Murphy's Law: Do Open-Source Social Networks Matter?

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JDK

In the results -vs- time consumption department I'm not sure (for most) social networking open source or otherwise is anything more than a need to feel special i.e. a lack of self esteem...thinking that anyone really cares what "you" have to say when ironically all those people that dont really care about you think that everyone cares about them and the fact that it's little Timmy's first birthday.   It all amounts to full circle B.S.  I'm not sure that even 90% of folks that use online networking for a business angle even weigh the results -vs- time thing.  Because if people started to do this I dont think any networking site would be bragging about how many users they have.  And on that note lets see some numbers on how many actually use their MySpace/Facebook accounts on a regular basis because based on a recent AP report in conjunction with a study done by Nielsen more than 60 percent of U.S. Twitter users don't return a month after signing up.  So take Twitters supposed numbers and subtract 60%....what you end up with is a baseline of folks who need to get some fresh air.....and a life.

 

No guy I dont remember from the third grade you can not be my friend.

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TheMurph

Somewhere between the retention rate and Twitter's massive growth curve lies the truth.  I don't think you can toss out a blanket evaluation that Twitter's overall audience should be cut by 60% to determine the actual usage specs.

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jwalch.hawk

Social networks aren't about whatever your "results -vs- time" metric is.  The fact that you think so is probably a large part of why you clearly aren't a fan of them.  Not that there's anything wrong with that - but it seems to me that you're a biologist telling me about the relative virtues of the engine in my car.

I don't think anyone has suggested that they *aren't* havens for idiotic narcissism (what you called full circle BS).  They are also wildly popular.  True story.

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jwalch.hawk

What's the point here, Murph?  The concept that community population is a driving factor isn't exactly your most earth-shattering insight...  There's a reason why Facebook, MySpace, etc. all love to throw around their user numbers.  I think there's something bigger going on here.

People don't care about open source social networks, and it's not just because they're imitating.  I (and many others) see the purpose for open source software.  I frankly don't understand what the hell the point of an open source social network is.  I bet you'd be glad to tell me, but how many others could?

For most people, there are no discernable advantages to this - unlike in software, where frequently there is the whole free thing (not that open source = free, but it often is) if nothing else.

Why do we need open source social networks?  Why would we want them?  These questions need to be clearly answered before they will ever attain the level of success we see in the traditional ones. 

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TheMurph

The point of an open-source social network is, funny enough, its greatest weakness: by open-sourcing the software in an easy-to-use format, the developers of these social network applications open the floodgates for anyone with reasonable Web knowledge and a hosting arm to produce a social network of his or her own.

Open-source software can thrive given a very limited user base -- at the end of the day, even a handful of people that see the value of an application and contribute to its evolution (or spread) can work wonders.  The same can't be said for the multitudes of social networks built on this accessible open-source technology, especially when the features of said networks closely mimic that which is already available.  A handful of developers won't be able to do much without a committed user base, and vice versa, a committed user base won't stick around unless developers are encouraged to push beyond the normal conventions of social media.

Truly, there are no discernable advantages to open source social networks.  Or, to phrase it differently, the disadvantages of launching a new social network tend to trump the "free" advantages of an open social network.   You hit it right on the head.

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jwalch.hawk

I think the floodgates bit is particularly important.  Even assuming the leading closed-source sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) didn't exist, I think these sites would struggle to retain a strong following simply because by being open source they can be extremely easily replicated (and incrementally improved upon by a clone).  In this game, a single point of entry might be as important as anything.  Multiple doors into the same room drastically reduce the chances of everyone using your door (unless it's a damn sexy door).

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