Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Video & Social Networking -- Respected Bloggers Respond

In my last post, I invited bloggers to debate the question whether video interaction (i.e., "click to call" video calling and video messaging) is a next logical and powerful way to extend the social networking experience? And, I gave my reasons why I believe the answer is a resounding "yes."

Uber-blogger Andy Abramson agreed with a strong, but "qualified yes," explaining:

"The recent AOL acquisition of UserPlane certainly points in the direction of two way interaction via chatting in social networks (at least that's why I would have bought UP). I looking at Video, or the concept of Instant Video, the going forward approach will be one of two:

(1) Evolutionary-where IM tools like Meebo that are web based (AOL, Yahoo, GoogleTalk are also capable in this direction) and work in an AJAX environment meaning they can update as presence data changes; or

(2) Revolutionary where the significant video players like SightSpeed, Yahoo, etc. offer up Ajax ready API's and interfaces so the Social Networks are able to integrate them."

In Andy's words, "Really what is needed some simple code that lets a member of a social network add their SEE ME NOW button that works with the video client software in a presence mode. The company that gets that button out first and working could have the edge in the viral explosion of video on the Net."

Luca Filigheddu agreed with both me and Andy with a "definite[] YES" in his responsive post "Social Video: A Must Have." Luca opined:

"Voice and Video definitely take social networking to another level. Video and Voice activate the two human senses that are now missed in the overall "web experience" of an internet user. But, as I stated for voice, video must be deeply integrated into the social networking context, it must be perceived as a part of that environment, not a third party client to be downloaded separately and so on. From my previous post:
Any user should be contacted through a click to call, any phone number available on the website must be clickable, presence is a must have and so on. It's a matter of integrating these tools and services pervasively."

Finally, Ken Camp offered his unique, and always insightful, perspective to the debate with his self-described "contrarian view", which I quote at length:

"Every time I hear, or use, the phrase 'social networking' my stomach rolls. Peter’s question is quite legitimate in the context of social networks, but having watched the YASN (Yet Another Social Network) through Friendster, Orkut,, LinkedIn, MySpaces, Facebook, and all the others I’ve forgotten really begs another view. These are all contrived networks of friends, which leads me to point out that I began my online social network more years ago that I can remember.

My first iteration social network involved the telephone. Rather than profiles, my friends were given numbers that I could dial and interact with them. Later it moved to computer bulletin boards. I used the telephone to “talk” to them. Still later it reached into Compuserve forums and a new tool called email. When Compuserve introduced gateways to the rest of the world, email became a global social networking tool. Usenet news groups were also a social networking tool.

Today we seem to rigidly define social networking in the context of which service has the most users today. I’ll take the position that the Internet (with the big I) is the only social network that matters. The Internet isn’t about protocols and programs. It isn’t about services. It’s about the people at the ends and the connections we make.

A while back I made the observation that *my* space is much larger than MySpace. *My* space is a global Internet filled with blogs, email, wikis, usenet, discussion forums and thousands of pockets that are communities of interest. It encircles the globe and touches millions of people today. And yet the whole Internet, this global network, fits inside my Treo in my shirt pocket. Yep, it’s in there. The whole damn thing.
Video is already changing incrementally how we use my social network. Every advance in video technology becomes just one more small facet of how our real social network changes."

Interesting perspectives all -- and all that share a common theme -- video interactivity and "connectivity" inevitably will become an integral part of the online "social networking" experience (with apologies to Ken for using that vernacular once again!).