Guesses About The Future of Online Social Networks for Clinicians

I read something interesting the other day on a blog about social media.

I believe Facebook will transform networking on the web from a largely social, recreational activity to one that has serious implications for business.

I enjoyed reading this belief about the future and decided I’d try one of my own.

I don’t believe Facebook will transform networking on the web from a largely social, recreational activity to one that has serious implications for business- but I think its bastard descendants might. The social-network-as-an-application-platform model is going to spread and be adopted elsewhere. Many individual social networks seem to be hot for a while and are then abandoned for the next, cooler one (think Friendster -> MySpace -> Facebook).

I think professional associations and other large organizations will have their own Facebook-like networks/platforms that are available in their full-featured versions only to members. It’ll be a serious and significant membership benefit…sort of like a members directory, except lots more useful.

The trick is that some users will be members of multiple (often related) organizations. A cardiologist, for example, might be a member of the ACC and of the AMA), each with its own Facebook-like networks/platforms- and re-creating their profiles and relationships in each one would be so much of a pain in the butt as to make building one’s profile in either platform less appealing.

The two social networks/platforms might be interoperable if they are built by the same third-party vendor, but broad interoperability would only be possible if there was a virtual monopoly of a third-party vendor providing the social networks/platforms to organizations- and monopolies aren’t good for innovation or pricing.

How much better would it be if all such networks could share data in a common format and by a common standard of information exchange. Imagine that you could sign up for a new social network and establish your profile and relationships there by just telling it to copy your data from another social network…or if you could see your friend on network ‘B’ from your profile on network ‘A’- even though you don’t both have accounts on the same social network.

THAT’S why tools like OpenSocial are important- even if they do get off to an iffy start.

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