This week brought a parting of ways between Twitter & LinkedIn just three years after their relationship started, and as discussed on AllthingsD on Friday (Twitter Cuts Off LinkedIn — Who’s Next?) this is probably just the beginning of a clamp down by Twitter around who/how people access their social network. With increasing pressure to monetize their customer base, I totally understand their need to gain greater control over the user experience in order to give them a direct channel for ad sales. It is however a bit disingeniuous pretending that its a selfless gesture in order to ensure the “Twitter experience is straightforward and easy to understand“, but I guess that’s just marketing spiel.
What’s a bit more disconcerting about this move, all though again not hugely surprising, is essentially the battle of the social networks that is undoubtedly going to follow. It’s been increasingly obvious that we are moving towards a set of “social network silos” when what we really need is “social network interoperability”. In fact, I would argue that the social network is separate, in many scenarios, from the application that is writing to, reading from, and deriving insights from these networks.
As someone who frequently uses non-Twitter applications for writing to the Twitter stream (Hootsuite, Bufferapp, Twylah, …) this isn’t going to impact me in any meaningful way and in theory could be great for these other clients (as long as Twitter doesn’t kill their access also). Most these clients provide a nice simple interface within which you can post to all the various networks in parallel. This does of course create duplication across all the networks, but what can you do. If they won’t interoperate then what’s a gal to do :-)
And to end on a couple of questions, and my pet topic… standardization.
- What makes these social networks think they can control people in the first place?
- Why should I have to choose which social network I interact with?
- When will these networks realize that they can’t create a business model that conflicts with the user engagement model?
- What role will standardization play in solving this network silo issue?
On the standardization point, at the end of last year the w3c organized a Social Business Jam which brought together 1000+ interested parties alongside social web leaders such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Doc Searles, Paige Finkelman, Steve Ressler, Dion Hinchcliffe, Don Thibeau, and Evan Prodromou. The question of social integration was a recurring theme throughout the event, and the full report can be read on the w3 website here.
So who knows where interoperability is going in the short term, but without someone taking the proverbial bull by the horns, I suspect that we will see a fragmented and hamstrung social web with the only loosers being Innovation and the Consumer.