As the number of different social web services I use continues to grow, I find myself repeatedly having to choose who to friend or follow on them. These services generally follow a similar process of allowing me to see if my Facebook friends and people I follow on Twitter are using the service, and then I can check my email accounts for friends.
While this process is okay, it’s far from ideal. There are some issues with this such as:
- The time it takes to manually select people every time on each service.
- The fact that I often want a different social graph on a particular service. I may want to follow different people in a music application than in a sports application. However, there are some people who I like to connect with on any service no matter what it’s about.
- The differences in how you friend or invite people between services can lead to mistakes or cause me to do things I didn’t mean to like posting an invite to someone’s Facebook wall when I didn’t intend it.
- Some services make it so easy to friend others that I find myself following too many people which can lead to a negative experience in the application. Others have spoke of this problem, and I think I’m currently experiencing this on Quora. The quality of my feed has gone down as I’ve followed people that I don’t really know and can’t remember why I followed them in the first place.
Anytime something like connecting to others is occurring on every service it is an opportunity to improve and streamline that process.
It seems as if there is an opportunity for a company to create a portable social contact platform. This would basically be a place where I could store contacts that I connect with on various social services. I’d like to specify a core group that I want to automatically connect to regardless of the service. This also would make it easier on startups who have to build this following process themselves. If there was a nice plugin or API that allowed people to follow and invite others easily it would save time.
There’s also some new ideas such as Color which try and connect you to others implicitly based on your activity opposed to who you specify. This is a really cool approach, but I already have seen flaws in the model thus far with Color although it’s still really early in that area.
Some will probably say that Facebook or Twitter already serves as this central repository of contacts that they like to connect with on social services. This is partially true for me, but there are people I follow on Twitter who I’m not friends with on Facebook, and people on Facebook who aren’t on Twitter.
Another way to approach this would to use people’s mobile phone contact list as that core group of people. While this is likely to include people’s true tightest social circle, I know in my case that this circle would be too tight.
These issues are why I concluded that I don’t think this should be leveraging something that already exists like my Facebook social graph or my phone contact list. Those things were built for specific purposes, and none of those purposes were “these are the people I want to connect with on social web and mobile applications”.
Is anyone working on such a thing?