Comments on Robert’s Social Aggregator Ideas

(This post is posted via Microsoft Live Writer – it is pretty impressive)

Robert wrote a great blog about his thoughts on Social Aggregator. He pinged me on Skype about it. Let me do spend some time to write a kind-of review about the thoughts.

A social aggregator can aggregator various information (not just RSS feed of a blog or Flickr account!) from many feed sources, store data in local cache(db) for performance and queries, user can apply different filters to get very interesting result.

This reminded me of Rapleaf. I just met Auren in Nanjing the last week. Rapleaf is a reputation management tool to aggregate all kinds of information on the Internet about a person’s reputation. It seems similar ideas with what Robert is proposing. I know there is difference. However, the challenge I think Rapleaf faces is, there are not so much information in the Internet space. (Auren, correct me if I am wrong). For example, searching my email in Rapleaf didn’t turn out to be interesting result for me because of lack of information. Hopefully one day, when user’s profile information expands like the total number of pages on the Internet does, this aggregation can succeed as Google did. What I am trying to say is, the current problem is not lack of aggregation tools. The problem is lack of enough sources for people to aggregate. For people like Robert, Isaac, Joi Ito, Auren, and me, maybe yes. Good solution. But for many people I know, it is far from useful. Just as I know not much about music, conducting, art, drama, and space technology, they may not know Internet well enough.

I have the same comments for the three bulletin Robert wrote:

  1. Use LINQ as query language?
  2. Social Aggregator
  3. Use LINQ as query language?Use LINQ as query language?

It is the lack of data, instead of manipulation of the data that matters.

The other comment I have about "Very interesting results that a social aggregator can generate" is, to rely on the usefulness of other application is risky; to rely on the usefulness of many applications together in more risky. For the aggregation idea to work, it has to find source that people really like to put their reading list on (maybe Amazon), or put their wish list (maybe eBay), then this application is useful. The problem is, it is not easy for everyone to agree on which service is the best, and use that one altogether.

On the idea of the previous blog, I think it is very cool application for geeks, but not individuals. To educate people to setup a blog or even an email address is not easy, not to mention to have everything ready (like Blog, Photo sharing, wish list….). I am not saying that it is not useful, but due to the high threshold, not many people is really "qualified" to be the user of this application.

In the YLF in Nanjing, I did a survey, and to my surprise, out of Internet space, even the most high-profiled people, or those archived people, don’t adopt Internet applications very quickly.

Blog is a big thing, just like email. I believe it is big because it enables anyone with Internet access to WRITE on Internet, just as email enables everyone on Internet can reach each other. These are really big thing. That is the reason I am not super excited about the idea of Social Aggregator.

P.S. I am trying to provide negative comments on this idea, as I think different ideas help to polish the idea itself. I am also happy to disclose that I am also the person who said FocusMedia is a bad idea. That means, based on my track record, if I say something bad, there are very high possibility for the idea to really succeed. 

2 Comments

  1. yup … Rapleaf searches public information across various community sites (like blogs, social networks, forums, groups, etc) and combines them as one profile.

  2. I read Robert’s ideas. Thanks for introducing them to your blog community. I share your healthy scepticism about introducing new categories of products for people to figure out. Then again, I thought PayPal was a pretty crazy idea (well 1 of the first 9 interactions of the business model to be more accurate) at the beginning, so what do I know? :)

    It might be wise to start by serving bloggers and avid blog readers, since they are the early adopters, and then figure out how that can be repackaged for the broader Internet community. For example, not all social applications have RSS feeds in exactly the way that I would like to get and manage them. Maybe there can be some kind of RSS feed processing where I can get a specific stream of useful information (e.g. Facebook status, or forum postings on my favorite forum without RSS feeds) and have it go into my Google feedreader. Another service that still seems broken is comment tracking. I want to comment on stuff but because co.mments and cocomment don’t work as well as I would like, I have no way of remembering where I commented. I really like the WJS comment page but wish I could scale this across blogs AND forum posts so I can track all my comments and forum posts in one place.

    Totally agree that non bloggers are generally not interested in adopting more applications unless there is a critical need for it. Also sounds like there are some ideas around OpenSocial and Marc Canter’s Digital Lifestyle Aggregator that are somewhat similar to Robert Mao’s idea.

    Interesting stuff…but whatever it is, I’ll use it only if it works with Google Reader! :) Jian Shuo, I’ll go vote for you on Rapleaf! :)

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