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Social Operating System: Connecting Domains and Social Media

Wired Magazine (Aug 2007 print issue, page 50) defines “social operating system” as a platform for online living; a social network such as MySpace that seamlessly integrates activities including entertainment and shopping.

But Jon Udell points out that MySpace is not Your Space. He envisions a future in which each child would receive his or her own chunk of managed storage at birth. These virtual containers would be home to everything from baby pictures to grown-up blog posts. Of course, we’d want the ability for Bob’s Space to connect with Jane’s Space - suppose they are siblings starring in the same family vacation video, or co-authors of a research report? This means we’d need:

1. A universally accepted naming system - such as DNS, perhaps? Each container could be associated with a domain name;

2. A similarly universal “social OS” that governs container-to-container relationships, and allows videos to be syndicated to YouTube and MySpace, for instance, or wish lists to be accessed by multiple ecommerce providers.

I think the folks at GoDaddy sort of, kind of share this vision - but they stop at promoting domain names for kids. According to chief marketing officer Barb Rechterman, “a domain name may help contribute to the child learning about technology; eventually the family may be able to make an activity out of creating a Web site together.” But why eventually instead of immediately? And why intimidate users with the need to learn about technology? Why not present BabyName.com as a hub for keeping friends and relatives in the loop? Organizing logistics such as medical appointments and daycare? Connecting with other new parents?

Dotster goes slightly farther in exploring the connections between domains, social media and personal identity. Its MySpace promo suggests pimping your email with YourName.com. But its latest email newsletter’s headline was “save 25% on Windows VPS!” There’s a huge gap between wanting to have an online identity and knowing what a VPS is. And FAR more people are interested in the former than the latter.

Demand Media comes closest to building a social OS with ChannelMe - but only if you register a .TV domain name.

I think ChannelMe is a fantastic way to describe Jon Udell’s hosted lifebits. At the moment, Channel Isabel is scattered across Google, TypePad, Flickr, Twitter, etc. Many of the services I use are RSS-accessible - but what if there were one unified interface where my friends could create customized feeds out of all available ChannelMe programming? Where I could simultaneously update my Google Calendar and dopplr account, or Flickr and Picasa albums?

Ironically, while GoDaddy is the domain registrar for IsabelWang.com, it’s neither the gateway to ChannelMe, nor home to any of my content. Could Demand Media do better - if/when if frees ChannelMe from .TV? Or will the first social OS come in the form of “Google Apps for Me”?

By Isabel Wang, Domains Newbie

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