27 November, 2006

The Rise of Social Relationship Mining and its implications

Social software is maturing out of simply 'connecting'. We’re seeing the start of relationship mining existing across services:
  • LinkedIn, the most successful business relationship network have added their ‘I recommend this person / company to the community’ feature (blogged previously). They are definitely going up the personal directory flagpole. With public profiles, LinkedIn represent an aggregator for other services.
  • Submit a name to Zoominfo and it will return a picture and relevant articles on containing that name.
  • Spock does something similar (Still in beta, but 100 million profiles mined apparently).
  • Proxpro does something similar, but to your cell phone (very handy) - much improved on their previous business models.
  • Hoover has partnered with Visible Path to create Hoovers Connect to allows users to mine their personal networks to find experts who might be able to help them whilst researching a topic.
By the way, what HAS happened to FOAF (Friend of a Friend) – the project that allowed people to define their friends in secure protected format. Was it a solution looking for a problem? Please comment if you know the answer.

One can mirror the development of these services with the development of the www:
  • metadata in each Webpage (page level)
  • Directories from Yahoo (directories)
  • Cross Linking from Google (search via relevancy)
The next generation has already started to occur: privacy private investigators. In the same way that you have pay be to alerted whenever your credit report is checked, garik is monitoring service that finds, tracks and monitors your personal information online. I can’t help thinking that this indexing service falls into the path of the mighty Google.

All of these services are ultimately half-way houses to fully fledged identity management where one manages one’s own information and who has access to it, when and why. Those in the industry can see the advantages of it, but really struggle with how to implement something that's easy for the mass market to understand.

Are microformats & semantic web the key to take us to the next level? I believe so.

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