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Unbound Spiral: Skype Changing Social Networks

September 15, 2003 11:18 AM

It's all really intriguing. This question of whether and how we should codify relationships with the majority of effort around centralized data solutions, negotiating standards and adoption. I'm thinking there is another route.

Right now Skype has 18869 users online with 240000 downloads. That is more than any of these social networking tools Ryze, Ecademy, Linkedin, Tribe etc.. have ever had on concurrently. The founders negotiated no standards they are simply providing a phone system that works. See Cnet and the quote below.

Let's tie the interesting discussion on relationships and social networking software that's emerged over the weekend to whats happening with Skype. The discussion started with Liz Lawley here and then a great perspective by Danah Boyd here and Matt Mower adds more here. Summed up in Marc's blog as well where he says.

However if Matt knew what it took us to even broach the subject of multi-granularity to the RDF camp and get it expressed in FOAF, he'd know that you gotta walk before you can run. Since everyone's concept of 'friends' is this binary yes or no sort of attitude, it has repercussions across all sorts of issues: user experience, profile interchange, the semantic web, ecommerce and multimedia personalization.

Whether it be for a foundation of federated social networks, enhancing one's digital lifestyle aggregation or as a basis multimedia personalization - putting identity into CONTEXT is what it's all about. Identity doesn't work as a stand alone concept - putting folks into a frenzy about privacy and security. It only works - when it's put into some real-world context.


Well we have a new real-world context. whats interesting is it is driven by voice not text. Most of the above remains driven by text, transactions and regulations. What I want to know is whether or not we should talk. Some text and a profile or additional infomation may help. Around the telephone call are all sorts of "understandings". I'll be interested to see if we have to reinvent them as a result of Skype.

I fully expect people to leave AIM, Yahoo and MSN for Skype. Skype's already carrying a profile. It could be made significantly richer and I'm sure progressive disclosure could be enabled quickly. My question is what access do I want to enable. My buddies and buddies buddies? Those that have read or linked to my blog? Sure! The doctor's office, dentist etc. Yep. Then those that perhaps I don't know but are prepared to provide a verified profile, including those verified to contain no adult content. Concurrently with these lists we have an emerging phone system that may be linked to our knowledge assets. Why can't Google and Technorati be linked to Skype? If Technorati can search Skype blog urls and match with owner names... then we would accelerate exchanges. It could easily be made smart (online or offline) and provide a notification!

Thus blogging / knowledge assets would also have a Skype contact number capability and whether they could be reached now or if they are offline you could offer a notification service perhaps even using Skype that so’n so is now online. Potentially you could make this a Technorati call. You become the call forwarder thus brokering the intro. Ie this person has linked to your blog and is available to talk to you. Similarly when I send a trackback pin, should I have an option to ping Technorati that I'd be willing to talk to the pinged author? There's a lot that could be done here. I imagine Feedster too could start searching online Skype users and link back to retrieved postings.

Similarly I'd like someone to tell me quickly how I add an additional input section to my comments like the e-mail address that enables a Skype callback. Be a lot easier to thank people that way!

Kazaa co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom have a new target: the telephone industry. They've launched Skype, which they claim is the first Internet phone service to use peer-to-peer software. In just its first week of availability, 60,000 people downloaded the free Skype software. Other voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, such as Vonage or Free World Dialup (FWD), needed several months to attract the same level of interest. Tech News - CNET.com

Separately, where there has been some negative blogging around the Eula and possible future charges keep the following in mind. First it is now proven and could be duplicated. Second this is a global phenomena and any charges will have to work accordingly. Lastly, real disruptive change happens when the cost factor means the new product is 10 times cheaper. That can only happen if everyone get online. Pressure your friends and I bet more than a few new businesses emerge.



Comments (4)

Stuart - you could set yourself up a Google news alert link to be notified about Skype news (or any other keyword news).

Posted by: TDavid at September 15, 2003 4:16 PM

Interesting, interesting thoughts. Thank you.

Scott from Feedster

Posted by: Scott Johnson at September 15, 2003 7:13 PM

I get a sense that you're really excited by Skype and these new developments in P2P collaboration ?

Posted by: Jon at September 16, 2003 7:16 AM

Aside from quality, why is everyone going crazy over skype. I have used yahoo, netmeeting, and dialpad with success.

Posted by: keith knutsson at September 16, 2003 10:41 AM