Monday, January 30, 2012

Making Social Networks Something Constructive

In my last post I mentioned that I was practicing my coding my building a simple task-list and connecting it to Facebook. This gave me the chance to learn a lot more about Facebook's Open Graph and see examples of how it could be used.

Most of the FB-connected apps I've seen are cool and potentially useful, but typically not constructive. Spotify's connections into FB are slick and I've found new music or re-discovered stuff I hadn't heard in ages just by seeing what my friends are listening to. And I don't need to go anywhere except down my FB ticker.

But let's face it, something like Spotify's postings are cool, but far from constructive. And I know my task-list is similar. It's cool to be able to assign tasks to friends, but it's not going any where if that's all there is. That wasn't my point anyways since it was just coding practice. But as I was building it out I really started to think about how something really useful or constructive could be built to leverage FB's Open Graph or Twitter, G+, etc.

So this morning, I started playing around with Votizen and it's one of the first times I've seen something take advantage of the simple aspects of FB's Open Graph and make it potentially very constructive. Now that I understand more about FB's Graph, things started clicking in my mind as I went through a few pages on Votizen. Simple things like pulling in my friends' Likes of Political candidates or their frequency of voting is something which can be built upon and made into something much greater.

I won't get into what may scare people in terms of whether they want a site to track their voting preferences since there will always be detractors who don't want personal info shared out. Those folks needs to figure out what's personal to them and avoid posting or talking about it. Meanwhile, I'm happy to tell people who I plan to vote for and I want to know what my friends plan to do in that regard too.

Back to the idea of building something constructive on the back of FB's Open Graph...

I see Votizen as trying to change the paradigm of candidate endorsement. Rather than focus on famous or well-connected people or newspapers endorsing political candidates, let's focus on who WE want to endorse. Let's focus on who our FRIENDS want to endorse. Sure it'll be nice to know who Jerry Brown or the LA Times endorses this political season, but I see Votizen as a wonderful way to leverage the social networks we built-up so well and use it for a constructive purpose of getting and staying engaged about political matters. And rather than just seeing endorsements on my FB ticker, I see this as a way to build engagement amongst friends about this.

I look forward to what Votizen has to offer this political season.

I also look forward to what other constructive ideas are built upon our social networks. It's what will take FB/Twitter/G+ from a simple "time pass" activity to being way more useful and meaningful.

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