I created a post a few months ago about the social web. I’ve just come to the conclusion that my definition of the social web and the one that seems to be generally accepted are different. I do not consider a site that simply allows people to communicate to automatically be part of the social web. If this were the case, the social web would be anything but new as forums have been around for years and usenet predates the web (I think) and is still arguably the king of topic-centric discussions.
In my opinion, the social web isn’t about people socializing. What has the web ever been if it wasn’t about sharing ideas? The social web is about web sites socializing. Any web sites that pitches itself as a “web 2.0” site but doesn’t allow you to either integrate information from other sites into it or use information from it in other places is just a pretty face on an old site.
I’ll use myself as an example to show some of these ties. Some things that I like to do are create bookmarks, upload photos and create documents. I use delicious for my bookmarks, flickr for my photos am trying out both Google docs and ThinkFree for my documents.
If you want to know what people on the internet are linking to, delicious is the place to go. Their front page shows the currently popular links and can get show you some of the most popular link collections. If you only care about my links, it is the place to go as you can browse all of my links in very powerful ways. Want to know what I linked to during the NETA conference last spring regarding CSS? It’s there. The same could be said regarding internet-wide vs personal resources at Flickr and ThinkFree. What if you wanted to know everything that I was uploading? Without a single aggregation point, you would be forced to track my IDs at each of these sites. Instead, a simple visit to my blog aggregates my personal resources at all of these places into one view. I could, for example, create a page for a workshop or conference that would aggregate my postings to each of these services that was related to that event.
The geeky finale to this is that many consider blogs to be the start of web 2.0 and the simple conclusion is that it is because they allowed for the sharing of ideas in a new and personal way. This just isn’t the case. The start of web 2.0 was the creation and adoption of web service standards such as RSS, ATOM and other XML formats. The social web started when web sites began talking to each other easily. There are a few sites that really get this, but too many “web 2.0” sites just don’t.