Social Networking 4.0 – Meta Social Networks

Social Networking has gone through three phases so far and I firmly believe that we are at the beginning of the fourth phase.

I refer to these first three phrases from Dave Hornik’s seminal blog entry “Social Networks 3.0” written in December 2005. I accept his interpretation of the first three phrases as follows:

Social Networks 1.0 - Group communications (i.e., AIM, ICQ, eGroup)
Social Networks 2.0 - Basic and Broad Social Networks (i.e. Friendster, LinkedIn)
Social Networks 3.0 - Experience based and more niche focused

Unfortunately, this has left us with a multitude of social networks that just make the noise much louder and they will surely fail because the are selling to the echo chamber and not doing something innovative.

So where does that lead us?

With Om Malik’s post “Are Social Networks Just a Feature?” it got me thinking as to how things are starting to froth to the point where they either need to converge, consolidate, commit suicide or connect. Marc Canter is one person that has it right and has put the tools in place to enable your personal social network or define a niche one with a white label solution. Now this could contribute to the noise, but on the other hand it could allow people to be in one place and aggregate their social network memberships and relationships.

With the recent press coverage of social networks finding new growth with APIs there is the beginning of a ground shift that over the next 18 months will lead to Social Networking 4.0.

So what is Social Networking 4.0?
Social Networking 4.0 is what I call Meta Social Networks. Om is right that tools that build this as a feature will exist but I don’t think many have the desire or sufficient motivation to build a MySpace. I believe that this will lead to increasing the value of intranet systems and back a few years ago when “portals” was the big buzzword, we used to call this concept “Enterprise Expertise Portals”.

The extension of these API’s will allow not only wicked cool Mashups (that is for a later post) it will allow some smart enterpreneur (HINT: FREE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY HERE) to create an identity portal that allows you to manage your profiles on each network and all the details, yet respecting the dotted lines – FOR EXAMPLE: keeping your Goth Emo profile on MySpace separate from your professional business resume on LinkedIn is a necessary thing. Unless you wanted to let your business colleague know about your penchant for black and finding everything so depressing. Then again, they might already have a clue….

So eventually your “Identity Portal” could use various plugins and mashup API’s to take the social networking sites to another level.

This actually leads us full circle to Om Malik’s post of social networks becoming a feature. But in my opinion they would be called foundation and not just a feature.

Still, there are some challenges to overcome:

  • Multiple Identities – This could be overcome with an identity portal but standards like OpenID could help move this along.
  • Social Network API standard – It is good some are opening up. But there should be some standardization of basic profile data so it is easier to work with when connecting to profiles.

I look forward to hearing the communities thoughts on this and if it might work, what other challenges and what “Identity Portal” you might build.

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Is the "Cult of Apple" really a cult? – Part 2

In the first part of this post I was talking about an article called “The 8 Marks of a Cult” and took with a sense of humor how Apple might size up to this analysis originally written in 1961.

So let’s take the remaining 4 Marks and see how they shape up…

Mark #5 – The “Sacred Science
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
The cult’s ideology becomes the ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence. The ideology is too “sacred” to call into question, and a reverence is demanded for the leadership. The cult’s ideology makes an exaggerated claim for possessing airtight logic, making it appear as absolute truth with no contradictions. Such an attractive system offers security.

Observing Apple’s Actions
This is a tough one. Although using Apple is not the ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence, in the IT world everything Apple is sacred and people do demand reverence for the brand in a way that they can do no wrong despite many examples of the contrary (i.e. Lisa, Newton, Mac Clones). Yet the Apple ecosystem does present this air of security because everything works together very well when everything is an Apple product.

Close to the Mark? 6 on a scale of 1 to 10

Mark #6 – Loading the Language
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
We are all familiar with the use of the cliches “capitalist” and “imperialist,” as used by antiwar demonstrators in the 60′s. Such cliches are easily memorized and readily expressed. They are called the “language of non-thought,” since the discussion is terminated, not allowing further consideration.

Observing Apple’s Actions
Apple’s language for the most part is full of “i” and “Mac” but that is just branding. Where they really hit the mark is “transforming”, “innovation” and “breaking away”. I don’t see it much but it is there.

Close to the Mark? 4 on a scale of 1 to 10

Mark #7 – Doctrine Over Person
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
Human experience is subordinated to doctrine, no matter how profound or contradictory such experiences seem. The history of the cult is altered to fit their doctrinal logic. The person is only valuable insomuch as they conform to the role models of the cult. Commonsense perceptions are disregarded if they are hostile to the cult’s ideology.

Observing Apple’s Actions
This one is strong at Apple. From what I read if you work there, you don’t really matter insomuch as how you contribute to the doctrine of Apple and its ultimate goal to rule the universe through innovative products that transform industries. It is interesting when you look at the history of Apple . Most recently at Macworld, the name change from Apple Computer to Apple, Inc. might have many thinking it is to allow them to be the Sony of the 21st century. However, it might be to alter the doctrine that the company was a consumer electronics company all along when we know they were and are a computer company. If you disagree, Apple will get hostile with you and might even sue.

Close to the Mark? 7 on a scale of 1 to 10

Mark #8 – Dispensing of Existence
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
The cult decides who has the “right” to exist and who does not. They decide who will perish in the final battle of good over evil. The leaders decide which history books are accurate and which are biased. Families can be cut off and outsiders can be deceived, for they are not fit to exist!

Observing Apple’s Actions
As for the history books we only need look at the bios like iCon or movies (Pirates of Silicon Valley) where Steve Jobs didn’t have input and got pissed off about it.

As Apple introduces new products it expects to dominate in and almost without saying it has the power to decide who lives or dies.

It is a stretch and therefore a low mark.

Close to the Mark? 4 on a scale of 1 to 10

SO THE FINAL ANALYSIS?
Well, adding up the numbers we get 51 out of 80 or 64%. There is no scale as to what it should be graded but I will say with that high of a number that we can scientifically (yeah, right) prove that the Cult of Apple is a real thing.

So I just want to know one thing. To donate all my possessions and give myself over to the cult, do I have to make the trip to Cupertino or will any Apple Store do just fine”

Is the "Cult of Apple" really a cult? – Part 1

As an avid Mac user and a new convert to all things Apple, I have experienced the RDF (Reality Distortion Field) first hand at MacWorld last year during the key note when Steve Jobs launched of the MacBook Pro (which I am using right now).

I have seen many books on the “Cult of Mac” or “Cult of Apple” but with the growth in market share and its appeal to the masses, I wonder how much is really true.

This weekend I came across an article called “The 8 Marks of a Cult” and it was written in 1961 when the beat movement was in full swing and the Communist threat put our paranoia on full alert.

So with full tongue and cheek humor, let’s take the 8 Marks and see how they shape up…

Mark #1 – Milieu Control
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
“Milieu” is a French word meaning “surroundings; environment.” Cults are able to control the environment around their recruits in a number of ways, but almost always using a form of isolation.

Observing Apple’s Actions
If you look at how they talk to the press and keep a tight lip on product releases their control of the press is legendary. Witness the Macworld Keynote where they absolutely control the environment and it is filled with MacHeads in isolation waiting for Steve Jobs.

Close to the Mark? 7 on a scale of 1 to 10

Mark #2 – Mystical Manipulation
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
In religious cults, God is ever-present in the workings of the organization. The organization is given a certain “mystique” that is quite alluring to the new recruit.

Observing Apple’s Actions
Everywhere there is Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is everywhere. There is no more to really say here

Close to the Mark? 6 on a scale of 1 to 10

Mark #3 -Demand for Purity
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
The world is depicted as black and white, with little room for making personal decisions based on a trained conscience. One’s conduct is modeled after the ideology of the group, as taught in its literature. People and organizations are pictured as either good or evil, depending on their relationship to the cult.

Observing Apple’s Actions
All the products are usually in black and white with the “professional” silver throw in. Don’t forget the occasional colors to mix it up but it always comes back to black and white.

Another example – Apple good. Microsoft evil. I would say that is pretty black and white, wouldn’t you?

Close to the Mark? 10 on a scale of 1 to 10

Mark #4 – The Cult of Confession
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
There is often a tendency to derive pleasure from self-degradation through confession. This occurs when all must confess their sins before each other regularly, creating an intense kind of “oneness” within the group. It also allows leaders from within to exercise authority over the weaker ones, using their “sins” as a whip to lead them on.

Observing Apple’s Actions
Most people who switch love to start their story with confession. “I used to be a Windows user for 10 years until I found the Mac and made switch”. As if almost they have found oneness to admit their wrong and connect with the fellow MacHeads.

Close to the Mark? 7 on a scale of 1 to 10

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NEXT TIME: Part 2 and the other 4 Marks analyzed.