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Understanding Social Network Portability

How many times have you answered emails from different websites confirming the same friends? How many times have you joined a social network, added a few friends, and then gave up because your network wasn’t there? Do you even remember all your usernames for sites that you haven’t logged into in a while?

These questions are being dissected, and you can even contribute to the discussion. Just join the .

Saturday at BarCampBlock in Palo Alto, Brad Fitzpatrick, David Recordon, and Joseph Smarr gave a talk entitled, "Opening the Social Graph". Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerburg explained this concept of a social matrix to the world only a few months ago.

But the social graph has a problem. Fitz explains it simply:

“People are getting sick of registering and re-declaring their friends on every site”

But what if you want to be friends with someone on , but not on Pownce? Some companies have developed wonderful social graphs (Facebook) with huge audiences (MySpace), but there is no way to port that data across multiple networks, or ensure that the data is secure.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you signed up to a site like Facebook for the first time, and you had all your friends from other social networks on the first screen waiting to be added as a friend? What if you joined Flickr for the first time, and found out that 20 of your friends from high school have been posting photos everyday?

It’s a cool concept to me, and I think these guys are on the right track. There is a lot of work that needs to be done on the developer end of things so that the user barely notices a change.

The debate about personal and private data will continue, but I think we are moving towards a solution. The more forms we fill out on the web, the more we are accustomed to trusting a new social network. But, how many times have you read a Terms of Service?

Relationships in the real world will always overpower anything online, but we are getting to the point where we rely on social networks for all of our interpersonal informaiton gathering. All we need is some glue to merge it all together.

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