I've just spent a day yak shaving which is maybe behind me now. In the gaps while waiting for php, mysql, pear and a bunch of other stuff, I've been thinking again about this whole YASN thing. This was partly prompted by looking at Plaxo's profile pages, streams and OpenSocial experiments and Facebook's new Pages. Then today I noticed in my Facebook stream a whole bunch of people who's status began "is twittering" Which means that they use Twitter, have the Twitter app installed in Facebook, are my friends on Facebook, but I'm not following them on Twitter. One last thing of note. Somebody sent me an Ecademy support request into my Facebook Inbox. Arrrg!

What I come back to is why we use these social networks at all. I think it boils down to four areas. Meet, message, discuss, publish. So that's:-
1) Meet: Find interesting people. Make connections.
2) Message: Talk direct to them, One to One.
3) Discuss: Form affinity groups and discuss stuff among the people in the group. Few to Few
4) Publish: Post short or long form content to the web. One to Many.
Maybe there's some other forms of communication, but these seem to be the most important.

So what is going on with all the cross pollination? Things like Plaxo, and to some extent Facebook don't seem to add a whole lot of value when what they're doing is to just collect together value that is created elsewhere on the web. What's the point of reading Twitter via Facebook, when I can go direct. But what this does do is to facilitate that first function of Meet, Find, Make connections. What's frustrating is that these systems tend to be fairly hopeless for 2, 3 and 4. I have this throw away comment at the moment that the *only thing* Facebook is any good at is being viral. But of course, there is huge value in that.

So then we get to OpenSocial and start thinking about OS and FB Apps. Some of FB's Apps are getting quite big now, and some of their own internal function (Like Groups) are written as Apps. So what if Twitter or phpBB weren't written as stand alone websites with their own account management and friending controls but were written as parasitic/symbiotic Apps to be run inside OS or FB and used the parent container's account management. This is not exactly easy at the moment but it feels like where we're going. It seem to me that this will lead to a reduction in the number of YASN Containers as the ones with all the names win, but a simultaneous explosion of numbers of Apps. With one huge caveat. There's no obvious way for the Apps to make money.

So perhaps it doesn't matter that the YASNs aren't great at Message, Discuss, Publish if they're good at Meet. The question for me now is whether Facebook hiding everything behind the login wall ultimately reduces their attraction to App developers. If the content created in your app is not visible to the world and is not indexed by Google, will you see that as an unacceptable downside? I think it is. In which case the YASN that will win will be the one that:-
- Has all the names
- Is open and visible
- Doesn't get too much in the way with all it's own dross.

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[ 13-Nov-07 12:00pm ] [ , , , ]