Posted by: rolfsky | June 29, 2007

the time for a “social” client is near

With all the fury of Facebook washing over us, a new app space is glimmering, waiting to be snatched up. Social networking sites are transforming into aggregators as they open up their platforms, often rewalking the steps of those who have come before them. Over on, Jason Kottke has written a post entitled: “Facebook is the new AOL“. In his post he points to another article by Scott Heiferman warning of the dangers of buying into proprietary platforms merely to gain access to their walled-off citizens.

Jason worries about the cost of developing for “30 different platforms” and he’s absolutely right. After a market stabilizes, the option with the least appreciable overhead will ultimately become the platform of choice.

Demand is showing that here lies an opportunity for a social client-server app running on an open standard. Functioning much like an email client which acts as an interface to your mail via SMTP or IMAP, this will be the one centralized location for all your networking, messaging, blogging and personal publishing needs.

Creating hybrid online/offline applications tailored to specific tasks allows the best of both worlds with local, powerful storage and processing while maintaining the always-on receive capability of a mail server. Extending the existing naming structure of email addresses would provide an intuitive and logical method of accessing a user’s individual space across open protocols.

Why can’t I access my personal profile at ?



  1. I’ve written a bit about the potential of a semi-transparent social networking system that goes against the idea of “walling off”.

    Although you make an interesting point on the online / offline hybrid, I’m curious how it could be implemented.

  2. You could access your personal profile at

    And anyone can too, and she only gets to see how much you trust her to see.

    If she can provide a trustee in her request, somebody that is a friend of yours and vouches for her, then you can show her more of yourself than you would to a total stranger.

    And all of this is automatic. It’s software. Decentralized trust modeling. The profile requests are a part of a social messaging technology called PSYC.

    Take a look at it. It may be the thing you are looking for.

  3. […] a month ago, I wrote a post heralding the need for a new open “social client”, and Wired recently ran an article entitled, “A Slap in the Facebook: It’s Time for […]

  4. […] across multiple platforms and protocols. This is the underlying technology of the “social client” I described […]

  5. Hi Rolf. Nice article. I agree with your observations. I think communication is more important than the networks themselves. It is the true interaction between people that matters, not ust the publishing side of it (that is still the most dominant factor in current social network sites). For the mass, e-mail, mobile phone calls, SMS and IM will be dominant for a while, not your Facebook profile. If an open platform would integrate the different communicatin types, that might be the answer to this. I’ve written some idea’s about that in this post, if you are interested:

  6. […] client: Test-Driving Flock 1.0, and it’s good The “social client” that I was talking about may be slowly simmering away in the new Flock 1.0 beta. Flock is a […]

  7. […] If I want to track-back to myself, I could ask, why isn’t my personal profile located at […]

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