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As the size of the network increases, our ability to be social decreases

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

A very interesting perspective by Nina Khosla in which she rightly mentions that as the size of our network grows, we get inundated with information. Think of Google+ vs Facebook. I have very low activity on my Google+ account. As a result, I can focus on the content better, enjoy it more and interact with it better. On the other hand my Facebook wall has so much stuff, that I have stopped visiting it much unless I want to kill some time. I am sure Google+ will reach the same stage, but for now, its manageable.

So how do we stay in touch with all the people we meet over time, without getting overloaded with information from all of their personal lives? Does it really make sense to have all of those people as Facebook “friends”?

To think of it, we have had a simple solution to this problem all the while – its our address-book – that lists all those people we met and associated with over the years. Exchanging contact information is the simplest and easiest way to build your network of connections. The most subtle property of the address-book is also its most powerful feature: there is no content! No obligation to share and no obligation to consume and get overloaded with content. We can stay in touch with a 1000 people without getting bogged down with content. It is also the most personalized way to stay in touch: just pick up the phone and call someone from your address-book.

What is missing from our address-book today that makes us add each and every person we meet to so many different social networks? It is the ability to stay connected. We all know that our address-books get outdated pretty fast and when the time comes to call someone or send them a note, we reach a dead end and then we scamper around to find the updated contact information. It is this fear of loosing a contact that makes us add that person we just met as a “friend” even though she may be far from it. The count of “friends” increases over time, we reach a saturation point and once we cross that point, we simply think of the social networking site as a connection point and look for something more personalized that is smaller and better.

What if we could tackle the most basic problem with the address-book: we have to work hard to keep it updated. What if you never had to manage your address-book, ever? What if every time you pickup your phone and dial a friend, it reaches her on the number she wants you to call her on! Or when you type her name in your email software, the correct email address automatically shows up? What if you could control the number on which your connections call you and the email they can write to you? The answer is simple: we will always be connected with people we meet over time. That friend from school or that person whom I did business with many years back would be just a call away. We can stay connected with 1000s of people without overwhelming ourselves.

Introducing this dream come true: myContactID. Where we are always connected, and just a phone call away. Where there is no obligation of content sharing, no information overload to deal with. You simply stay.. connected!

Sounds interesting? Join our private beta today: http://theContactID.com

Link to full article from Nina Khosla:
http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/28/the-social-network-paradox/

Take control of your contact information

A recent article by Doc Searls talks about how today’s social networks are getting out of user’s control (link). He gives an excellent example of how his contacts are spread across 8-10 different social sites, web applications, desktop/mobile applications, etc. His stats: 840 on Facebook, 480 on LinkedIn, 212 on Flickr, 1352 on Twitter, 1162 on the computer address book, several hundred in chat client, 50 in skype, etc. The bottom line is, his contacts are not in one place, and more importantly, he is not in control of them. I am sure most of you can relate to this problem. He states:

I am not yet.. the point of integration for my own data. In fact I can’t be, because most of the data in these “social networks” is not mine. Functionally, it’s theirs.

This we feel is the fundamental problem with today’s social networks. They are each trying to manage your social network, whereas it should be you who should be in control of your own social network.

Doc further states:

I would rather have my own way of keeping personal information straight with myself, and sharing it selectively and when I felt like it. … the idea they share is that each of us, as sovereign individuals, are … the best points of integration for our own data. None of these social sites, no matter how well-intended they may be, can do the job, simply because nothing, and nobody, can be personal for me on my behalf. If puppets are involved, they need to be mine. Not the reverse.

Let us look at your contact information to further Doc’s point of view here. Your contact information today most likely has a mobile phone number, a work mobile number, maybe a home landline number, a personal email, a work email, a Twitter ID, a Facebook ID, maybe a Flickr ID for sharing fotos, and the list goes on. Who would be the person with the best knowledge of all of this information?  Thats right, that person has to be you! Let us now assume for a minute that you change your mobile number. Who is in control of the change and who knows the new number first? Thats right, its you again! Clearly you are the best person to manage your data. Similarly, your contacts are the best person to manage their own contact information. However, today, you are managing all of your contact’s data yourself! If a contact changes their mobile number, its you, instead of them, who updates that information in your address book. You are keeping your own address books updated in your computer/mobile address book and across these social sites, that leads to the address book fragmentation that Doc talks about.

We believe there are two steps to reach a solution to this problem:

  1. Each individual should manage and be in control of their personal information such as their contact information
  2. Each individual should engage with other individuals, businesses and institutes and selectively share their personal information

Translated in practical terms this means: First, you manage your own contact information in one place. Second, you build your address book by connecting with others and sharing some of your contact information. Third, you share your address book selectively with various websites. You will then truly be the point of integration of your own data. Others you engage with will only get a view of  your data that you want them to view, giving you complete control.

Doc mentions that he is looking for something similar:

What I crave is independence, and better ways of engaging — ones that are mine and not just theirs. Ones that work across multiple services in consistent ways. Ones that let me change my data with all these services at once, if I want to.

At myContactID, we are building a service that puts you in control of your information and gives you independence from captive websites. It is after all your information!

Doc ends the article with:

The message I’m bringing is … how we now need to prove something we’ve known all along: that free customers are more valuable than captive ones.

We do hope this message resonates with businesses soon and we are looking forward to proving it with myContactID users who are already enjoying the freedom!

Do check us out at http://www.theContactID.com and sign up for a beta invite!

Regards,

The myContactID team.

Categories: Uncategorized

“Social networks” are getting out of “your” control

“Social networks” are getting out of control. And I don’t mean their control. I mean your control and mine… The complete article is here.

Categories: Uncategorized
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