In the world of journalism, you as a reporter/writer are valued for three basic skills: ability to ferret out news and trends, ability to write, and last but not the least, for building up your rolodex. Fatter the rolodex, the better a reporter you are, and that explains why The New York Times‘ Tom Friedman is so successful. Your rolodex would (and should) include more names than just Rob Enderle. Rolodex, infact is the key here. It makes you privy to news before your rivals, it is one true differentiator between a good and a great reporter. By now you must be wondering, what’s the point of this rambling?
The point is this whole trend of social networking. Whether it is Tribe.net, Friendster, or LinkedIn, they are banking on one little aspect – we would share our rolodex, and build up a network of our own, and of course somehow more links would be formed. It is a very noble thought. What’s in it for the companies? Money – big money. Kleiner Perkins, Benchmark, Accel Partners would not fund these people if there wasn’t any money to be made. They can tailor the ad campaigns, become a Match.com or a highly linked up “eBay.” (Upside of the social networking trend is that there is a new malady called, the social spam, which no junk filter catches, and as a result it is consuming bandwidth by gobs!)
The question I have is: why the F**K should I share my network of contacts with these commercial entities. They are like BlogSpot that does nothing for my brand equity and in many ways chews me out after making the network connections. Thus what I want is a “MoveableType” of social networking. Blogs took off because it was about one person – me. My social networks should be of my making for me. Lets figure out a way to cut out the middlemen.
A special application, which allows me to set up my own private Tribe.net. As these “private” tribes grow, I want the ability to exchange link-ups between “tribes” of my choosing through a format which is similar to say RSS or the XML-RPC. (Smart engineers can figure this out!) This application should be easily downloadable, and easy to install. The developer can charge for it – I would easily fork over $50 – will maintain the sanctity of my network, will insure the purity of the contacts, and if I have something to sell, share or offer, I should profit from it, not some Sand Hill Road maharajah or some dot-commer who is getting a second chance.
And in case you end up developing such an app, a tip of the hat would be nice. And listen to Frank Sinatra’s My Way, when you are developing this app. (Go on cuss me if you like – that’s why the comments section is there for. It would be great to find a person or two who actually agrees with me.)
Recommended reading: Social Software ideas