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The Connected Web

Phil Wainewright

Status as the Fulcrum of Social Networking

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Late last week, social networking site Facebook introduced an API that gives access to a user's status updates. The news prompted what struck me as a seminal insight from VC blogger Fred Wilson:

"I believe Facebook's recognition of status as the most important and most powerful social gesture seals the deal. Status is where it's at in social networking."

By 'status', Wilson means the sort of information that first became commonplace with IM, when users would let their contacts know whether they were online and how available they were — busy, on a call, in a meeting, out of the office, whatever. The link that Wilson makes is that this tradition has been built on and amplified by users of the Twitter microblogging service: "... a status message ... is massively conversational (something we didn't quite realize until Twitter users invented the @reply)."

Status is important because it provides the individual's real-time context. That can be a prompt for action ("I'm three blocks away, let's meet for coffee"), a source of information ("As you're running late, I'll move our meeting back an hour"), or even part of a business process ("While you're there, can you see if they got that delivery OK?"). As Wilson suggests:

"We are going to see continued innovation in and around the status message. We can use filtering, semantics, indentity, social graphs, and a host of other important technologies to weave a real-time web around status."

Many of those innovations will have relevance in the business world, which means business people may finally begin to see how social computing has some practical relevance to their daily working routine.

PS: On top of that, other people this weekend have been talking about other aspects of real-time context as a threat to Google's dominance of search. At last, scoial computing is starting to show how automating the way people relate to each other really can deliver some sea changes in behavior and outcomes.

Phil Wainewright blogs about how businesses are using the Web to get better plugged into today's fast-moving, digital economy.

Phil Wainewright

Phil Wainewright specializes in on-demand services View more

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