Facebook Killer, qu’est que c’est? Fa fa fa fah, fa fa, fa fa fah fah.


Google+ has been causing a bit of a stir over the last week as people with invites have been putting it through its paces.

I don’t have an invite. šŸ™

But then, neither do the other people in my core network.

Watching the tweets come in about how people are finding it is fascinating. While nobody that I’m following has gone hugely ape over it, the responses seem to range from “meh” to “interesting”. No one has been outright hostile as far as I can see.

I was interested in this post from Read/Write Web about the possibilities (and limitations) for using Google+ in school. It seems like it’s not offering anything revolutionary in itself but the collection of tools in one place with eventual support for Google Docs etc puts it in a powerful position.

Also, check out Tom Barrett’s post on the subject.

Doug Belshaw highlighted the influence on our collective online lives that Google could wield if Plus takes off.

The other theme of note is the inevitable “is this an Facebook killer?”.

Why is it that for some new technologies to have been judged as successful they need to have obliterated the competition? Do we apply that reasoning to newspapers? Chocolate bars? If we’re worried about concentration of our online data in the hands of a couple of corporations then having a broad spectrum of platforms is surely more healthy. 

Of course, networks work best where people flock together and Facebook’s 600m users make quite a flock. Also, quite a lot of my personal experience over the last few years is catalogued in Facebook and I’d be loathe to abandon that record.

A few years ago, the mobile operators were forced to introduce number portability. It was apparent that mobile telephony was as essential tool for people and to facilitate competition the networks were told to allow users to carry their number onto other networks. Arguably, some people’s social network activities are now as important as their mobile phone.

Would this be possible on social networks? Not easily. Platforms operate in such a variety of ways that simple transferability isn’t possible. Transferring data between eportfolios or VLE’s is hard enough. Also, the comparison doens’t quite work as we might be consumers of social networking but we’re not necessarily customers so social network providers are under a different set of obligations.

What I would like to see is a SoMe ecosystem that evolves to facilitate easy movement between platforms and a greater measure of compatability between them. It’s not really in the best interest of the likes of Facebook but I can dream, can’t I?

In the meantime, I’m off to set up a support group for learning technology people that didn’t get their early invites for Google+.

I think I’ll do it in LinkedIn.

Image credit: Ripples by Cappuccino_iv – By-NC-ND

With social media, “We are the product…”

Hat tip to @sboneham for tweeting this one.

Douglas Rushkoff talks about the lack of public understanding about what technologies like Facebook are for; allowing companies to monetise the data that we willingly surrender to them.

I’ve heard Miles Metcalfe say something similar; along the lines of “if you’re using a technology, and that technology is free, then you’re not the customer. You’re the product.”

Rushkoff’s argument is neatly summarised in this promo for his book.

It’s an interesting, critical view on what web 2.0 has actually given us. We’re using it to create connections and prduce our own content but in ways that also created a valuable resource for other organisations that can be bought and sold.

It’s a trade off between having access to these tools and resources and handing our data over to the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. If we’re happy with that trade off then fine, but we should at least be aware there’s a trade off.

Or, as Rushkoff suggests, develop the skills to shape the tools ourselves.



What’s your social media exit strategy?



As part of ourĀ Netskills workshopĀ on using social networking for community participation we haveĀ guidanceĀ on putting together a social media strategy, involving aims, outcomes, methods, individual responsibilities etc.

One question I want to include in the future isĀ “what is your exit strategy?”Ā It’s not so much, how will you withdraw from social media entirely, but have you considered what happens when the community you are engaging with stops using the platform you have invested so much time in establishing yourself on (Facebook, for example)?

Myspace was never widely used by education institutions as a way of social networking but they are a good example of how an established platform canĀ wither awayĀ in the face of the alternatives.

Google+Ā is picking up momentum and Diaspora is just round the corner. They may become anything from “the next big thing”, through “just another option”, to “big white elephant”. With discussion of Facebook “peaking” it’s worth acknowledging that the social media landscape will probably look very different in 2 years’ time.

As part of your planning, have you considered the fact that you might have to change horses mid race at some point? Do you have resources in place to let you do that should you decide to? How do you rebuild your valuable network quickly on another platform? How will you protect, archive or transfer the data you have in the old platform? Do you avoid putting all eggs in one basket so that you can simultaneously run a number of networks?

What other questions should we consider when building flexibility into a social media strategy?

Image: Exit by Endemoniada – By-NC-ND