Over the past couple of days, I’ve been alerted to a couple of new MyBlogLog-like distributed social networks that are attempting to provide a meta layer of social media functionality across existing online communities.
I find this to be a fascinating model with a ton of potential. As I wrote about MyBlogLog back in October of last year:
When I think of the hundreds of destination site social networks (many of them funded) vying for visitors attention, and a look at the tiny handful of businesses trying to enhance community functionality for the millions of blogs out there, I see a big disconnect. If I were investing in these sorts of opportunities, I’d be a lot more interested in hearing about MyBlogLog’s plans that some “MySpace of ______” site.
But it’s not just the relative lack of competition that makes this such an interesting space. Just as the link friendly nature of the blogging platform has bound together like minded blogs and content, distributed social networks have the potential to make connections between the people that frequent these communities across multiple domains.
Social networks provide great tools for interacting with others, as long as the folks that you want to interact with are members of the same site. And as great as the blogging platform is for connecting content with links, it is a lousy format for building community. Communities that have arisen around specific blogs have done so in spite of the blogging platform, and not because of it.
There is clearly a need to extend the social media revolution to the edge – to enable interaction and facilitate content and people introductions across domains.
The primary obstacle that this new breed of distributed social networks will have to overcome is to convince folks to embed their code into the existing community’s page. If you are trying to build a meta layer of community across blogs, you will need to convince the blog owners of the value of your embed. If you are trying to tie disparate social network profiles together, you will need to convince influential members of the various communities to give your embed a whirl.
MyBlogLog overcame this hurdle in dramatic fashion, by convincing a couple of influential bloggers of the benefit of their service (community!), and letting things snowball from there.
As well as MyBlog has done, they have not yet won this space. As I said back in my original MyBlogLog review:
In my opinion, the three features that are absolutely fundamental to online community are; 1) enabling user to user communication; 2) displaying a user’s historical site activity; and 3) and providing a reputation / recognition system.
Currently, MyBlogLog is only providing the first one. Users can message each other through the MyBlogLog site, but they can’t browse through comments that they (or others) have posted, or get a glimpse of members’ community and overall reputation.
What will be the next distributed network service to start snowballing through the blogosphere and SNS communities? Over the next few days, I’m going to be reviewing some of the players in this space. If you’re working on something like this, or know of a cool distributed social network, please drop me a note.