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Global, Blogal, Social, Glocial

In this worldwide web of global wonders, I’m getting fairly cheesed
off with the number of social networks I’m now getting involved with.
From Facebook to LinkedIn to Plaxo to Bebo, they’re all starting to
mindmeld into one.  Add in Habbo Hotel, Second Life, Entropia and all
the other virtual worlds, and you almost lose the will to live trying
to keep up with them all. 

No wonder Ben Elton has just produced a comic book, Blind Faith, based upon the idea that those who don’t join in social media are jailed.  Here’s the synopsis, courtesy of Amazon:

"As
Trafford Sewell struggles to work through the usual crowds of
commuters, he is confronted by the intimidating figure of his Parish
Confessor. Why has Trafford not been streaming his every moment of
sexual intimacy onto the community website like everybody else? Does he
think he’s different or special in some way? Better than his fellow man
and woman? Does he have something to hide?

"Imagine a
world where everyone knows everything about everybody. Where what a
person ‘feels’ and ‘truly believes’ is protected under the law, while
what is rational, even provable is condemned as heresy. A world where
to question ignorance and intolerance is to commit a Crime against
Faith.

"Ben Elton’s dark, savagely comic novel imagines
a post-apocalyptic society where religious intolerance combines with a
confessional sex obsessed, self-centric culture to create a world where
nakedness is modesty, ignorance is wisdom and privacy is a dangerous
perversion. It offers a chilling vision of what’s to come? Or something
rather closer to what we call reality?"

I must admit, in a
similar fashion, I’ve started adding some frivolous banter to my
Facebook and twitters lately, such as "Chris is up", "Chris is down",
"Chris is square", "Chris is round", and even "Chris is masticating" (read very carefully).

Oh, it’s all such social fun with my global crowd of friends and
strangers.  However, there can only be enough room for just so many of
these sites, so where does it stop? 

I mean I was recommended to sign-up with another one the other day, Badoo.  This one’s a UK-based service. 

As
I registered answering questions such as "Are you tall, short or about
right?", "Are you fat, thin or just so?", "Are you available, taken or
inbetween", and "Are you straight, gay or all ways?",  I rapidly
realised that it’s just a website for getting dates.  Mind you, with a
choice of over 12 million people to date, it has become the fastest
growing website of 2007.  Furthermore, it looks like it’ll grow even
faster this year as a Russian VC pumped in $30 million and Russia’s
market for such services is tipped to be huge.

Meanwhile, in
Financial Services, we’ve also seen an explosion of social financial
services.  Most of these are not from banks but from new entrants, with
all of it starting with Zopa, who’s former CEO James Alexander is
speaking at the Financial Services Club on 4th February, through Prosper, the Lending Club, Boober, Smava and more.  There are even social trading and investment sites, such as Social Picks, a social network to get tips on investing.

Everyone wants to get in on this bandwagon. 

On the other hand, there’s also some admirable services such as this one, Kiva.
Kiva organises the redistrubition of wealth by promoting microfinance
in emerging economies through social lending from developed economies.
They even have an endorsement from Mr. Bill Clinton himself. 

Good for them.

Some
banks have jumped in there too, with Join2Grow from Fortis and the
Small Business Online Community from Bank of America, both targeted at
the start-up businesses and small firms.  And now there’s more and more
of these business networking sites cropping up.  For example, I just
got nudged into one today from BT called Bigger Thinking.
It’s got lots of nice videos and things about where the world is
heading with technology, as well as challenging ideas such as
Friedman’s notion that the world is flat.

Maybe what we really need is a bank to set up therefore a small business dating agency for getting loans to fund big ideas?

As
can be seen, the trouble is that the bandwagon rapidly gets full and
overflowing with too many, and so we will see some falling off over
time, both in this social finance and wider social networking world. 

The real question therefore has to be: which websites are the winners?

The
other issue is that, with so many of these websites out there, you can
get stuck in them for the day.  Between socialising in virtual online
business worlds and blogging about them, there’s no time left in the
day to do anything worthwhile!

So I’m giving up all of these social networks to live in the real world.

Is this the real world … or is this just fantasy?

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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