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Social Networking Models arrived a couple of days ago. On first pass, superficially I would have agreed with Ross ... It’s a neat chart and it is useful set of descriptors.

(apologies... I can't figure out how to paste it into MT and coding it is creating other issues... the orginal is pretty)

Social Networking Models

Network Type --------------- Connection -------------- Example
Explicit ------------------ Declarative -------------- Ryze
Physical ------------------------ In-person --------------------- Meetup
Conversational -------------- Communication -------------- LiveJournal; Weblogs
Private -------------- Referral -------------- Friendster
© 2003 Ross Mayfield

So why my devil's advocacy? Because these are not the terms that will motivate my mother or my son etc. The descriptors are functional, and not benefit related. Until they are defined in “benefit terms” the tools will stay in the realm of techies and developers.

Example: Ryzedeclarative identity service” On the face of it is. It’s what I want people to see of me. … It’s a little soft, with a business edge. However that’s the format. The story of Ryze is not identity, it is not profiles, rather the connections made by real people. The identity profile a functionality that can be combined with others to create real value.

Example Ryze benefit ladder:
What does Ryze do? Helps me make a web page,
Why important? Have a profile that is really me
Why important? My friends and colleagues can find me
Why important? Helps organize my contacts
Why important? Provides membership to an interesting community
Why important? Because I make new connections
Why important? Meeting people is fun

So my caution in this post is to start thinking about social tools development in pictures. I’ve said it before. Features are facts, benefits tell a story. Consumers can’t draw declarative identity services. If they did they would probably draw “cold calling” scenarios. They can draw meeting people online. These pictures will have human faces!

Here’s a quote from the informal research run round Ryze:

“What's working for ryze today …. is its warmth, is the relative freedom it allows in accessing people you would not have done so easily elsewhere, human connections that may be endearing .. for instance, a top notch IT guy who's so into cats … connects at that level and shares freely with other cat lovers, or a photograph of a top honcho with his little baby in his arms.”

So lets see more words and phrases, “brings me closer”, friendship, socializing, having fun, “everyone at my fingertips”. Etc. It may feel a little uncomfortable…. So can socializing.

That’s almost it for my Soap Box! I can’t help taking it back to recent posts on “circles”. It began with “circles of trust”; without trust there are no circles. While nothing ventured nothing gained. Safe and secure is also relative.

So let’s add that all social networking models are “conversational”. Conversations are the result of the tools and functionalities brought to you by the social networking toolmakers. Fundamentally the dirty secret here is: “It’s not what --- it’s whom!” Google just about has “what” captured. This whole emergent area will disappear if “whom” fails to be personal, human, fun, rewarding, satisfying, friendly, professional, ego boosting, nurturing, etc. AND never forget SAFE n SECURE.

Online social networking will be fueled when “everybody” sees that providing profiles by degrees leads to personal advantage. The perceived advantage will differ from person to person.

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