Isn't it time to open up the social internet?
Right, I need to email my buddy to arrange a fun weekend but I use Gmail and he uses Hotmail so I can't send him an email. I try sending a text message (SMS), but I am on T-Mobile and he's on Voadafone so I can't. I try phoning his landline but he has traditional telephone and I am on cable, so I can't phone him...
Luckily we don't live in this world, this is thanks to standards. Social however is still in the dark ages. If I want to message my buddy through a social network, should I MySpace, Facebook or Google+ him? Perhaps I take an awesome photograph on our holiday, how do I share it with my friends when there are so many options?
Facebook - Power in numbers
It turns out the way I do this is through Facebook simply because that's where my friends are. Is it the best social network? Who knows, why would I try others when my friends aren't there - we cannot have a social network without people. When a company the size of Google invests so heavily in a social network that is a good enough reason for me to at least give it a go.
As it turns out, I prefer Google+ over Facebook. Circles make sense to me, the user interface is much cleaner and less cluttered than Facebook and as an amateur photographer I love the high resolution photographs that aren't compressed to destruction.
However, the solution to my problem isn't another social network, it just fragments things further. Just because Google+ works for me doesn't mean it works for my friends - so I shouldn't have to twist their arms to get them shifted over to a new network for my benefit.
A social standard - Making the social internet more, erm, social
You'll notice me deliberately using the term social internet rather than social web. Facebook has shown that social online is much bigger than just the web, it's a platform on the internet in its own right really. A standardised social internet isn't a new idea, I am aware of that. But I feel we are closer than ever and this is thanks to Google.
What does Google have to gain from Google+? I wrote a post on Friday about why Google needs Android and summarised it is ensure there is a platform out there on which Google services can be used, free from the grip of platform creators with their own agenda. I believe Google+ is here for much the same reason, Facebook has a social monopoly and this will be troubling Google as to how they can they index and search within the walled gardens of Facebook.
Perhaps for this reason, as Google+ continues to grow it might force Facebook to evaluate its closed system and allow some kind open system. This will take a huge growth in Google+ and perhaps a reduction in Facebook usage. I wish for a future where Facebook, Google+, MySpace and so on are just "clients" we use to access the social internet. Can you imagine that, posting a photograph in just one place to be displayed on all? I can, and it's beautiful.