Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


A Whole Lotta Nothing: Social Software ideas

Matt Haughey writes down a bunch of ideas for social software:

While social software may be the internet revolution du jour among venture capitalists, as a user I'm still waiting for the killer social software app that lives up to all the market hype.

Read on for the list of ideas and how I think they might work.

  1. Colloquial mapping: combine mapping with personal directions on how to get places.
  2. Geographical opinion systems: information about local "best of's".
  3. Collaborative consumed media: gather information about your friends' music, movies, etc.
  4. Reputation management ideas: an acknowledgment that current reputation systems need an upgrade, and can't just rely on one variable.
  5. Address book that can be shared with friends: an update links to Jay Allen's idea for this.

I had the idea for #1 when I was driving to Boston with Kate. Often times, looking at the turn-by-turn maps for something, it is still hard to see the actual, physical turn-offs you have to take. My idea was to have users submit their own directions between destinations, including pictures they take of the turn-offs and signs along the way. This is becoming increasingly easy to accomplish, what with digital cameras and smartphones that take pictures. Now someone just has to build the infrastructure to store those directions and pictures in.

#2 is exactly what I want VisualStreet.NET to be. I'm writing more about it here locally.

I think #3 is one of the coolest ideas that isn't anywhere close to being done. As others have written about, perhaps the largest category of individually created content is reviews. Now the trick is to launch a service that makes it very easy to write about and share your reviews, including feeds and a web services API so that this content can be included elsewhere. I try and keep up with this stuff in my blog, but it isn't as easy as it could be.

For #4, what else can I add? Reputation systems are hard, and touch on all sorts of thorny issues like privacy, security, etc. etc.

There are lots of address book updating schemes. I think I mentioned Kunekt before, which can create an RSS feed of your contact info, so people that subscribe to your card will get updated when you change it (here's the link to my Kunekt feed).

Andrew Jones just recently sent me a Plaxo email, which apparently just broke the 1M mark of contacts. It integrates into Outlook, OE, or has you use the web-based address book.

I don't see contact/address management as an application in its own right -- it is a very basic function that I can see being added to all sorts of applications. For one, it seems to really make sense as part of a person's profile, so social networks (especially the business ones) should be integrating this functionality.

This is a feature that I will likely be adding to as part of the member profiles -- as well as notifying about upcoming birthdays on your buddy list, it would be trivial to add address change notification as well.

Update: the comment by Peter on the Jay Allen post has the best idea -- make such a shared address book feature visible via LDAP, then it can be accessed directly from within most email/contact programs.