Sunday, July 29, 2007

Why are walled gardens so popular for social networking?

The raw beauty of blogging as a tool for social networking is that anybody can "converse" with anybody else anywhere simply by posting and linking. And anybody can start a blog. No membership is required. Who could want anything more? Well, it seems as though quite a few people actually prefer the elitism of closed "Members Only" social networks. In many cases anybody can "join", but unless you agree to the terms of each of these social networking "walled gardens", you are out in the cold and not a "member of the club."

Now I do understand the raw motivation of the proprietors of these private "clubs", which is simply to give themselves a monopoly over the monetization of the "eyeballs" within their walled gardens, and also to permit themselves to enjoy the thrill of exerting control over their fellow citizens.

Evidently, quite a number of people actually enjoy the thrill of being an elite "member" and being a part of a "special" community. The odd thing is that people are free to make their own communities with blogging tools, but for some reason the exclusiveness of the proprietary walled garden appeals to them.

Without even thinking about it, I do belong to a few of these communities. I have a profile and "connections" on LinkedIn, a page on MySpace, a username on Twitter, etc.), but I rarely use those "communities." I personally prefer the sense of raw freedom of "open blogging" over retreating to the "community" du jour walled garden. I could get an account on Facebook now that they are "open", but... yawn... why bother?

What about Pownce? Well, I haven't been invited yet. Even if I were invited, I would probably turn it down as a matter of principle. For amusement, I actually did request an invitation. I am interested in keeping up on technology, even if I don't have any need or desire to use it myself.

Nonetheless, I do respect that a lot of people have a "need to belong" that is satisfied more from closed, tight communities rather than open communities as are found with blogging and email lists.

Alas, so many of these "hot" social networking "communities" are destined to turn into online ghost towns or at least the online equivalent of "sterile suburbs", but while they are still hot, community-seekers will flock to them.

-- Jack Krupansky


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