Following my post on social capital and open social networks, Anshu Sharma responded with an insightful analysis of how openness could transpire. It may not strictly be a user provoked uprising that spurs Facebook and others to make a transportable social graph, but a new player, or perhaps Google, that doesn't lock-in the data.
I feel that the masses will not be the one's that change the status quo. It will be a game changer - a new Facebook or Google that will challenge the closed networks by offering a good enough service that is as good as MySpace or Facebook but is entirely open. In fact, Google could do this, and it would be much easier than you think.
He suggests that Google could take the necessary steps to avoid multiple IDs, message stores and friend lists by determining a person's top Gmail contacts and then creating a social graph as starting point.
It could be thought of as a federation issue. There is value in federating a social graph, running algorithms to map individuals and groups, such as a company to partner networks or an individual to another person on different social network.
Dare Obasanjo posits that social networks will eventually mirror the current state of instant messaging--a long and begrudging march toward in interoperability, with the more dominant services holding out as long as they can.
* We'll have two or three dominant social networking services with varying popularity in different global markets with a few local markets being dominated by local products. * There'll be little incentive for a dominant player to want to interoperate with smaller players. If interop happens it will be between players that are roughly the same size or have around the same market strength. * A small percentage of power users will use services that aggregate their profiles across social networks to get the benefits of social network interoperability. The dominant social networking sites will likely ignore these services unless they start getting too popular. * Corporate customers may be able to cut special deals so that their usage of public social networking services does interoperate with whatever technology they use internally.
On the last point, corporations are still leery of social networks. Many companies have banned Facebook and its brethren from their networks. As Dennis Howlett said in his late night video, Facebook provides a metaphor for what can be done, but it's not tuned for corporate usage.
Given the opportunity to leverage the social graph and collective intelligence in a corporate context, Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo or another company will figure out how to fill the gap. An alternative to the services with millions of members would be corporate-focused social networking tools, such as ConnectBeam or SAP's internal Harmony Project.
Whatever the case, within the next five years the social graph will find its home behind the firewall of corporations who want to stay ahead of competitors and hire the best people.