Distributed Communities

Mikkel at the actics blog has this insightful piece on software tools that permitt  linking users and forming communities across media platforms.

‘Fred Stutzman recently argued for designers of social networking software (SNS) to adopt OpenID to bypass the problem of achieving critical mass on your SNS to get the social going. There’s a lot of network effects (no wonder) and rich-get-richer in social networks, and you simply cannot push everybody on to new sites however great they might be. So, you should simply connect them between their present ‘homes’. OpenID is a new standard offering cross media authentication and ID management. In this context it means basically providing for socializing across different SNS’ (being friends, sending/leaving messages, logging visiting friends from other SNS’ etc). Stutzman’s compelling analogy is allowing people to mail other recipients than gmail users when using gmail yourself.

Today Steve Poland of Vested Ventures writes on TechCrunch:

MyBlogLog has built the next generation social networking service. If Friendster/MySpace/etc are v1.0 of social networking websites, this is v2.0. The service has created a distributed social networking platform — allowing websites and blogs to enable social networking amongst their community of visitors.

Poland’s argument is very much in line with Stutzman (and he actually already voiced it back in June) and what I havce been arguing in Actics. Why not provide cross media socialization? This should be equally obvious as cross service mailing or cross carrier phone calling. People are more than ‘Studying’ at Facebook, ‘Music’ at MySpace and ‘Ethics’ at Actics.com. There’s something quite old fashioned provincially local about the big social sites refusing things like OpenID. ‘Go ahead and socialize as much as you like – but only in our silo’. People are signed up to all sorts of sites due to chance, timing or personal taste. But that shouldn’t keep them from forming all sorts of communities across their different ‘villages’. This is simple web-globalization.

Naturally, I also agree with Stutzman and Poland’s expectation to see an explosion of services offering cross-media socializing soon. And MySpace, FaceBook and the other major players to support these services in order not to loose members expecting this new natural freedom offered at the next social site. Distributed communities seem such a natural development. And all the talk about widgets the last couple of months is an indicator of this as well.

Acitcs is in the process of launching a widget that works this way.

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