Social Networking Software Alternatives

I haven’t tried all this software yet. So I can’t endorse it exactly… But when I do give it a shot I’ll write a review. I hope to add more to this list as I find them.

OneSocialWeb The purpose of onesocialweb is to enable free, open, and decentralized social applications on the web. Its protocol can be used to turn any XMPP server into a full fledged social network, participating in the onesocialweb federation. The suite of extensions covers all the usual social networking use cases such as user profiles, relationships, activity streams and third party applications. In addition, it provides support for fine grained access control, realtime notification and collaboration.

Opera Unite Opera Unite is a new technology platform allowing you to share content directly with friends, without having to upload anything to a Web site. You can stream music, show photo galleries, share files and folders, or even host your own Web pages directly from your browser.

Diaspora (Due in October 2010) the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network

Pligg is an open source CMS (Content Management System) that you can download and use for free. Pligg CMS provides social networking software that encourages visitors to register on your website so that they can submit content and connect with other users. Our software creates websites where stories are created and voted on by members, not website editors. Use Pligg content management system to start your own social networking community in minutes.

Help me write a Story

I found this neat Ruby on Rails web app called Invent a Story. So I started a story with the word(s) National Enquirer. Basically you are given a few words to choose from and asked to write a sentence with it. Then other people are invited to add to the “story”. Here is my sentence.

Today I finally got fired from the National Enquirer.

SO go on over there and add to this web 2.0 exquisite corpse. Fun!

One Lesson from Startup Weekend Chapel Hill

I had a good time at Startup Weekend Chapel Hill. It was exhausting but a worthwhile experience. Here’s one lesson that I learned.

Find Data then Write an Web Application For It

When we brainstorm ideas for creating web applications we think about what you can do to data. Like how to present it, manipulate it, rearrange it, etc.. That seems to be the logical way to go about it. We take for granted that there is data out there to use. But is there really? Where is it?

For example: messaging, IM and SMS, is experiencing a serious surge in popularity. Web sites like Twitter.com are gaining mass use and expectance. The mobile web is another big frontier being explored by web developers. When we think of new applications to build we base our decisions on what we’ve used and what is popular. This can be a good strategy because it positions your app in a highly visible place. (ex. Pownce got bought by Google after cloning Twitter.) Plus if one app is popular there must be a reason for it. So why not make something like it.

The problem with this approach is not the lack of originality its the direction with which we think about it. Lets think about the data first. What data will our website application use? Where will we get the data? How much data do we need? And most importantly HOW CAN WE CREATIVELY PRESENT THE DATA TO MAKE IT UNDERSTOOD AND USEFUL?

At the end of the Startup Weekend Chapel Hill we came to a realization that their wasn’t enough data. For people looking for a place to work you need data about those places. For someone who wants to advertise a place you need data about people who want it. I believe the core team who will take on WorkPerch.com will find the data and put it out there. Lack of data is why the site was released as a invitation beta. A wise move IMHO.

The spark that got me thinking about this was Jake’s comment that we should purchase some data to fill in the database to start with. I didn’t know there where companies that sold data like this. But it makes perfect since. Sadly I don’t think we can buy quality real estate and user data we need. That is up to the community who will use WorkPerch. They must provide this so it can be useful.

My suggestion to future Startup Weekends and web app developers in general is to brainstorm your app idea but then collect a bunch of data first. With so many people working on a project you could easily distribute the effort to find data. Thirty people could gather a ton in a few hours time.

Then the team could verify who owns the data. Is it in the public domain? Do we need to license it? How much will it cost? Next the data could be shared and merged. Once its in a common file format like xls or cvs the data could be put into a relational database. Then the structure of the web app could be determined. How will the user navigate this data (flow)? How will the web app logic parse this data and represent it? (graphs, print to screen) How will the web app users add to the data or manipulate it?

This way of looking at web apps isn’t new. But just having another angle to think and to apply I found really constructive. Thank you Startup Weekend Chapel Hill participants for creating an environment where we could learn so much.

Oh and one more thing. Chapel Hill Startup Weekend was in The Town of Carrboro. That is NOT Chapel Hill. No matter how you parse it. I don’t care that its a few feet away. You can not lump RTP and Carrboro together. You can not lump Chapel Hill and Carrboro together. You can not dismiss the creative vibe of this small Town. UNC may be next door but its Carrboro where cool companies like Blog Ads flock. So much more than semantics. Dig it! 😀

Five Aspects of Effective Networks

Check out these Five Aspects of Effective Networks from Marty Kearns.

  • Social Ties
  • Common Story
  • Dense Communication Grid
  • Shared Resources
  • Clarity of Purpose

Marty fleshes out the 5 here.

How do I learn about this stuff? Fortunately I’m married to one of the foremost experts in this field, Ruby Sinreich. She’s a network centric advocacy innovator. I owe her a lot. Ruby has a great slide show about this here. Also check out Ruby’s Network-centric reading list.

Now what I’m going to do is translate these ideas, and others, to fit within unique business environments. Some of it is semantics and other parts are cultural. I’m still WAY interested in how positive social change can be brought about with network centric advocacy. But I’m also interested in how we can raise the social responsibility of businesses by developing social networking evironments. I think a big part of this is how people interact with each other online and offline. When people are highly connected they SEE each other as real humans instead of abstract numbers. I believe this can really effect the financial bottom line of any organization.

Social Network Software for Enterprise

Ed Cone has a great article on CIO Insight called Social Networks at Work Promise Bottom-Line Results. Its really got me thinking about the adoption of social network software by companies of all sizes.

Interesting synergy that I found this. I’m consulting companies about social software right now plus I’m checking out Microsoft’s Sharepoint. Wachovia is deploying it for all its employees. Its a Windows Server addon that creates a social network for business Intranets. Its got calendars, file sharing, blogs, etc. Nothing new to the web but rather new to the insides of corporations.

This has me wondering, what enterprise level social software is out there? I’m especially interested in stuff built to run with LAMP. (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) I think Drupal + CiviCRM could be one. But I’m not sure that combo has the interface that a big business wants. It would be great for small businesses, non-profits, and other organizations. I wonder what the largest user base of any Drupal install is?

I must mention activeCollab and Basecamp. Two very useable pieces of social software that are mainly hosted solutions. While I’m at it I gota mention Salesforce. TONS of businesses are using that now. Plus it appears to have a strong API and dev community. But these have a more CRM functionality. But they could act as online social hangouts. Ruby reminds me that there is a lot of software that can be used in social ways even though it wasn’t intended to.

Right now I’m checking out a bunch of other apps like Dolphin, Grabgrass, Drupal, etc. These aren’t necessarily right for big businesses but who knows… Have any other suggestions? Big or small?

When I was a AVID editor’s assistant in LA I went to a event where the famous film editor Gabriella Cristiani was speaking. She won an Oscar in 1988 for editing the Bertolucci film The Last Emperor. She spoke about the art of editing film. Not once did she mention software. But mentioned she gave lessons in editing. At the end I asked her which editing software she used. She told me it didn’t really matter which application I used. Good editing was good editing no matter which tool you used. That advice has stuck with me. At the time I was convinced I had to be a master AVID editor to make a living.

I think this good advice about tools can be applied to social software. We can build communities and leverage the advantages of the strong connections built no matter what software tools we use. True some practical considerations come into play and effect our choices. But I plan on remembering what Ms. Cristiani said when I advise people about what to choose. Each group has unique needs. I plan on serving them in unique ways each time. We’ll build what is best for the group at that time.

Plaxo Online Identity Consolidator

Plaxo is releasing software behind its Pulse service. Basically, by using Microformats XFN info Pulse will aggregate your various online contacts. So if you have accounts at gmail, msn, yahoo, flickr, twitter, facebook, etc. you can consolidate it to understand how they connect with each other and create new connections. The cool part is the software for Building an Open Social Graph (what Pulse leverages) can be downloaded for your own use. (tech note: this software is python that crawls for the XFN rel=”me” attribute. NOT a whole website cms type software.)

I got a MacBookPro with two OSes

I just purchased my dream machine. A MacBook Pro, 15.4″ wide matte LCD, 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB Ram, 150GB HD. Plus I got a Microsoft bluetooth mouse that works on the mac very well. My old ibook is still around but happily resting.

One of the best parts is running Windows and Mac OS X on the same machine. I’m as big of a Windoze hater as the next mac zelot but… I use Windows for work. Testing web designs in different browsers mainly. Windows actually does somethings a bit better. (blasphemy!) So I use both.

I set up Windows XP SP2 with Apple’s Boot Camp. It can resize hard drive partitions without destroying the data you already have. (not many mac apps can do this) This enabled me to dual boot. In order to use Windows I had to restart the machine and hold down the Option key. This gave me ability to select the OS I wanted to boot too. But only one OS at a time…

Because my work requires me to go back and forth testing on different browsers I needed to do something a bit quicker. (Despite the fact this is the fastest booting machine I’ve ever owned) Plus what follows is just cool as hell.

The solution was to use Parallels to run a real Windows install virtually. You might ask why did I create a whole new partition to install Windows on when I could have just created a virtual machine?

Parallels Desktop for Mac will boot a Windows install on a partition just like it’ll boot the OS in a file. This way I can boot into the Mac OS then start the Windows OS with Parallels then use Apple + Tab keys to switch back and forth between different applications in different operating systems. Parallels even shares out a Mac directory so you can read and write to it from Windows.

This setup is much quicker than using Alt + control or Alt + Enter to leave the Parallels virtual machine. Its so quick it actually keeps up pretty well with the speed of my work.

A big leap forward in productivity and power IMHO.

end geek transmission… thank you ruby!