A Mutable Log

A blog by Devendra Tewari

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A social network paradigm for information presentation

Information overload is not exactly news any more. It is happening right now with you and me. I have been pondering on organizing information so that, for example, we don’t miss that critical issue when we get in touch with someone.

Imagine a social network where you view a contact and immediately get to see all recent exchanges with that contact, all actions you have in progress in collaboration with them, and so on. The social network may provide some kind of a priority scheme and determine which of these actions are important to you and show them on your home page. This is not unlike what Microsoft Outlook tries to do, but takes the connection between information to a whole new level, allowing you to see information from different perspectives.

This could also spell the end of email. All social networking sites allow you to send messages or scraps to your contacts. You and I could use RSS to track receipt of messages and scraps and suddenly email wouldn’t be so important any more, we could do without email and spam.

There is only one problem to abandoning email. Like the internet, it scales well and everyone can build their own infrastructure. If only the social networks in the world could interoperate using open standards. I know a lot of brain power is being dedicated to this. Just google for social network interoperability.

There is no reason why the social network should be restricted to just replacing email. Helpdesk systems, CRM, ERP etc can hook into a social networking platform to allow one place access to all information. If all these disparate systems are implemented using a service-oriented paradigm, just about anyone can create a custom information cockpit to suit his or her needs, anywhere, on any device.

The Google search I mentioned above just revealed a post - The Social Network Operating System, from Tim O’Reilly. It resonates with what I have written so far, and takes the discussion to a new level. Do read the accompanying comments.