Tag Archives | social networking

Social Networks: Not Just for Kids Anymore

A study released Wednesday (PDF) by Pew Internet shows social networking adoption among adults is growing at a substantial rate, although the under-18 crowd still makes up two out of every three users. 35 percent of adults are now thought to have social network profiles, up from just 8 percent in 2005.

The figures may be a bit misleading though. Even among the adult population, there is a large disparity. While three out of four 18-24 year olds have a profile, only 7 percent of those over 65 do.

Like kids, adults are using social networks for personal use more than business use. However, some seperate their personal and business profiles over several networks, the report indicates.

Half have profiles on MySpace, and 22 percent on Facebook. Professional networking site LinkedIn is used by 6 percent.

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Google Friend Connect? Confusing! Facebook Connect? Not Bad!

facebookgoogleconnectGoogle and Facebook have both rolled out new platforms designed to spread their tendrils across more of the Web than ever. The names–Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect–are similar. (Very similar.) So are the overarching goals, which is to let folks use login IDs they already have to sign into sites and manage friendships all around the Web. But the emphasis of the two services are quite different. And based on my wholly unscientific first impressions, Facebook Connect is more fully baked.

Google Friend Connect is pitching itself as an easy way for anyone with a Web site to add some community functionality in a hurry. (In that respect, it’s a competitor to Ning, which Technologizer uses to power our Technologizer Community.) It provides widgets for features such as Facebook-style Wall posts, user reviews, and finding and adding friends, and lets users of these features sign in with Google, Yahoo, AIM, or OpenID accounts. All of this involves pasting of code snippets into a site–it’s not much more tricky than embedding a YouTube video.

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Digg’s Problems Aren’t Going to Be Easily Fixed

There are stories on the Internets today about Kevin Rose’s talk in London during the Future of Web Apps conference. Specifically, Rose was tapped to to talk about the future of online news, and he was surprisingly candid about Digg’s problems while there.

A common critique of the site is that while it may sport some impressive user numbers — some 30 million per month, it only has a userbase of three million members. Of those, it’s likely that far less actually participate in “digging.” This means a fairly small number of Digg’s users are essentially driving what everyone else sees.

What results is a skewed sense of news, and has led to the criticism of the site, much of it warranted. It is also what led Netscape to create its own clone of the popular social news site (now defunct), and also gave birth to Yahoo Buzz.

Both those services did or have some editorial control over submissions. Digg has repeatedly refused to exert any over its own site, preferring to hand the keys over to Diggers.

Therein lies the problem. Rose is lamenting that the site needs to move beyond geekdom and get “real world relevance.” The way Digg is currently set up, that’s just not going to happen. When your user base is generally the same subset of online users, they are going to probably like the same thing.

Stories of a particular type will always rise to the top, while stories that may have relevance to others stay buried. Digg’s challenge is to start mixing it up, and giving other types of stories more visibility.

But that’s not just going to happen. Digg users aren’t going to start digging stories that are anathemic to their interests. In some cases they may need to be force fed them, which it is apparent that the company has no intention of doing.

Personalization may work, and from the reporting I’m seeing of the conference that seems to be the route Digg wants to take. But it still does not solve the problem Digg currently has, which is news filtered through folks with roughly the same exact worldview.

That’s not going to be fixed by redesigning your website.

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