Despite all the hype, social networking is still very much in its infancy.
MySpace and an early young audience eventually gave way to Facebook which currently dominates the social networking playing field. Consequently, Mark Zuckerberg replaced the Google Founders as the new Bill Gates. Yes, Linked-In may have had a stellar IPO - suggesting there is a massive line of investors waiting to get in on the next big thing. But who will replace Zuckerberg?
Even Disney is talking about the "next big thing" in social networking this week.
Interestingly enough, Andy Jerram out of the UK is peddling an idea that could trivialize Facebook.
The idea? The World Knowledge bank - which has the potential to be the next big thing in social networking. Let me explain.
Collaboration – The Holy Grail of Social Networking for Profit
Most current social networking efforts are primarily focused on group communications, with Facebook concentrating on sharing experiences, Linked-In on job information and Yahoo Groups on common interests.
Only Yahoo Groups seems to have a collaborative aspect, but the results mostly remain within a group and aren't easy to find for external entities seraching for ideas.
In short, while there is certainly a lot of collaboration going on across the web, there is no rigor to it, no metrics and there are likely millions of good ideas that aren’t going anyplace or, if they are, not providing any return to those who first came up with them.
Of course, while advertising is an interesting way to fund social networking, the revenue isn't necessarily related to the effectiveness of the product - only its popularity.
This means that not only could a network like Facebook be displaced, (as MySpace demonstrated), but the advertising revenue model may change dramatically based on the perceived effectiveness of the medium.
For example, a site capable of generating revenue directly tied to the services it provides could potentially improve customer expectations, while more effectively retaining its user-base
The Knowledge Bank: The Next World Class Social Network
The Knowledge Bank is essentially a social network focused on creating a conducive environment for project collaboration. It is designed to protect ideas, while promoting them to appropriate entities.
Much like crowd sourcing - but with a vastly broader scope - Knowledge Bank could become a central repository for ideas that aren’t created in companies, but rather formed collectively amongst like-minded individuals.
Indeed, there are many people who might have collective solutions, but single voices are often drowned out and unable to properly pitch ideas. In addition, many of those working on problems lack a central resource to crowd source a problem or find a solution that is similar and has already been crowd sourced. And of course, individuals or small companies don’t have the same resources as a large company.
Remember, banks were formed to protect and provide financial resources to both those who had them and those who needed them. Knowledge Bank is expected to do the same with ideas, whether they are individually or collectively created.
Indexing, focusing, aggregating, and monetizing solutions to both existing problems and anticipated challenges - once they reach a saturation point - could affectively allow individuals to compete for ideas with large pharma or other currently closed industries using their own investments or those provided by universities.
Because the work is created collectively and often crowd sourced, the results kick off with a baseline advocacy that could be dynamically harnessed to form companies or drive initial demand for resulting products and services. In short, the concept could evolve into a super incubator.
I don’t often get involved in ideas at this early stage but this one seems rather compelling to me. The Knowledge Bank definitely has the potential to change the world and really could represent the "next big thing" if Andy is successful in getting the initial funding round or finding a partner to turn his idea into a reality. Of course, it is also quite ironic that the Knowledge Bank would be an ideal candidate for itself.