I Need a Social Network Aggregator!
Recently Marc Andreessen posted on his blog that Ning, a company that he co-founded, hosts over 70,000 social networks. He goes on to say that Ning hosts more social networks than the rest of the internet. So let’s assume there are some 100,000 social networks out there. Now the big ones like MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn have the lion’s share of traffic and members, but the sheer number of networks out there is causing some real head aches for users (including yours truly).
It reminds me of the early days of instant messaging (about which I have some experience via my previous company, Pivot Solutions). The first movers (ICQ, AIM, Yahoo, etc.) created walled community of users. Then came along the aggregators like Trillian which began a running battle where the network owners would block Trillian and, a few hours later, Trillian would work around the block. Eventually, peace was made and now there are a ton of these services (Meebo, Jabber, Odigo and many others). Even the major networks now support interoperability (Yahoo-MSN, etc.). After all, IM buddy lists are a very close analog to social network connections. IM interoperability matured with the adoption of standards (XMPP and SIMPLE).
So here’s what I’d like to see. A website that aggregates social network sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning networks, etc. The first thing that is required are some standards (Community Networking Markup Protocol aka CNMP anyone?). Obviously, some serious biz dev will be required to pull this off, but it can be done. If there is already one out there hiding somewhere, give me a call!
Update 7/9/2007: Apparently Google has sponsored a project at Carnegie Mellon University that has the goal to, "create a system for users to seamlessly share, view and respond to many types of social content across multiple networks." Should be interesting to see what comes of this.