your randomised and disposable identity, and to share data out from your own repository.

    It is not a good idea at all to have other people serve as your online presence. It is you, so it should be you.

  • http://pop-pr.blogspot.com Jeremy Pepper

    Disagree Jeremy (Toeman, not myself). You sit on the phone with an 80-year old grandmother who is trying to join an online site to see photos and print them, and work her through the process.

    It’s wrong to disregard some communities just because they don’t get it. It’s the same reason we tend to look our nose down on AOL and other services, because it’s not for us, it’s for THEM.

  • http://mndoci.com Deepak

    This issue of aggregate identity is probably going to become one of the central problems/challenges/opportunities (take your pick) of these new web worlds. I don’t mind joining different networks. That’s where OpenID comes in. Now from there I want to be able to communicate across networks. The question I have is this. Do we have the necessary communication and information exchange protocols and standards in place? I suspect we do but people are not quite using them.

  • http://benmetcalfe.com/blog/ Ben Metcalfe

    I actually wonder how many people do want their identities all linked up in the way described by Tim.

    As practitioners of social media and uber-logical people it’s in our nature to want to bound it all together. And maybe the reasons we use social media, and the way we use social media suggests ‘joining it all together makes sense’.

    But many people who use MySpace or BeBo or Hi5 don’t actually keep their account forever (see danah boyd’s studies). For many it’s because they don’t see any value in persisting a single identity across *one* social network, let alone multiples.

    Many people also want to keep their personal life and professional life separate. I don’t have a MySpace/Bebo/Hi5/etc account, but if I did I know there’s no way I’d want it to have any semantic join with my LinkedIn profile.

    My wife (who is not technical and ‘just a normal use’) actually does everything she can to ensure her online life is kept separate – registering different user names at each site and blogging under a different name again. She has nothing to hide – she just doesn’t what the whole world to be able to grok everything online about her via a common username.

    Most of the people reading this post probably don’t have crazy private lives that they live out on the ‘social’ social networks – but many do. And it’s yet-another example of where our own uses of these things are often a-typical of the mainstream.

    I wonder whether we should first be investigating whether the wider public actually want to link everything up together before we go cutting this new path into bold new territory? Despite the fact that it maybe the *logical* thing to do, I’m not sure they do.

  • http://mndoci.com Deepak

    Ben,

    Good point. Any ideal implementation should include the ability to identify yourself to whom you want to and how you want to (multiple avatars .. probably too vague for most). It’s one of the things I like about Vox. My parents get to see stuff that no one else does.

  • Tom

    What the real problem is, is that a lot of us indeed are fed up with joining 2, 3, 4 or more so called ‘networks’ and as such need 2 or 3 applications open on there computers while trying to do some real work, for instance, I have friends using MSN to interact, I have others using iChat and still others using ICQ, even more using just plain email [really my alltime favorite] and few who just call me when needed. Now wouldn’t it be great if all these programma’s could be combined into one? If just one program, say iChat in this example, would be compatible with all the messaging-protocols? Wow, I would love that!

  • http://www.livedigitally.com Jeremy Toeman

    First, I’ve actually built products for the masses, numerous times, with success.

    Second, I think it is ridiculous to use the example of an 80-year-old grandmother who wants to “join” a community. I am a Flickr member. I have a 93-year-old grandmother, with whom I email. When I want her to see a picture, I send her the link, I don’t tell her to “Register”. It’s a waste of both our times. This argument is the same type of thinking that gets companies to spend tons of money chasing ghost users.

    The reality is: the amount of effort it takes to get the wide masses to do anything is simply ineffective. Pick a target community, go after them. The wider your target, the worse you will do, every time.

    Finally, while it may be in all of our best interests to have all IM and identities and usernames and everything be conjoined, it’s probably NOT in the interests of most of the providers of those services. Sure, it’d be nice, but again, it’s not realistic. I’d like free software, content, computers, and cars while we’re at it, but that ain’t gonna happen either.

  • http://www.danshub.com Dan W

    You might be interested in a post about Address Book 2.0 over at Vecosys: http://www.vecosys.com/2007/02/12/address-book-20-is-getting-closer/

  • http://www.burnertrouble.com Martin Edic

    I think the essence of this discussion is public vs. private personas. Our public personas are accessible via our blogs, our linkedin profiles, etc. Our private personas are those we share one on one with others, i.e. ‘personal email’ addresses. Why not offer a service that provides a ‘public persona’ ID via a unique tag (oops, we really don’t need another URL, do we?)?
    In any case we’re eventually all going to be carrying RFIDs so their sig will become our defacto public persona…urggh!

  • http://deepfreeze9.blogspot.com Pierre de Vries

    Interop will be key, and so will dealing with the attributes of digital artifacts that make them hard to deal with given our innate cognitive endowment. Scale (“How many different identities can one person sanely manage?”) and opacity (“When one of the big communications vendors … gets this right [by arranging things such] that the social network becomes visible”) are two of them; others include persistence, findability, and mutability.

  • http://mugshot.org Donald

    Tim,

    Take a look at Mugshot, a project at Red Hat. Mugshot is a 100% open source project (both the server side and optional client software) that bridges popular online apps and services so you can keep up with everything your contacts are doing in one place.

    A natural next step would be to make all of the information in the Mugshot database explicily Create Commons licensed, allowing all types of interesting mashups.

    Mugshot is developed by a team including GNOME veterans who are currently working on some ideas regarding the integration of Mugshot social context into the Linux desktop and applications — to your point about surfacing social context information in the apps you use every day.

  • http://www.timothypost.com Timothy Post

    Tim:

    Address Book 1.0:

    The purpose is to capture data about people and organizations with whom we have relationships. While this purpose is fine, it is also limited. We now have relationships with things, places, brands, etc.

    When trying to capture data about these new “records” we are often forced to create new fields. Unfortunately, we quickly start to create some many unique data fields that the database (i.e. address book) becomes unwieldy.

    Not to mention the fact that the very act of inputting data into these hundreds of unique data fields becomes prohibitive.

    What’s the answer? I believe that we need to reverse the model and put the data maintenance back on the counter party in our relationships.

    When I open an account at Hertz Rental Car there are a number of data fields that are custom to the relationship of rental car companies to its customers (e.g. type of car preferred, cities one normally rents from, credit card data on file, etc).

    Were I to try to create custom fields in my MS Outlook or Mac Address Book these unique rental car company fields would not be common to any other records in that database.

    The solution is for Hertz rental car company to package all of this unique data into a web widget (HTML, Javascript, or Flash () and make that widget available to me to save in my address book 2.0.

    We have relationships with thousands of companies, brands, people, services, etc for which we are not presently able to save.

    Take, as an example, all the restaurants you have visited in the past 30 days. Do you have custom records for every single restaurant? Probably not. Do you even have the basic contact info for these restaurants? Maybe, but it is sure a royal pain in the neck to grab the business card and then input that information into your address book 1.0.

    Plus, even if you are meticulous and maintain data about these culinary relationships, chances are that these data records are pretty one-dimensional. Do you list you favorite waiter, table, time to eat, day of the week, favorite appetizer, main dish, etc? Probably not but maybe in the notes. It’s sloppy and a huge chore to maintain.

    What if instead, the restaurant were to design that data records and create all the fields it thought were important. You could go to the website of that restaurant, create an account, populate that account with data about the relationship, and then package all that information into a web widget which you could save in your address book 2.0 (currently most widgets are cut and paste but there are some one-click solutions).

    The “beauty” of this new distributed address book would be that EVERY data records would be unique. An impossibility with current address books.

    How would you find stuff? Why not Google Co-op’s Custom Search Engine (CSE). Each widget would point to a unique URL (the URL for your account with the other party) which Google CSE could search. Your search engine would only search the URLs for your own Address Book.

    When you did a general web wide search there might be an Google Ads which would offer widgets. Say you were looking for do some research on hotels in Rome. Do your Google search and copy/paste the widgets for ROme hotels into your address book. The data would already be entered.

    Even better is that the hotels themselves could update those widgets in real time. Widgets pull data from the hotels database. The hotel could have real time prices customized to the location of the viewer (they know through the IP address).

    In terms of aggregating all your current social networks, each would offer you the ability to create widgets for each relationship on that network. I could “import” (copy/paste or one-click) widgets for all those people on Facebook or MySpace or My Blog Log whom I wanted in my Address Book 2.0

    Once these data record widgets are in my address book they pull data from that person’s account/page on the social network. I would NOT need to do any data cleansing or maintenance myself. The person would be responsible for keeping their own data up to date.

    The maker of the address book would offer tools for creating an aggregate page for those relationships where the other party has multiple widgets.

    So, Tim I think that with developments in web widgets Address Book 2.0 might just become a reality.

    Thanks, Tim Post

  • Chris

    Seen 37signals’ announcement of Highrise? Maybe this is the address book you’ve been looking for.
    http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/265-preview-1-an-introduction-to-highrise-the-product-previously-known-as-sunrise

  • http://blog.tomevslin.com Tom Evslin

    As you imply, it is more likely to be the developers of INTERNET applications – mail, im and phone – than the developers of Web 2.0 applications who will make the next big advance. That’s because the huge audience waiting to be served is existing groups – not Web formed groups. And existing groups, usually local, have different needs than global groups in the process of formation.

    The Web 2.0 service providers have optimised for the global groups – made sense when broadband penetration was too low for the Web to be a primary way for local groups to communicate. And the Web 2.0 service providers optimized for a “viral” marketing strategy based on low cost of entry and initially limited competition.

    That was then. Now the reality is that broadband penetration in the US is great enough for local groups to be served by interactive web applications. And there are too many startups based on a low cost of entry for any but the best connected or luckiest to get to critical mass.

    More on the “Local Web” opportunity at http://blog.tomevslin.com/2007/02/web_20_is_stuck.html

  • http://www.tapahont.info Rfly/Richard

    Hi all

    I think, an answer exists : Ziki.com
    This web2 services permits aggregate profils, IM, skype, content, videos sharing, flickR, adress, n∞.
    Everybody can tag himself.

    Maybe i’ve lost a few point, i’m a french reader and my english isn’t as good as i would like.

  • http://emresokullu.com Emre Sokullu

    Check out Grou.ps

  • Everything

    A natural next step would be to make all of the information in the Mugshot database explicily Create Commons licensed, allowing all types of interesting mashups.

  • http://comp.lifeok.cn LifeOK

    I’d like free software, content, computers, and cars while we’re at it, but that ain’t gonna happen either.

  • http://webandlife.blogspot.com/2007/03/social-networking-web-can-only-assist.html Andy Wong

    It is hard to expect that any publicly available service can possible eliminate abuses by some users. In addition, some users did not use the services through the intended way, for example, linking too many un-trusted buddies, thus getting many requests useless. The true value is based on such assumption: your contacts of the first degree must be trusted, and each of these trusted contacts must follow the same practices, thus you can reach any person reliably across degrees. Social networking sites like Linkedin essentially try to maximize and extend your networking of trusted contacts.

    I wrote about this on my blog in an entry called
    Social”>Social”>Social”>http://webandlife.blogspot.com/2007/03/social-networking-web-can-only-assist.html>Social Networking Web can only assist you, it is you do the networking

  • http://webandlife.blogspot.com Andy Wong

    “Tim O’Reilly [02.11.07 01:24 PM]

    …but I don’t consider it the Web 2.0 address book. Here’s what I’m talking about: an address book for my phone that remembers everyone I call”

    If I make call out and receive through my PC telephony, this is easy. But I also use my normal hand set sometimes, as my wife won’t use PC telephony, and I sometime accidentally pick up the phone for my wife and eventually for me. I also use mobile phone. Obviously, it is impossible to have a single silver bullet to hit such diversification of usage of phone.

    I can think of some solutions though:
    1. Most mobile phones can register calls in and out. So, there need to be a program that can sync the the registered info of calls to my silver bullet address book, in order to merge the records of PC telephony. My handset of landline should be routed to PC telephony. Web 2.0 has nothing to do with this.

    Full comment is at

    Is Web 2.0 Address Book a silver bullet?

  • http://www.cm5onto81.org/trama trama

    Ich erklare meinen Freunden uber diese Seite. Interessieren!

  • http://www.webdesignfromscratch.com Ben Hunt

    Tim, I was working on a similar concept a year back, which is alluded to here, where I predict that Yahoo should be the company to make it happen: http://www.webdesignfromscratch.com/future-social-web-experience.cfm

    It goes further than contact management. It should address search, knowledge, time management, scheduling, security, trust, finance, recreation etc. etc.

    I’d say that Web3 is going to be a place where can allow everything we do & know to be aggregated. But the core concept is Identity, which is why OpenID is so important.

  • http://www.vecosys.com Sam Sethi

    I wrote about Address Book 2.0 in February http://www.vecosys.com/2007/02/12/address-book-20-is-getting-closer/

    And also about bringing it all together with IPALS – identity, presence, attention, location, semantics

    http://www.vecosys.com/2007/04/20/ipals-to-help-manage-information-overload/

  • http://www.techtain.com O.O.

    I think the solution has less to do with the aggregating of all social network platforms and more to do with streamlining virtual identity so as to make every individual recognizable across the web by means of a single unambiguous stamp. MS Passport was ahead of its time. Of course, humans can manage many social networks (Joe can belong to many platforms just as in real life we can actually have many circles of friends). Nonetheless, Joe must remain Joe if he is to last in these circles. Hence, social networking sites are not necessarily doomed; they are only so if we fail to come up with a means of accurately and unambiguously defining every one person. That is to say, we each need a web passport — a uniformly standardized or single profile.

  • http://www.myContactDetails.com/ Wayne Booth

    Web 2.0 address book can be found here:
    http://www.myContactDetails.com/

  • Sadstory

    I did it but nobody funded me and I closed it down before it even launched. boohoo

  • http://tim.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

    Wayne, I don’t think that myContactDetails is what I had in mind. In fact, on its splash screen, it explicitly disclaims what I was looking for, the fusion of the address book and social networking.

  • Robert Dewey

    I know exactly what Tim is talking about, which has given me inspiration for a startup (thanks Tim!).

    Existing communication defines our networks. Whether it’s who we interact with on the web, or who we interact with in real-life (i.e. phone). All of that defines our real network.

    The way social networks have it right now is that you can only communicate with someone if they exist within that particular network. Want to add a connection that doesn’t yet exist? Too bad.

    Social networks place a lot of focus on profiles, while communication is really the heart. Social networks allow you to easily get in touch with people beyond your first-degree; that is, multiple degrees of contacts. E-mail, instant messaging, and mobile communication don’t offer that. They are essentially “one-degreed mediums” – something that will hurt them in the long run (how many people claim e-mail is dying?)

    Address book 2.0 isn’t Plaxo… Plaxo is address book 1.0 brought to the web. It isn’t even LinkedIn, who’s messaging system is built on a closed platform and requires users to really create a profile before it becomes useful. Address book 2.0 is one that shows everyone I talk to via e-mail, IM, phone, etc.. Address book 2.0 allows me to search and select contacts that I need to get in touch with, using OPEN communication. Address book 2.0 doesn’t care if you’re not “in the grid”, because it’s ad-hoc and others can input you.

    This is what address 2.0 should look like: http://datamining.typepad.com/data_mining/images/vizster.png

  • Robert Dewey

    Hmm… apparently I didn’t need to use html tags :)

  • http://radar.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

    Robert –

    So point us to your startup?

    I do have to say, though, that I’m not convinced that network graph diagrams will be that useful. They rapidly become so big as to be meaningless. What you need to do is to calculate information based on the graph, but you don’t need to show it.

  • Robert Dewey

    You’re right, Tim. On a larger scale, that visualization is useless… but just like a family tree, it’s pretty useful for connections up to three degrees away.

    Calculating things with the grid would be pretty interesting. For example, if a Wiki route was taken, users would be able to tag themselves and first-degree connections as they define relationships. So if I need to get in touch with a lawyer, I can find one who is closest to my network.

    The initial idea was a cross between Geni and XFN. In other words, you can add your connections, and those connections can continue the tree structure. If the interest is high, other tools could be developed to further analyze relationships via communication (i.e. mobile application, API’s for e-mail services, etc).

    XFN-like tags really come into play for those who interact or produce a lot of content (i.e. blogs or personal web pages with outbound and inbound links). Unlike XFN, the system analyzes interaction between these tags and pushes networks closer together.

    The startup is still early so it’s hard to say for certain where it will go (or if it will even be successful). But being so early, I can’t provide a URL with any sort of demonstration.

    Best Regards,

    Robert

  • http://innoWiser.com/blog Atul

    Tim,

    Excellent post. Indeed social networking fatigue seems to have been on the minds of several folks.
    For more than 2 years I had a Facebook account, but didn’t do anything with it. Only in the last 6 months or so have I started using it. and looks like it’s everywhere in mainstream media.

    I think the problems with Social Networking Fatigue run deeper than the contacts/address books. I’ve listed a few of them here:

    http://innowiser.com/blog/2007/08/31/unsocial-networking-social-networking-and-diminishing-returns/

    I do think that connections (using platform APIs) between the hitherto isolated social networks will lead to a more connected, bigger network.. but then isn’t it gravitating towards the Mothership (aka Internet)?

    Cheers,
    -atul

  • http://knightnewschallenge.wordpress.com Jacqueline

    Count me in as another person who wants my social networks to be networked – or more prosaically, some kind of Open ID system that links everything. By the way, does anyone honestly think that we can stay anonymous on the internet? I mean, kudos to those who manage to do it and still participate in lots of networks and discussions, but that just seems implausible to me. Also, one of the reasons that Facebook has been regarded so highly is that everyone has to use their real names, therefore cutting down on spam and such, no?

    Anyways, I think another aspect of social network fatigue stems from the fact that the web has allowed us all to be more connected than ever before, we’re feeling disconnected from our actual neighbors and local communities. I could see new developments on the web leaning towards localism and hyperlocalism – connecting people who live near one another and can work together/meet in real life (or first life, for the hardcore geeks).

    If you have ideas or startups that are related to my last few statements, you really should click the link in my name or go to http://newschallenge.org and check it out – the Knight Foundation is holding a contest and you could win funding!

  • http://plan-b-for-openoffice.org/ Conficio

    I really do not see any use in an ueber social networking tool that monitors all my communication.

    Aren’t we looking at two different issues:
    * The ability to record all communication points for central retreval, so I do not have to remember how, when and with what service I did communicate with a particular partner. Sure this would be a useful thing. Give me an XMl stream of all contacts I had over the phone, e-mail, IM, blog, etc. and mesh them for me (or allow me to mesh them from my personal knowledge and the lack of public info that phone number X and e-mail Y and blog Z are all the same contact).
    * Social networks that connect me to “my friends.” and their inability to interoperate. Meaning I can’t post a message to a group of friends that is spread out over multiple services.

    Well the solution is in both cases a protocol for interoperability a la RSS/ATOM and not an ueber service. But this goes against the self interest of networks, who try to grow theri membership. Or does it?

  • http://pcadviceus.blogspot.com shashib

    Along with this there should be a app that automatically lets you know if the email doesnt exist and gets rid of dupes.

  • http://www.faradaymedia.com Chris Saad

    Tim, you might like to check out DataPortability.org – you are welcome to join the workgroup if you like – just drop me a line.

  • http://www.reachcards.com/ Erik Starck

    Keep your eyes on Reachcards.com. We’re building what we’re calling the “business card 2.0″, which is a connected and ‘alive’ card with a human friendly URL and built in communication services (voice, SMS, email, IM etc). Collecting the cards of your friends will in essence bring you your address book 2.0.

  • http://lamediahostia.blogspot.com/ Ismael Valladolid Torres

    «Enrique Dans habla sobre que Internet es la red social. Tim O’Reilly ya había escrito un inspirador artículo sobre el tema hace unas semanas.»

    La media hostia: La libreta de direcciones perdida de la web 2.0

  • Kevin Neverdal

    Just want to share with you my experience with a social networking site. The founder of ECPod contacted me one day and asked me to join his website where the community gather to teach each other language and share knowledge. I did and had some fun getting to know the people on the site. Interestingly I met a lovely girl on the site and we started chatting very regularly…. and lately we met up in Beijing and guess what? She is my girlfriend now… I am so happy and I finally for once have a good experience with a social networking site. I am in touch with the founder now and I promised him i will do my best to help tell more people about his website… So guys, I am keeping my promise now… Please go to http://www.ecpod.com

  • http://www.ripplex.com Samir Patel

    I think the most important things I want in my web 2.0 address book are:

    (A) Privacy — My address book is my personal property where I may keep my personal information and some notes about my contacts besides all their contact information.

    (B) Ability to link with my friends so that when they update their contact information or simply want to let me know a different, more preferred way of contacting them in the future, my address book should simply get updated – no need for him to send me such information by email or phone and no need for me to hand enter it in my email.

    (C) Address Book should store contact information for all communication channels, not only emails, address, phone number but various internet IDs, e.g. SNS IDs, chat IDs and so on. Also, I should be able to start as many services as possible from my address book itself instead of going into a particular service and then start connecting/contacting with a friend.

    (D) Ideally, my address book should not be buried and scattered within various tools and devices I use but should be available to me in all devices of communication, automatically synchronizing between all such devices and letting me know all possible ways of connecting with a friend, even the ones that I have not subscribed to, yet.

    Is there an Address Book like that?

    We at Ripplex have built an address book that comes fairly close to what I have described above. The main characteristic of this address book is that none of your information (other than one registered email) is revealed to Ripplex Inc. so all your information remains completely private and confidential — accessible only to you and to whom you disclose your information. None of your information is accessible to any third party!

    Ripplex address book is free client software that can be downloaded from http://www.ripplex.com. It strives to be the ideal address book for this day and age by addressing to the points mentioned above. It also has many other interesting features, e.g. an ability to share part of your address book with group members, ability to share your information in more than one language and receive all information but with a priority set for different languages etc. We are constantly adding features and making it more and more user friendly, so your feedback is very valuable to us. You can give the feedback by clicking on Feedback button on our home page.

    Please give it a try! Feel free to sent me your feedback on this forum. Thanks.

  • http://shonzilla.tumblr.com Shonzilla

    Web 2.0 address book has arrived – it’s called ZYB.
    http://zyb.com

    It supports SyncML for OTA (over the air) address book synchronization. You can invite to ZYB any of your contacts and ZYB will send an SMS invitation in your “name”, i.e. your number is the sender. As they register, your contacts in the mobile phone become your contacts inside ZYB social networking site which is currently simple and should probably stay so.

    Cheers!
    Shonzilla

  • Steve Gerter

    That’s what the INTERNET is for. Not some private app.

  • http://brokensymmetry.typepad.com Michael F. Martin

    I will be the party pooper. We don’t need a Web 2.0 address book. Our social networks are not unitary. We are (like Whitman) contain multitudes. We need a web 2.0 address book for each social network that we join (or want to join), but I don’t think we need or want a single web-enabled address book that combines our contact info for every social network that we join (or want to join).

    I could be wrong, but the fact that there already exist some very good apps for particular domains (Xobni for Outlook, for example) suggests not.

    Think about how people interact offline — how much place and atmosphere determine the social network and its dynamics — and you’ll begin to be as skeptical as I am about the push for a unitary social network online.

  • http://www.posttude.com richard abas

    There are 4 billion people on earth without an address.

    The Universal Postal Union (www.UPU.int) is ralllying support to develop systems and standards to assist the bulk of mankind that cannot be sent a letter or have basic items like bank accounts and passports.

    Rethinking address requires new innovative concepts borrowed from web 2.0 and internet protocols.

    This is my attempt:

    My presentation in Copenhagen, October 2010, Post Expo
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pAu9tcC0A4&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    My presentation slides
    http://www.slideshare.net/razlan/posttude-post-expo-copenhagen-2010

    The posttude sampler is at http://www.posttude.com and more technical data at http://www.geotude.com

    cheers

  • http://radar.oreilly.com Tim O'Reilly

    Michael Martin -

    I’m not talking about a unitary online social network. I’m talking about a personal CRM system.

    You have an address book on your PC, but it’s an artifact of a disconnected era. It doesn’t talk very well to the one on your phone, it doesn’t learn very well from who you call, email, or text. It doesn’t learn from your social network activity.

    And it doesn’t let you do more than the simplest of lookups. For example, I often want to do queries like “who was at that meeting I had last month?” or “who have I added since last October?” No dice.

  • http://twezr.com Delip Andra

    Tim – I just sent you an email. I believe Twezr addresses a big part of the problem you’ve been talking about for a few years now. Would love to chat with you more some time.