One social-network repository to rule them all

Why is it so hard to bring disparate social networks together into one social repository of data?

I've stopped accepting requests to join new social networks. I can barely keep up with one, much less 10. More to the point, I don't want to have silo'd data repositories. It's this last point that keeps me grounded in e-mail.

Sure, we now have OpenID to provide a central clearing house for identity online, but what I really want is to be able to send a Facebook message and have it show up in my e-mail, or somewhere central that I routinely use. I've come to accept that my IM client will be separate from my e-mail client, but I'm not prepared to add a Facebook "client," LinkedIn "client," etc.

Is there something out there to collect and coalesce my social communication? Is anyone providing a central repository for my online communications? If so, sign me up. I'd actually use Facebook if the things I did there were portable to my e-mail client, which was portable to my Flickr activity, which get the idea.

Because each of these social applications forces me to live inside it, rather than connecting to other applications and storing the resulting communication data between them all, I use them sparingly or not at all. This is, I think, what Tim O'Reilly is getting at when he describes the social network as infrastructure rather than applications.

Will someone fix this, please? I think there's a lot of money in being that social network data repository. Heck, if Exchange weren't so creaky, Microsoft should be doing this.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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