Fifty-five organisations and industry leaders gathered for a 2-day workshop on the Future of Social Networking in Barcelona in January, run by the W3C. One of its conclusions was that for Social Networks to thrive they need to create an open, mobile Social Web.
Highlights from the report:
* Many social networking sites have yet to take into account the special requirements of users with disabilities, and users on mobile devices.
* Contextual information, especially for mobile device users, can significantly enrich the social networking user experience.
* By enabling users to share profiles and data across networks, social networking sites can grow further and open possibilities for a decentralized architecture for the Social Web.
* Many users remain unaware of the impact of social networking on their privacy.
* Though growing rapidly, social networking sites (especially their business models) are hampered by lack of interoperability and could benefit from micropayment solutions.
From the release:
“Now is the time for the diverse social network actors out there to work together and resolve barriers to industry growth and stability,” said Dominique Hazaël-Massieux, W3C’s Mobile Web Initiative Activity Lead.” All social networks users, and especially young people, expect the richest possible social experience, but with full mobility, accessibility, and privacy.”
What we think?
While this report is aimed squarely at the on-line social networks, it tackles several of the big issues facing MoSos today. A relatively small audience spread out among a large number of mobile social networks is ultimately damaging to everyone. Shared profiles and easier cross-network access could really open mobile networking up. It also raised perhaps the most important issue of all, business models. While the networks are scaling up rapidly, there’s little evidence that their business models will be able to keep up. This is particularly true on mobile social networks, where everything hinges on ad-support. While users are traditionally wary of micro-payments, it may be one of the few ways forward.