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A Survey of Social Tools

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This is a thinking exercise to evaluate social networking platforms.

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A Survey of Social Tools

  1. 1. A Survey of Social Tools By Ed Lyons Social Technology in Education Conference 8 / 14 / 2009
  2. 2. Contents What is a “social tool”? Tools we’ll be covering Evaluation criteria Facebook, Ning, Twitter, Open Source, Custom Analysis and Parting Thoughts
  3. 3. What is a social tool? These days, what isn’t calling itself a social tool? (this is the problem with buzzwords) While a huge number of tools have some sort of human interaction, the reason we’re all here today is because of the phenomena of MySpace, LinkedIn, Ning, Facebook, and now Twitter. But today, we’ll be talking about the tools that allow you to create social networks.
  4. 4. Tools we’ll be covering Facebook Ning Twitter Open Source Build your own (Custom)
  5. 5. Evaluation criteria I have created a set of characteristics that we will rate certain tools against. This is a thinking exercise. You should not choose a tool based on these numbers. My point is that you shouldn’t do a side-by- side comparison. However, this exercise should get you asking the right questions...
  6. 6. Scorecard Popularity 1-3 Extensibility 1-3 Trustworthiness 1-3 Startup Cost 1-3 Ease of Setup 1-3 System Integration 1-3 Cost to Maintain 1-3 Available Features 1-3 TOTAL 8-24
  7. 7. Facebook Popularity 3 Extensibility 2 Trustworthiness 1 Startup Cost 3 Ease of Setup 3 System Integration 1 Cost to Maintain 3 Available Features 3 TOTAL 19
  8. 8. Ning Popularity 2 Extensibility 2 Trustworthiness 2 Startup Cost 3 Ease of Setup 3 System Integration 1 Cost to Maintain 2 Available Features 3 TOTAL 18
  9. 9. Twitter Popularity 3 Extensibility 1 Trustworthiness 1 Startup Cost 2 Ease of Setup 1 System Integration 1 Cost to Maintain 3 Available Features 1 TOTAL 13
  10. 10. Open Source Popularity 1 Extensibility 3 Trustworthiness 3 Startup Cost 1 Ease of Setup 1 System Integration 2 Cost to Maintain 2 Available Features 3 TOTAL 16
  11. 11. Custom Popularity 1 Extensibility 2 Trustworthiness 3 Startup Cost 1 Ease of Setup 1 System Integration 2 Cost to Maintain 1 Available Features 1 TOTAL 12
  12. 12. Do the totals mean anything? Facebook 19 Ning 18 Twitter 13 Open Source 16 Custom 12
  13. 13. No, but.... For most people, only a few of these things matter. If you don’t get high scores on those, forget the rest! We’ll do the top three (in order) for different uses. A political party: popularity, cost, features A community theater group: cost, ease of setup, features A government agency or large corporation: trust, extensibility, system integration A high school: trust, cost, features A university: features, trust, system integration
  14. 14. Parting Thoughts For schools, the things you might say: “If this doesn’t talk to other systems, it will be viewed as a toy.” (System integration) “For our audience, control over the data is everything.” (Trust) “We just don’t have any money for this.” (Startup cost) “A lot of what we need to do just doesn’t exist.” (Extensibility) “We need something right away.” (Ease of setup) You’ll discover that there are going to be tradeoffs. How to decide among them? Optimize for the student experience. If they are excited about it and are learning, all other obstacles can be overcome. If they aren’t, it will not matter that the tool can talk to the class schedule system or that it’s cheap or that it’s easy to maintain.

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