Unsocial Networks

The Head Lemur digs into Ning’s terms of service (similar to Flickr’s and YouTube’s, et. al) highlighting the problem: in exchange for free services “members” grant rights to their stuff to promote the “network”.

“None of these sites are created for the people. These are, to the last picture, file, and pixel solely created as businesses to make money for the plantation owners….People flock to these things like the little kid in the room shoveling horseshit, and exclaiming, “There HAS to be a PONY Here!!”

Sorry boys and girls, No Pony.
It is just another room filled with shit. They place ads around your stuff, and deliver eyeballs to advertisers in the electronic version of valpack coupons and junk mail.” – The Head Lemur

I don’t think it’s a fair trade either – it assumes that my stuff isn’t valuable in it’s own right unless it’s wrapped in AdSense. I wonder what one of these “social networks” would look like that places a higher value on their members’ stuff than on monetization.

Initial thoughts:

  • Members pay a non-trivial amount for access
  • Members can import, remove, and export all of their stuff easily
  • Members can kill their account easily – say, by not paying
  • The network considers members’ stuff private and won’t use it for self-promotion

From that list, I’m thinking BaseCamp or Joyent Connector are the closest things we’ve got.

Mike @ TechDirt says:

“Peer production only works when it creates value for the ‘peers’ involved. When you increase value in one place, there will always be somewhere else where that value can be captured monetarily….The mistake is thinking that just because peer production doesn’t involve direct payments that the overall value isn’t increased and that there isn’t a way to later capture that value monetarily.”

Yes, but, AdSense (and advertising in general) is an admission that the value is misunderstood.

One thought on “Unsocial Networks

  1. Hi Garrick — we actually have premium services that let any network creator easily opt out of advertising — $19.95/month strips out all the ads.

    Also, there are several ways to import/export data in and out of Ning — including via RSS/Atom feeds (which we automatically generate for all data on the system), REST web services API (which we also automatically generate for each network), and you can write import/export scripts in PHP or Javascript.

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