Microsoft toys with social software

Avid watchers of the “social software” scene have been galvanized by Microsoft’s recent announcement that one of its research teams has developed the core of a product called “MyWallop”. Screenshots show that the software would allow people to map their social networks and personal similarities between people in their network, as well as to blog.

In the last 18 months a multitude of social software applications have blossomed, including Ryze, LinkedIn, ZeroDegrees, Spoke Software, and many others. If Microsoft entered this market, it’s an open question whether it would swamp or stimulate existing efforts. Either way, there’s no question that its imprimatur on this type of software – and its distribution power – would mean that there would be massive uptake and usage. This in turn would allow the true potential of social software to emerge. The more people that are connected with this software, the more it allows the networks to become visible, and for people to become connected in new and useful ways. In short, it would be a massive boost in bringing the networks to life.

All the hype aside, this is one of many dozens of research projects that Microsoft runs, all vying for attention and resources, so there’s no guarantee anything will happen with this. However the attention this is getting – at least with the people I speak with – may well prompt Microsoft to put this higher up their list of priorities.

Experience the Living Networks in New York!

Since I wrote Living Networks, I’ve dreamed of creating an event that would literally bring the book to life, to allow people to experience personally the power of the networks and the implications for business. The first of what I hope will be a whole series of events – the BDI Living Networks Forum – will be held in New York City on December 4th, 2003. I have the perfect partner for this – the Business Development Institute, which combines a fantastic network of network-minded individuals and organizations with innovative business development services.

In the agenda you’ll see that the event is focused on creating interaction and what I call “enhanced serendipity” between participants. Using Spoke Software we will show participants their “relationship path strength” with all other attendees, and with any other individual, who they know in common. Litéra collaboration software will be used as a platform for showing participants how to implement collaboration effectively in and across organizations.

We have some great supporters, and there’ll be some awesome people along. Nothing like this has been done before, so I’ll let you know some of what we learn at the event. Or of course would be fantastic to meet you there!

I believe that events that use emerging social network technologies and effective design of participant interaction will over time become the norm. Hopefully “talking-head” conferences will die a natural death very soon. Events that apply living networks ideas will create immense value in bringing the right people together to create and share knowlege, ideas, and relationships. Be there at the birth of something big!