The biggest opportunity for the expansion of social networks is to build bridges between these isolated islands, delivering a more fulfilling, meaningful and productive experience.
As I see it, we will start to see a the social web not as a collection of distributed islands, but as one greater collective better known as a human network – a contextual and relationship-based network that consists of like-minded individuals no matter where their profile resides.
This is what apparently Twitter and LinkedIn have announced yesterday night: LinkedIn users will be able to publish status updates to their Twitter profiles and pull in some or all Twitter updates to their LinkedIn accounts.
Here is a first reaction from Read Write Web:
Twitter is arguably better for listening than it is for broadcast and conversion of marketing messages. This kind of cross-posting deal falls short of the huge potential latent in the data both of these companies control and instead appeals to the craven broadcast-model of marketing. Challenging that broadcast-model is where many people believe social media derives its meaning.
What could this look like? It could look like an option to view the employer and job title of anyone you see on Twitter or through a 3rd party Twitter interface. It could look like Twitter opening up its fire hose for unfettered 3rd party analysis and development – then you’d see social graph and content analysis done that gave a big boost to the User Experience on LinkedIn. (”This LinkedIn user has been conversing with friends on Twitter who were talking about ‘mobile,’ ‘Wisconsin’ and ‘gaming’ over the last 2 weeks.”)
Whatever the case may be, both occupational data (LinkedIn) and social messaging data (Twitter) are rich green fields for mashups and analysis – but these two companies are holding back the tide of innovation by refusing to offer a clear path to their data by outside partners.