The design & features of the next generation Social Network (Part 3)

Welcome to Part 3 of my 4 part series on the next generation of social networks. I’ve been talking a lot about social networks in the last week, so why stop now?

So now let’s get to the fun stuff. What should the next generation of social networks include, and how should they work in our lives? I can only give you an overview of my thoughts on what the next social network should include because, well, it could take me days to write down all the features I’d personally want, and I’m not about to give away all of my ideas and secrets.

Overarching Design of a Web 3.0 Social Network

Remember, the goal of a Web 3.0 social network is to help solve a greater range and depth of world issues, often by analyzing the data at its disposal and making good use of synergies with other services and products.

So what are the key components of the Web 3.0 social network design?

  • Utilizable for both business and personal use: The next great social network cannot only cater to one or the other: it must have the ability to be used for both. LinkedIn is business; Myspace is personal. Facebook is the closest we have to both, but it still falls into the personal side and it’s not simple to divide your personal contacts from your business contacts. There has to be easier division of use in this area.
  • Integration with search: I agree with Robert Scoble that integration with search could be a killer application. I do think that a combination of search and social network can improve search relevancy. Facebook search is an abomination, I’m sorry to say. Searching people, fine. Searching for applications, groups, people with specific interests? Eh, not so much. Better search = more efficient use and less frustration.
  • Integration with time and task management systems: Some people use the events they’re invited to on Facebook as their own calendar of events. Integration of these with an actual calendar system so we can better manage our lives is going to more and more prominent. If Facebook automatically filled in my RemembertheMilk task list with events from Facebook, or if it had its own advanced calendar and task management system, you’d see me using Facebook even more.
  • Data Portability: It must be compatible with services like Google Connect or OpenID. Linking my friend list from LinkedIn or Facebook to Digg so I can find out which of my friends are Diggers is a far better method than going through your email. This also allows us to link data to academia for research purposes.
  • Mobility and GPS Location: What do I mean? I mean that your phone is integral to the network. I mean that you can know whether or not any of your friends are in the city you’re visiting by simply opening up the social network. I mean the ability to get some data on the client you’re about to meet while on the train. ReadWriteWeb links us to four services to watch. Expect one of these services to skyrocket into prominence, and expect more to be acquired and integrated with existing social networks.
  • Recommendations: The Web 3.0 social network has to be able to extrapolate from our patterns and likes/dislikes data that will help us manage our lives. That means ads that say this movie is coming out (i.e. it knows you’re a sci-fi fan) or knowing that you HATE religious events (it’ll give you the option to ignore all of them).

Clearly I only gave you a few, but the thread in all of these is data integration and data portability. Integrating our data with other services or creating those services within the social network interface should, and probably are, going to be features of the next generation of social network.

In the last part of this series, I’m going to do my favorite thing: try to predict the future.

Coming in Part 4: My predictions about what will happen in the world of social networking.