This is a visualization of my online social life. Click on the image to visit it online, from where you can directly jump and connect to any of my online profiles. Read the description below.

Mahendra_Social_Map

The Ecosystem

This is not at all as complicated as it might first appear. The red lines are my manual activities, blue lines show the RSS feeds, and the green lines are automatic notifications/pings/updates. The idea is to automate as much as possible, keeping in mind long term data portability goals.

I write here at An Unquiet Mind and at MakeUseOf.com. I maintain a professional profile on LinkedIn, a personal one at Facebook. My @SocialGeek Twitter account is for technology focused topics, while @Palsule is for personal use. I use Friendfeed and Chi.mp for lifestreaming and aggregation.

Create-Share-Discover-Collect

This model is one way to look at my social life. I create content on two blogs. I share this content via Twitter/Friendfeed/Chi.mp. I discover new content on Friendfeed, Twitter, Google Reader, Blogs, and Facebook. I treasure the content I like via bookmarks, favorites, etc. My treasure is automatically shared via my Lifestream.

Manual Activities

When browsing, I bookmark or favorite various links on the social networks like Digg. I also visit Facebook and Friendfeed. Links in tweets also lead me to new links in my browser. I use dashboard applications like Tweetdeck / Seesmic / etc. for Twitter.

I have hidden obvious event flows (such as links clicked in email/IM) in the interest of overall clarity.

RSS Feeds

An Unquiet Mind feeds go to LinkedIn, Friendfeed, Chi.mp, and Facebook (when it works). My MakeUseOf feed is shown here in the sidebar. I subscribe to feeds using Google Reader.

Automation

I use BackType to track comments I make across the web. Whenever I comment on your blog, or any other site, my comment is picked up by BackType, which sends me a link every day listing all the comments I’ve made. BackType also tweets this link automatically for @SocialGeek. I can follow interesting people’s comments around the web by following them on BackType, and others can follow me too.

When I update my LinkedIn profile, or share an item in Google Reader, it gets pushed to Friendfeed and Chi.mp. Friendfeed automatically tweets the link for @SocialGeek. Whenever I tweet using the Dashboard, Friendfeed posts it to my feed.

When I Digg, Stumble Upon, or bookmark on Delicious, it gets posted to my Friendfeed and Chi.mp. Similarly when I upload or favorite a photo/video in Flickr/You Tube, Friendfeed and Chi.mp catch it.

Principles and Objectives

I am waiting for Twine to let me import my Delicious bookmarks as I’m excited about the semantic web. I am rooting for Open ID, data portability, and the semantic web.

There was a time when ‘ME’ meant my blog, the place I felt was my home on the web. That changed with bookmarks, photos, posts on other sites, various discussions via comments on other blogs, social networking sites like Orkut/Facebook, etc. We entered the decentralized era. But I would still like a place to call my home. That is why I like my Lifestream (to which you can subscribe, just like RSS).

I am not an advocate of Facebook. It is a data silo wielding enormous power and I do not trust it. Friendfeed is an excellent aggregator, and networks me with many interesting people. However, it is also a data silo, as it does not commit to data portability. Hence, I am presently rooting for Chi.mp. With my own free domain name (mahendrapalsule.mp), it aggregates my social presence, while remaining committed to data portability. It is still a new service, and I am hoping they will add more features as quickly as possible.

Questions? Comments? Feedback?

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18 thoughts on “My Online Social Map

  1. Very cool! I am going to post this on my facebook page. I was only half-joking when I asked you whether you had mapped out your own personal information architecture for social networking 🙂

    It’s always nice to know one has inspired someone to do something interesting, if not something great. And doubly nice when it is publicly acknowledged by that someone! Thank you, Mahendra! May your tribe increase!

    And oh – based on your article in make use of, I went ahead and got myself a chi.mp domain etc., and also explored some of the other useful stuff you’ve reviewed. Thanks for that too.

    Cheers,
    H

  2. OMG. If my mother refers to me as one of ‘those internet people’, I wonder what she would call you!

    I think I use about a third of the tools you describe here, and the ‘sharing’ and ‘collecting’ parts are virtually absent. However, I did not understand the rationale behind having the .mp website (probably because I didn’t think enough). You could eliminate flickr n picassa once you have a personal domain too, but they are nice to have.

    I like the overall focus of your online presence – I feel it revolves more around discovering and sharing. You are also trying to make most of the process sustainable by using automatic notification. But I am curious, how long will you be able to sustain these networks? And which of these are critical paths? (say from tomorrow you get to spend only x/2 hours online)

  3. Priyank, 🙂

    The rational behind the .mp website is nothing but Lifestreaming. It is my home on the web, the center of my social profile. Whatever I do online, gets to my site (automatically). Once chi.mp improves features, I might move my blogging to that domain instead of here, for example. Then my blog posts will be streamed into my overall lifestream.

    The concept of lifestreaming sounds new to some at first, but essentially, Twitter (what are you doing now? what did you just see and like?) and Facebook (what is on your mind?, what is your ‘status’?) are just lifestreaming. Problem is Facebook and Twitter are separate domains with separate networks. Chi.mp aggregates both, just like Friendfeed. If Friendfeed does it, why Chi.mp? For reasons related to data portability that I mentioned.

    The reason aggregators are useful is because not everyone is on every network. For e.g. some folks share my bookshelf on Shelfari, some on GoodReads, while some share my movies and book collection on iTrackMine. With chi.mp, you don’t need to be on any of these networks to see which new book I read, or which new movie I added to my collection and read my book or movie review. With Friendfeed/Chi.mp you simply subscribe to my lifestream without joining any other network.

    I liked your question regarding critical path. If you see it only applies to my manual activities, since the rest is automated. Bookmarks and favorites are just single-click affairs. In the Create-Discover-Share-Collect model, the share-collect is virtually instantaneous. How I spend time between creating and discovering is critical and depends on personal choices, life situations, and so on. If online time reduces, I would reduce both creation and discovery. If there is hardly any time to create, I just discover. In short, sustaining these networks doesn’t take any effort at all! In fact, I’ve omitted some identity profilers like Retagger, Gaizabonts, DandyID, etc.!

    Thank you for observing the focus of my online presence. Yes, I am online because it enriches me. It enriches me only if I enrich others. The more you give, the more you get, online. 🙂

  4. Dev, nothing heavy here from a user perspective. This visualization makes it look complex. When you start using these individual sites/services, it’s just like normal web browsing!

    Integrating it all to make sense and optimizing it is what geeks like me do for a living. Without any scripts to write and any films to act in, we have ample of free time! 🙂

  5. Wonderful work, and it’s very comprehensive. And I see that Google chrome hasn’t featured in your series of browsers. 🙂 Anything in particular against it?

  6. Oh nothing like that! I couldn’t find any other suitably sized image depicting browsers in Gliffy, where I created this! 🙂 I love Chrome.

  7. Wonderful framework for systematizing your social priorities Create/share/discover/collect. I liken my blog to my social web home. Of course there are comments and other data on many other blogs and social media sites but I’m fine with leaving that information there.

    I really enjoy friendfeed, and since everything is public it is portable although not as packagable as I’d prefer.

    I share your interest in semantic web. Last month I started a project that uses a semantic extraction tool (Zemanta at thr moment) on user social media data. It can provide interesting utility like clustering conversations by topic when combined with real time search (see victusmedia.com for a very crude prototype). On the business side I’m hoping to match more relevant advertising to users as well (used google adsense search for that rough example).

    Initially used Twitter name search to graba tweet, now added oauth/friendfeed API (in the works), need to do the same with facebook. Once that’s squared away I can begin work on the database (simple tags and weights) for users thatcreate account, hopefully with single click from their other authorized social site(s).

    I have a business centric friend helping work that angle but am actively searching for folks that live and breathe web programming and are willing yo work for sweat equity (founders).

  8. Mark, I am curious about your project, and will surely take a look at it. I recently met the founder of hover.in, with whom Zemanta has tied up.

    All the best for finding the technical folks to accelerate development!

  9. Thanks for the well wishes Mahendra. Small world you meeting up with hover.in founder. In the meantime while searching for like minds (but with deeper web programming expertise) I’ll keep on coding.

    I was pretty psyched about the netflix prize as well. Their personalized suggestion tool fits well with the type of algorithms I’m interested in (I just tried entering a little too late and without enough confidence to push).

  10. Mahendra,

    Great post! I tweeted it and referred a few new clients to the visual as a reference to get them thinking the right way. As a follow up, I think it would be great to share how you used your ecosystem to share this great visual in numerous social media avenues. Well done!

  11. Thanks, Derek.

    I thought the post above sufficiently elucidated how I use the ecosystem. I’ve already shared it with everyone I know and wherever I can 🙂

    Thanks for referring it to your clients. I’d be happy to know of anyone who finds it useful!

  12. Pingback: Stories in a Stream « Gaizabonts

  13. Yeah the post above “elucidates” how you use the virtual ecosystem, but I havent “sufficient” knowledge or information to appreciate fully, so am going to go read up on a few terms am taking away with me today 🙂 thx, Mahendra, good to back online again, and reading you. Where are you at now, where is your website?

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