Best and Worst of Social Media 2004

Cynthia Typaldos posted to her excellent Web Communities Yahoo Group her best and worst of the social media in 2004:

BEST:
Dogster
Amazon.com’s Listmania: the best way to find what you really
want even when you don’t know what it is
www.paidcontent.org great newsletter/blog about the content industry
The Social Software Weblog by Judith Meskill
All of Robin Good’s stuff (MasterNewMedia)

Dogs that Blog and the dog blogroll- there are now 6 dogs in the dog blogroll (which I maintain), 3 of which are written from the dog’s point of you. Yes, laugh all you like, but a major newspaper will soon be publishing a story on blogging pets. This could be the hot social networking topic of 2005.

WORST:
Social Networking website business models (are there any?)
BzzAgent (NYTimes article)
Too many social networking sites

Cynthia is one of the long-time experts in this field, for whom I have tremendous respect (we worked together before), but we don’t always see entirely eye-to-eye. Here’s my list in response:

BEST:

Have to agree with Cynthia on:
The Social Software Weblog by Judith Meskill
All of Robin Good’s stuff (MasterNewMedia)

I’m also a big fan of:
– Corante Many2Many and GetReal
About Weblogs, the most consistent and thorough blogging resource site I’ve found
– Lee LeFever’s blog’s Technology in Plain English category. Especially see Comparing Social Networking to Online Communities.
– Judith Donath and danah boyd’s Public Displays of Connection
AlwaysOn Network
– Ziad Abdelnour’s Global Capital Access Club on Ecademy (my vote for best network/group/club within a social networking site)

And my bit of shameless self-promotion:
– The Five Keys to Building Business Relationships Online is really good (and some other people think so too).
– [UPDATE March 30, 2005: The Five Keys is no longer available, but check out our new book, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online]
– I think it’s pretty cool that my coauthor and I have a monthly column for FastCompany.com about online business relationships / social networking – so far as I know, the first in a major publication (OK, it’s online only at the moment, but that’s still a big step):
     Crossing the Social Networking Chasm
     The Next Generation of Contact Management Software
     I Am Not a Number!

WORST:
I agree with Cynthia about Too many social networking sites – there are too many that are entirely undifferentiated. Technology doth not a social network make. Going back to Cynthia’s 12 Principles, the one thing missing from so many of them is a clear and abiding purpose.

That said, top of my list are: 🙂

1. People saying there’s no business model for social networking, when Ryze, Ecademy, Tickle, Contact Network Corporation, et al., are profitable. Others, like LinkedIn and Tribe, haven’t even tested their models yet. To say there’s no business model for social networking simply because some of them haven’t made money yet is just in utter denial of the facts. What about the 2,000 people who have signed up to pay $4,500 – $5,000 for Ecademy Blackstar membership? If they add 250-300 a year like they plan to, that’s $1.5 million a year for that program alone. Regardless of your opinion of Ecademy, that’s not bad for a 6-person company running open-source software.

2. Corollary to the above: people saying that social networking sites don’t work. The truth is simply people don’t know how to use social networking sites. Pundits can say all they want to that they should be intuitive, but the issue is not the use of the site – it’s the social practices online. The typical 40-something professional has around 200,000 hours of experience interacting with people face-to-face, and less than 5,000 hours interacting online. As the human race, we have tens of thousands of years of face-to-face interaction, and barely 30 online – 20, really. What do you expect? It’s we who need to learn how to interact online effectively – the social networking sites can’t do that for us. They’re a tool – nothing more, nothing less. And most of us can even learn to use a hammer more effectively.

The worst offender regarding the above?

Far and away, it has to be PC Magazine columnist John Dvorak, who has posted multiple rants about business networking sites, blogging, Cluetrain Manifesto (talk about killing the sacred cow!), and instant messaging. There’s so much good commentary out there about how off-base he is that I won’t even
attempt to list it here.

It might help if these people actually talked to someone who’s using them effectively instead of just ranting about how inadequate they are based on their own experience. Talk to the people who it is working for. Seems simple enough, yes?