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SocialWhois, like Whois but for social media people

Wednesday, 4 February 2009 — by

SocialWhois is a proof of concept social media experiment into personal relevancy, based around interests rather than relative popularity. I think they’re onto something — but only if it they become a standard…

And becoming a standard is no easy task, but that is at least — in my mind — what they have to consider, if they’re to become the Whois of social media. And the signs are good, as they’re already compliant with several leading micro formats, which is key to building awareness and easing adoption of their technology.

I suspect the very existence of SocialWhois might be a backlash (of sorts) against Twitter services like Mr. Tweet that formerly gave added / extra emphasis to people who had gazillions of followers:

“This website is a proof of concept that a better Social Media can exist; a social media based on interests and “personal relevancy” instead of popularity. And this, really is the next step in social media!”

A bigger, better social footprint

Fo those like me, the goal is to increase the size, accuracy and relevance of your social footprint. SocialWhois handles some of the accuracy and relevance, but the size is — due to their young age — out of reach for the time being.

SocialWhois proposes to:

SocialWhowhat? No, it’s SocialWhois!

I signed up with SocialWhois last night. And while I think it’s a neat enough idea, it highlights a missing link between people search and a proper mobile social profile platform, which is what OpenID was supposed to be. In then end, OpenID has effectively stalled and gone nowhere, while Facebook Connect has massive potential.

A while ago, I wrote a Plugin for WordPress called Socialize Me! which displays a simple message to a visitor from a social media website like Digg or StumbleUpon that you’re on there, too. So from content authoring to eventual visit, my Plugin closed what I called the Social Loop:

“In closing this Social Loop, we’re attempting to bring people to the content from known venues like Digg, StumbleUpon, Pownce, et cetera, and presenting them with the option to connect with you.”

But this wasn’t enough. The problem with social media is that the conversation ends up being fragmented, with comments appearing on Digg, reviews on StumbleUpon and updates on Twitter, none of which are actual comments on your article. So the conversation you started has been taken elsewhere on the web, taking with it some of the value.

I wanted to change that, but I lacked the time and resources to develop something that would pull all of those threads together. Then came Facebook Connect, which offers a genuine shot at realizing my idea. I had intended to use Facebook as a basis for my own plans, so it was heartening to see those guys thinking along the same lines.

Facebook has the potential to be our mobile social profile, which we can attach our conversations to. For an example of what I have in mind, look no further than FriendFeed, who offer a similar take on my idea, with their multi-threaded items, listing all of the different things we’re finding and sharing with people.

If I was one of the guys behind SocialWhois, I’d be thinking about how much of a pain in the arse it is filling out yet another social profile, and consider just how much ground I’d be covering if I were to look at mashing up SocialWhois with something like Facebook, or similar…

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