Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

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Another day, another product

It always surprises me nowadays when I think, "Surely this tool must exist on the Internet", and it doesn't seem to.

One of the topics that came up due to today's LJ outage is, "Is CommYou ever going to be a social network unto itself?" To which the answer is "no", I'm deliberately avoiding doing that. CommYou is about Conversation Dammit, and I don't want to mix it up with the 97 other features that people assume a "social network" should have. And I am bound and determined to open it up to *all* social networks gradually, so I don't want the temptations that come with it becoming one itself.

That said, I *do* occasionally contemplate the idea of building a sort of "micro-network", sitting over on the side as a separate system, that would serve as something for people who don't already have a compatible network. This would be a real and for true "social network" and nothing else: a system that lets you log in and manage friend lists. It would have *no* other native functionality, but it would probably serve as an OpenSocial container. (Because hey -- why not?) It might also allow outside manipulation of the network, so that external apps could, eg, provide UI to manage your friend list within their own context. Moreover, it would be heavily metadata-based, so that an external app could attach information to both objects and relationships. Basically, it would be the true social-network-as-platform.

To my astonishment, this doesn't seem to exist yet. It seems obviously useful to me, and has great potential for end users: it would be modular, so that you had exactly the functionality *you* care about. It would be built entirely on the open protocol stack (OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, PortableContacts) -- indeed, its entire raison d'etre would be that stack. Ideally, it would be constructed to be a network-of-networks, so that many instances of it could be run, and users could just cross-connect across them. (Or indeed, should be able to link to anybody via OpenID.)

Hmm. Does this exist? Does anything even close to it exist? It really should, but it looks like every social-network implementation gets the core idea mixed up with big bundles of extraneous ad-hoc features.

Damn -- I *really* don't need another project right now, but I abhor open market niches. And the core would be super-easy to write: all the complexity would be in opening it up completely. This is sorely tempting...
Tags: commyou, technology
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