What if you were to combine the best networking and social aspects of Facebook and Crowdvine? I wasn’t aware of Crowdvine until someone added it to the wiki for BarCampBankSF. It first I was skeptical of YAFSNW* (*Yet Another Freaking Social Networking Website). But after diving in, I saw that it does certain things well, and does serve a specific purpose, though there is definitely room for improvement. Crowdvine’s purpose is to enable connections to happen, before, during, and after, a specific event, and even facilitate virtual connections with people unable to attend the event in-person.
As example, say you are in a new industry and you are attending a conference in another state. You’ve heard about some of the innovators in the field who are going to be at the conference. But you also know there are going to be hundreds of people there who you’ve never heard of before, and want to meet many of them to start developing your personal network. Crowdvine lets you see who is coming to the event ahead of time, and lets you designate that you are a fan of someone, and also that you want to meet someone. Because of the personal items that you can import into Crowdvine (your blog, twitter stream, and flickr photos), you can really get a good sense of what a person is all about via that source. This is very different from a friend on Facebook, where you can’t get any info on the person until AFTER you’ve agreed to be friends with him/her, and rightly so because it is of a personal rather than professional nature. Crowdvine is all about making connections that happen because of an event in common. And it’s pretty good at what it does; it really is an icebreaker to have heard of, and/or seen a photo of, a person who is going to an event that you are attending.
So this leads to the following questions: What does it mean to be a friend of someone? A fan of someone? If you befriend a rock star, is that the same relationship that you have with your other friends? Of course, this train of thought wouldn’t be complete without saying that either a.) there are no rock stars, we all put our pants on, one leg at a time, or b.) we are all rock stars, everyone on the planet is important. (At least to their mothers.) But the reality is somewhere in between; that we all choose who we want to look up to and admire, and the degree to which we do that is different for any given person and relationship. For some people, there are no rock stars, for others there are many rock stars, of varying degrees of brightness.
So can you be a friend of, and a fan of someone at the same time? I feel privileged to be friends with social media rock star Chris Brogan, as well as credit union marketing rock stars William Azaroff, Tim McAlpine, Gene Blishen (and many others!). In Crowdvine, I would totally mark that I am a fan of theirs. In Facebook, I have befriended them. There are other people who I am a fan of, but don’t really want to have that same “friend” relationship as it is implied in Facebook. But what about your “ordinary” friends? What if you are a personal friend of someone, but not a fan of them? (You know what relationship I’m talking about, it’s the one with your buddy who calls you at 2 am needing a place to crash for the night. Again.) Would they be insulted if they knew that that was how you felt about them? Or would they be ‘big’ enough to appreciate the honesty? Questions to explore in this brave new internetworked world.
On a related note, Chris Messina has written an in-depth report on the state of OpenID. If you are interested in the evolution of your identity on the web, and how that works across the slate of different social networking sites, this is recommended reading. Which brings up the next question, do credit unions have a role to play in web identity and OpenID? Do credit unions have an expertise or credibility which can be brought to bear here? Or, should the OpenID/online social identity be kept completely separate from the monetary (credit/debit cards, ACH etc) systems network? Is PayPal already the intersection between the two? What are the benefits and drawbacks from having these as a single network versus separate networks?
Amazingly enough, I am agog as social media rock star Chris Brogan DM’d me on twitter while I was writing this. Rock on, Chris!