Last week at Webcom in Montreal I met a lot of great people, and saw some old friends. One of the friends I got to catch up with is Marc Canter. Now Marc has always been ahead of the curve. He was making the first synthesizers himself. He created Director to be able to create his multi-media musical extravaganza art pieces and performances. Director later became Flash and then Macromedia (now Adobe). Since then he's been doing a lot as well as building the first social networks that we know today.
Marc has been a Paul Revere when it comes to open information, and allowing the users to choose what information goes where rather than the networks we give the information to. When I traveled to MIPTV a couple years ago we shared a cab from Nice to Cannes. While in the cab I asked him why he was doing so much work for Open internet and information. He told me that because he made Flash proprietary, he was paying for his sins now by going the other way. I guess it is kinda like when a smoker stops smoking, they are worst non-smokers than the people who never smoked.
In any case, we got to have dinner in Montreal together with Patrick Chanezon from Google. Marc was talking about all kinds of stuff with me and Patrick. One of the stories that really got me excited was the idea that his wife did with the teacher and class using BroadBand Mechanics tools. Broadband Mechanics is the current company Marc has built which is a Social Network tool set and service. The service is being used by a number of big clients such as some government groups, education institutes, media corporations, and non-profit organizations, as well as ordinary people because it is free. Although if you want to custom stuff, that will cost money. Which is a sound business plan as long as there are not too many glitches in the source matrix.
In any case Marc explained this idea using his wife's story as an example in what I can only refer to as "Proxy Social Networking". I'll try to explain. Imagine I start a Social Network for some of my classes. I know that a number of my students understand the social networks, but maybe not all want to get on it right away. On this social network I could be placing assignments, links, photos, a knowledgebase in a way. Other students could be uploading the homework, interacting with each other on assignments, etc. etc. Now when I create the network, I add all my students in with a profile. After a while those students who didn't want to be on the network at the start, can evaluate the added value and then decide to join on. However when they do join on, they already have thier profile setup with credits in assignments, videos, etc. Half the work was already done for them.
Now this becomes even more interesting when you think of a talk that (I think Robbert Scobble but I could be wrong) did at Next Web last year. He explained that sites like twitter, facebook, and other social media sites are no fun if you have no friends. Kinda like in life I guess. Well except for freaky porn sites. You don't really want to have too many friends on theier when you first enter. Along the way fine, depending on your preference. But I digress... But there is a point that twitter, and the like only become fun once you have a few friends already.
Now to get rid of a lot of Social Network fatigue that people are getting nowadays, this could be the solution. I mean, to go and invest in porting sections of my firends to a new social network service is a big undertaking nowadays. I mean, do I really have too? That's what a lot of people think. At least in an older generation. It turns into Social Network Fatigue. However if I join and there are already friends there filled in as well as stuff I was in, such as in the example when my students decide to join, that fatigue goes down real fast.
So by allowing people to create Social Networks with the ability to Proxy members, this could be a way that prevents the fatigue that users experience when entering the network. Now if I could only find a way to do this with new girlfriends and meeting my family, that would be excellent! Or as as Marc van Woudenberg says, integrating illegitimate brothers and sisters.
Here is an interview with Marc Canter at Picnic