When starting a social service these days, you can’t just create an independent system anymore. You need to connect, aggregate and integrate. There’s just no way that you can ignore the Dataportability, OpenID and OpenSocial guys. They’re everywhere, coining the exact same terms I’ve used in the first sentences of this post. As Marc Canter cried out during Le Web 3: ‘We all want services to connect with each other!’
Later today, a new bridging-gaps service will launch. It’s called Linqia and it collects and lists detailed profiles of thousands of online communities and groups. Of course there’s a search option, so you can find the smallest and most hidden groups. Users can upload existing groups and rate and comment them. So, which services are following the trend and granted Linqia access? Co-founder and CEO Maria Sipka told me that Linqia has secured content from 18 communities and social networks – with names like XING, ecademy, Viadeo and Live Journal. Companies can sponsor community categories, which some – like Weblin, ESADE and AutoScout24 – are already willing to do.
Linqia wants to help people connect to other people, their interests and needs. Sounds pretty cool, and it gets better. Sipka told me about the social vision of Linqia: connect the developing world to the developed world through online communities and groups. When a community from a third-world country connects to the web with their 100 dollar laptop, chances are high they’ll be a bit overwhelmed by all the possibilities. Sipka asks us to imagine a community of farmers in Ghana. They want to use the web to find a group of experts on the topic of wheat and how to maximize the harvest amidst drought conditions. That’s where Linqia comes in. Through its search engine, the community would be able to find some helpful scientists who at the same time want to gather information from the farmers. The big challenge for Linqia here, is to reach those communities from the developing countries.
However, I don’t have any personal interest in wheat so I searched for a different community. Yet when I tried to find one of my favorite bands, the Babyshambles, I couldn’t find a group. Same thing happened when I searched for my favorite networking event OpenCoffee. So not all the obvious groups are there yet, but the idea of making them all available sounds like a good plan. Linqia will have to get big shots like Facebook and LinkedIn on board and let them open up their groups. So far, Facebook just counts as one community, yet it contains thousands of special interest groups. It’s necessary to be able to search through those groups as well if Linqia wants to fulfill the thousands of different wishes of its visitors.