Nokia Open Lab 2008 – Social Media Workshop
This was the first workshop, and, at least in the group I was part of, the least forward-looking of all the workshops. Most people used several social networking services, including some I’d never heard of. Almost everybody (except me, maybe, which apparently means I’m no one) was a twitterer. But people also use flickr, qik, seesmic, jaiku and others for sharing information in text, photo and video formats.
As a result, much of our discussion was about aggregators (like friendfeed) and broadcasters (like twitterfeed) so that people have fewer places to look and fewer places to update. Also, though, people deliberately use different services for different communities so that not everybody sees the same information about an individual. Some stuff is just for friends, and not for colleagues. There’s no concept yet in any of these services of levels of friendship, and so no way of presenting different views of yourself to different communities. The reverse is also true, of course – you don’t always want the same level of detail about all of your friends. You want more information about closer friends. Again, social networking services don’t seem to provide that either. Well, Facebook used to, but it doesn’t any more.
There was also a big discussion about data portability. When you switch from one service to another, which early adopters tend to do at frequent intervals, you want to be able to get your data out of the old service and put it in the new one. That’s generally not possible. You also want to be able to take your community with you, and that’s even harder. Many people talked about using aggregators just as a way of dealing with old accounts left lying around because of a few friends that are still using the service.
There was one dissenting voice in that discussion, though. Micki thinks most people (i.e. not the techies & geeks) don’t care. They use social networking sites for now stuff, and the history really isn’t important to them. I can relate to that when talking about twitter and similar services. For others I’m not so sure. I can certainly believe most people don’t care now, but maybe they should? Maybe in the future they’ll realise they do? What if Facebook went away today and everything in there was lost?
One final thought is that many people at the workshop were already into this stuff in a big way, twitter in particular, and there was clearly a virtual community overlaid on the physical community of people at the meeting. There was a build up as people travelled, a bit of a twitter buzz in all the breaks and during the evening entertainments, and there were people not at the meeting that were following it anyway through various social media sites. It has encouraged me to explore these things a bit more and see if I can “get” them. In particular I’m going to have another go a twitter and see if I can go from a nobody to a somebody!