Thursday, November 1, 2007

Colonizing the Social Web

Back to this world, and back to business. As I have mentioned in a previous post, in the last year I have spent many (I mean, many) hours clarifying to myself what would be the exact point of application for my R&D start-up. I knew it would be connected with that most fascinating phenomenon we are all witnessing, web social networking. And, of course, it would have a lot of analytics and math modeling involved, as that is both my passion and my specialty. Well, I think I know now where to go. But, it is no time yet to make public statements. Instead, I want to mention a very interesting book I have just read on riding the wave of social communities. It is written by David Silver, founder of the Santa Fe Capital Group, a seasoned investor with broad and visionary perspectives. The title? Smart start-ups. How Entrepreneurs and Corporations can profit by starting on-line communities.

David Silver is very bullish on web and mobile communities, and sees the near future as the second step of a full-fledged large-scale colonization. Whereas the early history of the web took care of the basic plumbing, of building roads, docks, sewers, and what else, it is now prime time for creating communities that offer all services one would expect from a burgeoning colony.
In other words, the virtual equivalent of guilds, banks, schools, that turned a land of pioneers into a comfortable place to live. Silver provides a plethora of interesting scenarios. I shall quote just one, so I am not going to spoil the fun: a virtual money market exchange site, where you can trade real currency for virtual money earned in a multi-player gaming universe. He also gives a list of useful recommendations on how to bootstrap your communiteering business. Chief among his advices is: no ads. I think the fellow is right: who the heck wants to join a community where stupid and really ugly ads pop up uninvited? Plus, it sounds so big corp to work. Better let your community members generate content and revenues, and get a nice cut.

I could go on, but you get my point: if you are (as I am) interested in online communities from a potential business standpoint, take a deep look at this book. Only one minor caveat: to get people aboard may be a touch trickier than this sparkling booklet seems to imply.

PS By the way, David Silver is even more enthused by mobile communities than by web-based ones. The reason? You can make money by striking some deal with the service providers, each time members access your community.

Better learn real fast how to program in the mobile arena! This great new blog, by a true scout in the budding mobile software development world, is an excellent resource for the rest of us. Do not miss it.


Sobre Todo Verdad said...

I myself have fallen under the spell of social networking. I would have thought this was not possible, however, I have recently found myself polishing my LinkedIn and facebook pages.
LinkedIn at least has a work/career component, but I would have never thought I'd have spent any time with facebook.
This could be because recently I have a lot more time on my hands than in the past.
This saddens me.
I must be searching for social interaction online due to the loss of my usual social interaction in person.

Polymathicus said...

I know the feeling.

At all events, what you describe is already an endemic phenomenon. Whether we like it or not, a vast amount of our social life is moving to the net.

We might as well make it as enjoyable and valuable as it can possibly be!