WordPress & Moveable Type to Throw Social Graph for a Loop

Over the past few years, there has been increasing tension among the owners of social networks and the users that interact with their friends via the sites. The primary tension resulted from the disconnected set of relationships across multiple sites and the inability to have a central location to manage our multiple identities. Hundreds if not thousands of solutions have popped up.

Some have come in the form of branded products while others have been categorized as new standards. One thing that hasn’t changed throughout all of the discussion about resolving the problem? A solution. While some of these offerings have a clear advantage over others, none of them have succeeded at attracting mainstream adoption.

Social Networks as the Hub

The best attempt at centralizing the social graph has been Facebook who arguably has the most accurate mapping of the social graph of any of the social networks to date. With their Facebook Connect offering as well as MySpace’s Data Availability product, both companies now have a chance to own our online identities. It is not as simple as releasing the products though.

MySpace released their Data Availability product back in June. As far as I can tell, the service has seen little adoption by developers. While I’m not completely sure about the slow adoption, based on the developers I’ve spoken with, it appears as though Facebook Connect could experience much quicker adoption.

The potential for centralized identities is significant and given their position as the largest global social network, Facebook has a shot at centralizing the majority of users’ identities online. For once, it seems as though there is a company that may actually have the ability to centralize registrations as well as identities and also has the adoption to back it up.

The digital landscape is glorious and simply when you keep everything else constant. Unfortunately things are not that simple.

Let’s Mess Things Up Some More

There are a lot of products on the web that would benefit from having their own social networks integrated into their sites. There are also a lot of brands that would benefit from having their own social networks. It’s for this exact reason that a whole slew of white label social network solutions were launched. Jeremiah Owyang has done the work of compiling a list of white label social networking platforms.

The problem with all of these different solutions is that they each have their own login and their own closed off versions of the social graph. I shouldn’t be letting Facebook and MySpace off the hook though because even their new services result in large, closed-off versions of the social graph as well. The difference is that they actually have a chance at becoming the central location of users’ identities online due to their broad reach.

Last week a large discussion ensued about the soon to be ubiquitous, blog-based social networks. Sarah Perez of Read/Write/Web suggested that the new version of Moveable Type and the upcoming launch of BuddyPress would mark a new era for blogs. Mainly that a large number of blogs will begin launching their own social networks. Duncan Riley provided the counter-argument, suggesting that people don’t have the time to join multiple social networks.

Whether or not people have time, it is clear that the launch of new services by Moveable Type and WordPress will most definitely complicated central identities further. Moveable Type will claim support of OpenID and WordPress could theoretically centralize users across all the blogs users become members of. This makes it easy for both to claim that they really aren’t complicating things that much.

Conclusion

The web is still a cluster f*ck. With a bunch of disconnected groups trying to provide centralized identity services and a bunch of disconnected sites and services looking to connect users, digital identities have become even more complex. All the while Silicon Valley thought leaders are struggling to make sense of it all. While there are big players that have a chance at making centralized identities mainstream, we are still at the early stages of these things becoming a reality.

Thankfully both WordPress and Moveable Type are open-source and as such, it will be trivial to integrate existing services into the site. With the average blogger finding it complicated to modify the code of their site though these things could further complicate our online social graphs. We now have communication among our numerous contacts spread across email, messages on Facebook and MySpace, instant messaging and multiple other locations.

There’s about to be yet another place for those communications to happen: blog-based social networks. How do you think all of these things will fit together? Do you thing blog-based social networks really complicates things?

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