Product & Startup Builder

Analogies and Metaphors: Marc Canter's vision of the open social network

Added on by Chris Saad.
I have been reading a lot of Marc Canter's thoughts on open social networks recently - they mirror my own when thinking about the current rush to Facebook and the recent huge funding round for Ning.

I have also been thinking about Analogies and Metaphors and how they help clarify, crystallize and convey ideas so elegantly sometimes. Sometimes you can summarize lots of concepts very simply with a well thought out analogy. So I have decided to try to use them more.

So here is my first attempt (be gentle)...

Facebook (and other social networks) are like shopping centers. Independent business owners set up shop and sell you their products and services while the shopping center itself attracts the foot traffic.

However these shopping centers are not like real shopping centers. They let invite people in and you can form friendships while you are there, but they won't let you leave together. They remember every purchase you make, but they wont give you a receipt. They sell you plenty of stuff, but those things don't have any value as soon as you leave. These shopping centers want to lock the doors and trap you inside - they don't want you to go home.

They don't want you to go to that little corner store. If you do, you can't take any of your friends with you. Once you go into these shopping centers and spend time with your friends, form great friendships and 'buy' stuff, they think they own you, your stuff and your relationships.

Facebook should be more like real shopping centers. They are nice to visit. You can take your friends in, you can leave with your relationships intact and your purchases in hand.

Do you have a better Analogy (wouldn't be hard)? Post it in the comments...