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Reality bites

Today a couple of posts wondered out loud if social networking has peaked

In particular, Malik thinks that the market has transitioned onto niche social networks, in his words

The way I see it, the market has shifted its focus onto niche social networks, such as those dedicated to sports, music, automobiles and pets. You know, sites like Dogster! They have focused, engaged communities, which means they can attract a higher amount of advertising dollars.

In the very first comment on that post,

Niraj said:

While it would be easier to monetize, I can’t see the niche site idea working very well because users would have to sign up at several sites to cover their different interests. Facebook and Myspace’s broader appeal give them a much larger base, and it seems like a tradeoff: easier to monetize versus easier to gain users.

Like Malik, I am seeing a shift to niche social sites because it is getting incredibly harder and harder for horizontal play sites to gain mass traction, I am also speaking from personal experience with my video aggregation site, JiggyMe.

But Niraj does have a point that it is a pain for users to repeatedly sign up and re-enter the same profile information and recreate the social graph over and over. And this is what data portability advocates have always said, a user shouldn’t have to do that time and again. The real value-add for social sites should be the services they provide, not the user and social graph data. I am seeing this happening already now with projects like DiSo, Google Friend Connect, Open Social Foundation, Google Social Graph API, and stealth startup These startups and projects aim to make user and social graph data more open and accessible so social sites can instead focus on providing value-add services instead of keeping users data walled in. Mind you, this is just the start and there is plenty of work to be done to make the user experience seamless, but it is a good start.

Master of My Domain

The infamous Seinfeld line “Master of My Domain” comes to mind when I learn of a new upcoming social network ( to debut summer 2008 ) called My first impression was “Do we really need another social network?” Isn’t there enough social networks to numb the mind causing further social network fatigue? At least that’s how I feel when I read the unending stream of posts at sites like Techcrunch, they are a blur and rarely stands out.

The same goes for the numerous data portability standards or solutions, there are just so many of them out there solving the same problem over and over again and not going anywhere. At this point data portability isn’t about lack of technology, it is about too much technology and not enough consensus, which is why I think came about with a goal to bring consensus, at least that’s the idea, execution will determine success or failure. Which leads me to wonder how did some of these standards rose above the fray and got adopted by the community, standards like openID, OAuth, microformats are some examples. Perhaps more thoughts on this later in another post – feel free to share if you have any thoughts on this.

So back to I learned about it from a CNet post The Web 2.0 economy hangs in limbo talking about Mashable enlisting to throw a party like it was 1999 (Prince and first internet boom comes to mind) all over again. Digging further leads me to’s blog, At first glance, the first post Feudalism 2.0 (or serfing the web) gave me pause for “seriously, another social network? Argh”.

However, once one of the founder (Tony Haile) clarified for me how is different than other solutions like People Aggregator or Ringside social application platform, a light bulb went off for me.’s basic premise is that instead of relying on social networks like MySpace or Facebook to host your profile and your relationship goodness keeping you and your friends prisoner behind their walled gardens, you host “you” on This is done by you having your own domain, e.g.,, that is mine and only mine. Social networks can then interact with your domain to gain access to your identity, profile, and friends information at your discretion. Now you see why the expression “Master of My Domain” comes to mind for IMO this is disruptive technology and a great next step in data portability. also claims to make it open so that I can take my information to another service provider if I don’t like their service. Great stuff.

On a personal note, I am not enamored with the domain name “”, I know it is short for “Content Hub and Identity Management Platform” but makes me feel like an un-evolved user who is only capable of pushing buttons or doing menial tasks for rewards. Plus Content Hub and Identity Management Platform is just well too geeky (even though I am a geek) for my taste. Now, “Master of My Domain” that’s something a non-geeky user can relate to, not to mention it’s a double (or is it triple) entendre. Interestingly enough, I started having some new startup ideas of my own that could be potential partners to something like, I registered and got the domain name before I learn of, coincidence or fate? I would relish the opportunity to work with them.